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Examination of the Organizational Factors That Promote or Inhibit Knowledge Transfer Among Information Technology Project Managers

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Brian M Chopp
Abstract:
This study examined obstacles to knowledge transfer and the factors that promote or inhibit knowledge transfer among information technology (IT) project managers in a defense industry organization. This knowledge is often transferred among project managers in the form of "lessons learned" systems that are intended to prevent the repetition of past mistakes and leverage the best practices of those in an organization. However, research has revealed that, although well-intentioned, these systems are rarely used (Weber et al., 2005). This study investigated knowledge transfer among IT project managers using a knowledge transfer questionnaire adapted from a Sverlinger 2000 study of knowledge transfer among construction industry technical consultants. It used sections of the 2000 questionnaire that addressed obstacles to knowledge transfer and organizational conditions enabling or facilitating knowledge transfer--structure, communications, process, culture, and systems for training and learning. One hundred and eleven project managers from a defense industry IT organization were invited to complete the questionnaire; 84 were completed. The findings revealed that although the organization possessed a willing and motivated workforce, many impediments to knowledge transfer exist. Lack of time, funding, training, and incentives were found to be major obstacles to knowledge transfer. Project lessons were not available to all within the organization, efforts were wasted through reinventing the wheel, and knowledge was difficult to locate. This study's conclusions are consistent with the findings of other knowledge management researchers. However, because the study examined only one IT organization in the one industry, the results are not generalizable. Since knowledge reuse leads to improved organizational effectiveness and improves corporate profitability, the organization should use the results of this study as a tool for making improvements to their knowledge management program.

CONTENTS

Abst ract

................................ ................................ ................................ ..............................

iii

Table of Figures

................................ ................................ ................................ ...............

viii

List of Tables

................................ ................................ ................................ .....................

ix

CHAPTER I Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ ... 1

Rationale

for the Study

................................ ................................ ................................ 1

Purp ose

and Research Questions

................................ ................................ ................. 6

CHAPTER 2 Literature Review

................................ ................................ ......................... 7

Knowledge Transfer

................................ ................................ ................................ .... 7

Knowledge Transfer Sub - Processes

................................ ................................ .. 10

Conditions W hich En able and Facilitate Knowledge Transfer

......................... 12

A Summary of the Sverlinger Knowledge Transfer Model

............................. 14

IT Project Management

................................ ................................ ............................. 15

Knowledge Transfer and IT Project Manageme nt

................................ .................... 18

CHAPTER 3 Methodology

................................ ................................ ............................... 21

Participants

................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 21

Institutional Review Board Approval

................................ ................................ ........ 22

Data Collection

................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 23

CHAPTER 4 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 29

Data Analysis

................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 29

Research Question 1: Organizational Conditions Enabling and Facilitating Knowledge Transfer

................................ ................................ ............................ 30

Research Question 2: Organizati onal Obstacles to Knowledge Transfer

................ 34

Summary of Key Findings

................................ ................................ ......................... 35

CHAPTER 5 Discussion

................................ ................................ ................................ ... 36

Factors That Promote or Inhibit Knowledge Transfer

................................ .............. 36

Obstacles to Knowled ge Transfer

................................ ................................ ............. 38

Limitations

of T his

Study

................................ ................................ .......................... 40

Future Research

................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 41

Conclusions

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 41

References

................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 43

Appendix A Project Management Knowledge Tra nsfer Questionnaire (2010)

................ 50

Appendix B Sverlinger 2000 Questionnaire

................................ ................................ ..... 56

Appendix C Mapping of Project Management Knowledge Transfer Questionnaire (2010) to the Sverlinger 2000 Questionnaire

................................ ................................ .......... 61

Appendix D Informed Consent Form

................................ ................................ ............... 62

Table of Figures

Figure 2.1 Sverlinger Model of Knowledge Transfer

................................ .......................

15

Li st of Tables

Table 4 - 1 Personal and Job Characteristics of Project Managers

................................ .....

31

Table 4 - 2 Organizational Conditions that Enable or Facil itate Knowledge Transfer

......

33

Table 4 - 3

Obstacles to Knowledge Transfer

................................ ................................ ....

34

EXAMINATION OF THE ORG ANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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CHAPTER I

Introduction

Rationale

for the Study

Manag ing

knowledge is increasingly important in many industries. K nowledge management initiatives are seen as a way to increase business profitability (KM W orld, 2011) , improve business processes,

create financial savings, generate greater revenues, enhance user acceptance, and/or increase

competitiveness (Chua and Lam, 2005). O rganizations view

knowledge as a source of competence and as a competitive resource (Huang , Newell, & Pan , 2001). Th is is

reflected in the research of Prusak (1997) who concludes that an organization’s competitive advantage relies upon its knowledge :

what it knows, how well it uses what it knows, and how fast they can learn something new.

T ransferring knowledge can yield enormous benefits to an organization

(O’Dell &

Grayson, 1999 ).

Two striking examples are Che vron and Texas Instrument. Both

have realized the benefits of implementing knowledge management initiatives. Chevron reduced its operating cost structures by more tha n

$2 billion from 1993 until 1999 , principally

through sharing best practices; its best practice team has saved it $650 million in energy use alone. Similarly, Texas Instruments increased its annual fabrication capacity by $1.5 billion by comparing and transferring best practices among its 13 fabrication plants (O’Dell &

Grayson, 1999 , p.1 1) .

Another example of savings through knowledge management initiatives can be found at British Petroleum (BP). BP estimated the value of cost reduction through the sharing of operational knowledge between sites to be wor th

$2 billion (Milton, 2007). Despi te these obvious organizational benefits, only a

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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2

few firms manage to identify and transfer valuable knowledge from project to project (Disterer, 2002). A

report from one organization found that 74 %

of respondents believed that their organization's best kn owledge was inaccessible ,

and 68 %

thought that mistakes were reproduced several times (Gazeau, 1998). Schindler & Eppler (2003) found that knowledge is often lost after a project is completed or when team members move on to other activities. Carey (2007) reports that knowledge management systems frequently underperform, leaving organizations with untapped reservoirs of knowledge that organizations cannot leverage.

Organizational knowledge is exchanged through knowledge transfer processes. These process es can be formal –

lessons learned systems, or informal –

learning through observation, collaborating and talking with others, and even Internet searching. Knowledge transfer is the action of facilitating and exchanging knowledge (Tiwana, 2002). Lessons learned are the primary vehicle for the transfer of knowledge in the project management field (M a cMaster, 2000).

While the idea of learning from experience is not a new concept, formal lessons learned systems designed to capture and disseminate lessons w ithin an organization are a recent development and have gained increased popularity (Snider, Barrett, Tenkasi, 2002). Defined by the P roject M anagement Institute ( PMI ), lessons learned is the learning gained from the process of performing a project

(PMBOK

Guide, 200 8 ) . Lessons learned originate from experiences and describe failures as well as successes ( Weber, Aha, &

Becerra - Fernandez, 2005 ).

However, research conducted by Weber, Aha, and Becerra - Fernandez

( 2005 )

reveals that

these lessons learned syste ms are rarely used. This can lead to the

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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3

unnecessary loss of project

knowledge and unnecessary

replication of individual learning within organizations.

Williams (200 6 ) found that lessons learned from specific projects are ra rely

incorporated into an orga nization's overall policies and procedures. Because of this ,

lessons are lost, mistakes are repeated and opportunities for operational efficiency are missed. His study revealed that leading networks and communities of practice are considered important by 89

percent

of respondents, but only 12

percent

had been implemented.

He also found that although lessons learned databases are considered important by 87

percent , only 22

percent

were actually implemented. His research concluded that the reasons for this

in action were: lack of management support, lack of incentives, resources, and clear guidelines.

Capturing of lessons learned in the IT

field has proven particularly difficult , principally

because IT efforts are

typically managed within project - based orga nizations. This organizational type

refer s

to a variety of organizational forms characterized by their temporary nature

(Lundin & Söderholm 1995; DeFillippi 2002).

They involve temporary organizational structures and unique, goal oriented work systems w h ere technical, procedural, organizational, and human elements are integrated (Murch, 200 1 ). Project - based organizations can be found in a variety of industries. They include automotive, software/IT, construction, consulting, and pharmaceuticals industrie s

(Hanisch , Lindner, & Mueller,

2009). Project - based organizations share the characteristics of being highly focused, fast and autonomous. These characteristics, while beneficial on one hand, increase the likelihood that project lessons will not be shared

(Sydow , Lindkvis, & DeFillippi,

2004) . Furthermore, IT project management differs from other project management fields in that it presents other unique challenges. IT work is typically more

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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4

variable

than work in other industries , requires more creative

problem solving, is longer in duration, and necessitates p roject m anager multitasking (L i entz & Larsen, 2006 ).

IT p rojects

differ from one another and personnel changes occur often (Karlsen & Gottschalk,

2004). Additionally, p roject managers report that

IT projects are becoming more ambitious, more complex, and more time focused (Sauer & Rich, 2006). Given these circumstances, transfer of knowledge becomes a lower priority and more difficult to achieve.

Successful knowledge transfer among IT workers

has proven challenging. With an ever - changing IT field in which no individual remains an expert in any IT specialty for long, and the emergence of new techniques, improved hardware, and improved software, examination of knowledge transfer takes on added importance. However, as discussed earlier, r esearchers agree that knowledge transfer should occur but often does not.

E fforts to study the effectiveness of knowledge transfer have previously occurred. One such effort was conducted by Peter Sverlinger in 2000. His study examined knowledge transfer among construction industry technical consultants . Like IT

project management, work performed by construction industry technical consultants occurs in project - based organizations. Since IT project managemen t is performed in project - based organization s, the similar organizational dynamics between technical consultant in the construction industry and IT project management makes his study particularly relevant to th is study .

Sverlinger

administered a questionna ire based upon a multi - factor model which included 11 assessment categories. Five key knowledge transfer processes and six knowledge transfer enabling conditions were studied. The knowledge transfer processes in the Sverlinge r

Model of Knowledge Transfer

are :

knowledge/information acquisition,

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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5

information distribution, interpretation, making meaning, organizational memory, and information retrieval; and knowledge transfer enabling conditions are organizational structure, communications, process, culture,

systems for training, and technology (Sverlinger, 2000).

This study continues Sverlinger’s examination of project - based organizations and

administers the sections of this questionnaire relating to obstacles and organizational and facilitating conditions

for knowledge transfer to a new population . This study examin e d

the knowledge transfer of IT

project managers who service a global

defense industry organization.

The project managers orchestrate and manage multi - tiered and matrixed project teams dedicat ed to IT

projects

with activities that includ e

feasibility studies

and subsequent development , design, implementation, upgrade, migration and /or

support services projects. Matrixed teams are teams composed of members with relevant expertise necessary fo r project completion. Matrix team members are assigned to the project on a temporary basis. The project managers oversee team members located throughout the United States who work either

remotely from home, or

locally

at a company facility .

Over

1,000

IT

project

implementations have been managed by this organization from 2006 - 2010.

A full discussion of all elements of the Sverlinger model can be found in Chapter 2.

This research examine d

knowledge transfer in a defense industry information technology p roject management organization. This organization utilizes the lessons learned process as the primary formal method for knowledge transfer. Strong a necdotal evidence based upon many discussions with the project managers in this organization reveal ed

that this process is ineffective. Although project managers are required to submit

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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their lessons to a lessons learned repository ,

they rarely use the repository

as a method for learning about past projects. The system does not provide company - wide access to le ssons learned ,

and common terminology is not used by the users of the system. It is well understood by the members of this organization that this system should be improved.

Purpose

and Research Questions

The purpose of this study is to identify factors t hat promote or inhibit knowledge transfer among I T

p roject m anagers

in a defense industry organization . This study replicate d

the portion of the 2000 Sverlinger knowledge transfer study of technical consultants in

the construction industry that addresses knowledge trans fer obstacles and knowledge transfer enablers and facilitators. The research questions were taken verbatim from the 2000 Sverlinger study with the exception that the title

“consultant” has been changed to “ p roject m anager.” The two resear ch questions were:

R esearch Question 1

Which organizational conditions

enabling and facilitating learning and knowledge transfer exist ,

and how are they perceived by p roject m anagers ?

R esearch Q uestion 2

What obstacles are perceived as being most common

when implementing IT p roject m anagement knowledge management initiatives?

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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C HAPTER

2

Literature Review

This research focuse d

on the interaction between three fields of study: knowledge transfer , project management, and information technology

(IT) . A b ody of literature in these fields provide d

the foundation for the current study. This chapter discusses each area and provide s

an overview of key research as it relates to this study.

Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is the action of facilitating an d exchanging knowledge (Tiwana, 2002). Knowledge transfer is part of a larger field of study which falls under the broader title of k nowledge m anagement. Knowledge management and knowledge transfer differ in that k nowledge m anagement describes the overal l strategy ;

whereas ,

knowledge transfer refers to

the practical movement of the knowledge. Researchers have defined knowledge in many different ways.

For example, Allee defines knowledge as experiences that can be communicated and shared (1997), and Dave nport and Prusak define knowledge as “a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information ”

(1998, p. 5) . O’Dell and Grayson define knowledge as information in action (1998). For the purposes of this study, knowledge management is defined as a “ m ix of framed experiences, values, co n textual information, expert insight, and intuition that provides an environment and framework for evalua ting and incorporating new information

it enables the creation, distribution, and exploitation of knowle dge

to cr e ate and retain greater value from core business competencies ”

(Tiwana,

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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2002, p. 4).

Tiwana’s definition combines elements of Allee’s, Daven port and Prusak’s, and O’Dell and Grayson’s knowledge definition to and gives a working definition suited for this study.

In 1966, Polanyi categorized knowledge as either tacit or explicit (1966). He defined t acit knowledge, also known as

informal knowl edge, a s knowledge rooted in

“individual experience and personal beliefs perspectives, and values . ” Explicit knowledge was described a s context specific and characterized as being difficult to articulate and communicate (1966, p. 4). Explicit knowledge wa s

knowledge transferred through written language or as formal verbal communication.

Nonaka and Takeuchi ma intained that tacit knowledge was

not as accessible as explicit knowledge and therefore more difficult to transfer (19 9 5). Learning from education a nd learning in daily work develops knowledge (Sverlinger, 2000). Knowledge development involves and interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge (Nonaka &

Takeuchi, 19 9 5).

The concept of knowledge management was first presented by Wiig at the Intern ational Organization Conference in 1986 (Beckman, 1999). However, the concept of knowledge management ha s

only recently become widely accepted . In part, t his is attributed to the rapid evolution of data search, data access, and data distribution through the use of IT.

Likewise, “ d ecentralized PC - based IT, Internet and better telecommunications have driven t he emergence of knowledge management as a concept” (Sverlinger, 2000 , p. 17 ). Knowledge m anagement can be seen as the synthesis of many other pre - exi sting management concepts in business (Tiwana, 2002). The T otal Quality Management (T QM )

movement (Deming, 1986), Organizational Learning (Argyris &

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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Schon, 1978; and Senge, 1990), and Lean Production (Womack et al., 1990) all have had an influence on the development of knowledge management thinking (Sverlinger, 2000).

Knowledge management can be viewed

as a process. H i bbard (1997) describes knowledge management as a process that captures knowledge wherever it resides . Sa r vary (1999) augmented

that pers pective by integrating knowledge management into business processes. Knowledge transfer describes those activities involved in this process. Simply put, knowledge transfer is the process

of facilitating and exchanging knowledge

(Tiwana, 2002, p. 91) .

In

2000, Sverlinger completed a

comprehensive literature review of the knowledge activities that constitute knowledge transfer. He examined knowledge transfer processes as well as knowledge transfer facilitators and enabling conditions. Most relevant to th is

study is his inclusion of the Dixon knowledge transfer process model into a

comprehensive knowledge transfer model . Dixon propose d

that there are five s ub - processes

to knowledge transfer: knowledge/information acquisition, information distribution, int erpretation, making meaning, organizational memory, and information retrieval (Dixon, 1992). Her model follows others in the fields that have

identified the sub processes for knowledge transfer. For example, Nevis , DiBella, and Gould

(1995) propose that k nowledge transfer contains three stages:

k nowledge acquisition, k nowledge sharing and k nowledge

utilization; and Stein (1995) proposes that knowledge

transfer contains four stages: k nowledge acquisition

and learning, k nowledge retention, k nowledge mainten ance, and k nowledge retrieval.

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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Transfer Sub - Process es

The five sub - processes of knowledge transfer that Sverlinger used in his 2000 study were knowledge and information acquisition, information distribution, making meaning, organizational mem ory, and retrieval of information and knowledge. Knowledge and information acquisition begins the process of organizational learning. Acquisition of knowledge and information occurs by monitoring the environment, using information systems to store, manage , and retrieve information, carrying out research and development, and education and training (Dodgson, 1993). Information is acquired from both internal a nd external sources (Dixon, 1992). Dixon explains that internal generation of information occurs by

relying on prevailing technology and understanding the history of the organization and the thoughts of the founders; by developing original innovations, inventing new processes, and deliberately creating experiments; by implementing continuous process imp rovements and attending to feedback on incremental change; and by questioning organizational assumptions and norms through critical thinking.

External information is obtained by borrowing from other organizations, by searching, by grafting and by collabo rating with other organizations (Argote, 1999).

The second stage of the knowledge transfer process is information distribution. This refers to the processes used by an organization to share information among its members. Knowledge and information are di stributed by oral and written communication, training, internal conferences, briefings, and internal publications (Dixon, 1992). Much of this learning can be informal and occurs as organization members share stories of actual work experiences as opposed t o information found in formal procedures manuals (Nevis, et al., 1995).

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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The third sub - process of

knowledge transfer is making meaning. Making meaning is how an organization and its people put information in a context where it can be understood and become knowledge (Sverlinger, 2000). Meaning is assigned to information through analysis. According to Dixon (1992) interpreting information can occur through dialogue, critical reflection, process checks, taking action, and unlearning; and analyzing informatio n can occur through rational analysis, problem solving processes, extrapolating from past events, strategy formulation, and decision support tools. Databases

and search and retrieval tools are often used because databases store much of the organizational

memory (Sverlinger, 2000).

The fourth sub - process

of knowledge transfer is organizational memory. This refers to the location for storage of organizational knowledge. Dixon (1992) notes

that organizational memor ies

can be stored internally o r externally.

I nternal memories

can be classified

as intentionally or unintentionally. Locations for intentional storage include expert systems, lessons learned, databases, records and reports, and policies and processes. Unintentional storage locations include the organizational culture, roles that differentiate tasks and control (structures), the physical workplace (ecology), and the shared mental model of theories in action. External storage of organizational memory can be located in competitors, government reco rds, financial reports, and former organizational members (Dixon, 1992).

Retrieval of knowledge and information is the final s ub - process of knowledge transfer. It can be either controlled or automatic (Dixon, 1992). Controlled retrieval occurs when a con scious decision is made to access and share information either by individuals or by groups. Automatic retrieval occurs from information stored in an

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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organization's culture,

roles that differentiate tasks and control (structures), the physical workplace (e cology), and each individual ’ s tacit knowledge (Dixon, 1992).

Conditions W hich Enable and Facilitate Knowledge Transfer

The five

knowledge transfer sub - processes enables the researcher to comprehensively examine the full cycle of the knowledge transfer.

However, in order for an organization to utilize such knowledge, conditions which enabl e s and facilitat e this utilization must be present.

Researchers have extensively studied these organizational “success factors . ” For example, Wong and Aspinwall (2005 ) noted 11 factors which set the conditions for learning and knowledge transfer ,

and Nonaka and Takeuchi (19 9 5) identif ied

“enabling conditions for organizational knowledge creation . ”

Davenport and Prusak (1998 , p. 155 )

identified

eight conditions that co ntribut e

to organizational effectiveness.

Sverlinger (2000) reviewed

the significant research on enablers and facilitators and identified common themes

for

use in his study . The six enabling conditions he selected for his research model were : organizati onal structure, communication

and the monitoring of strategy , process, culture, systems for training

and learning , and technolog ical enablers

for knowledge transfer.

The o rganizational structure

defines how learning processes interact (Dodgson, 199 3 ). S tructure types indirectly affect the ability of an organization to learn. For example, centralized, mechanistic structures have a tendency to reinforce past behavior, and organic structures because of their adaptable nature, can allow for greater learning.

The organizational structure can improve access to knowledge.

It can support knowledge maps, expert networks, job rotation, task groups and teamwork (Davenport, DeLong, & Beers , 1998).

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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Communication

and the monitoring of strateg ies

enable and facili tat e

learning and knowledge transfer. This strategic perspective involves leadership at all levels in order to succeed. In fact, Nevis et al. (1995) claim that involved leadership is the most important element for communication and the monitoring of stra tegy

success . Other researchers support this claim. Davenport and Prusak write that management support is key to knowledge management program success (1998). Management has the responsibility to set strategies for achieving the organization’s goals. Th ese

strategies or guidelines are necessary to provide a context to group activities (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 19 9 5)

so that organizational members can focus a collective effort to achieve knowledge management initiatives.

These strategies, goals and concepts relative to knowledge creation and transfer must be clear to all organization members (Sverlinger, 2000).

It is widely understood that m anagement of knowledge must follow a defined process. Garvin (1993) proposes that rational approach be used in buildi ng a learning organization. Good learning organizations learn from past experiences and learn from the best practices of others. Since these experiences reside in the organizational memory, and can be intentional or unintentional memories ,

a process pro vides a systemic way to transfer knowledge.

Davenport and Prusak (1998) identify culture as the most important enabling condition for knowledge transfer. Culture directly affects the probability for learning to occur (Fiol &

Lyles, 19 8 5). Organizations c an remove barriers to a knowledge oriented culture and build awareness and receptivity to a knowledge culture (Davenport, DeLong, & Beers,

1998).

Initiatives promoting a knowledge oriented culture should support both

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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formal and informal communications. Informal communications occurring in informal social groups should not be overlooked because often the most successful knowledge transfer within an organization does not occur with technology for formal reporting structures (Davenport &

Prusak, 1998).

Syst ems for training and learning

must exist to support a learning organization. These

systems address gaps in performance knowledge management program s hortfalls (Nevis et al., 1995) ,

both for the individual and organization.

They provide the mechanism for e ducation on knowledge management principals and processes and provide a formal means for sharing this information to all the organization’s members.

The last of the enabling and facilitating conditions identified by Sverlinger is technological enablers.

Technological enablers are the i nformation technology (I T )

systems which support the knowledge transfer process. These systems, including telecommunications, provide multiple high - speed communications channels that support

knowledge management activit ies (Daft &

Huber, 1987). IT

acts as the channel and storage system for knowledge transfer (Davenport &

Prusak, 1998) . It

includes the following four types of technology: (1) databases, (2) decision support tools and artificial intelligence, (3) groupwar e including e - mail and videoconferencing, and (4) W eb technology including intranets, extranets, and the Internet.

A Summary of the Sverlinger Knowledge Transfer Model

The five knowledge sub - processes and six enabling conditions previously described ga ve

Sverlinger a multi - factor

lens from which to examine knowledge transfer . Combined, they provide the foundation of a

comprehensive model used by Sverlinger

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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(2000) to assess the KM capabilities in the construction industry.

Figure 2 .1, illustrates the integrated model containing all sub - processes and organizational conditions.

Figure 2 .1 Sverlinger Model of Knowledge Transfer

IT Project Management

This study examined

knowledge transfer among p roject m anagers

in a defense industry organiza tion . Specifically, it

examine d

p roject m anagers who implement IT systems. Therefore ,

it is important to understand project management in the information technology field. This next section give s

an overview of project management, its history, and the un ique aspects of project management as it relates to IT .

A project is defined as a

"one - shot, time - limited, goal - directed, major undertaking, requiring a commitment of varied skills and resources" (Meredith &

EXAMINATION OF THE ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS THAT PROMOTE OR INHIBIT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AMONG IT PROJECT MANAGERS

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Mante l l, 200 9 ). IT

project s

involve design, dev elopment, or

implementation of a new IT product, service, or process.

Project m anagers are typically

used to manage these efforts (Sauer,et al., 2001) . Another definition of a project is supplied by the Project M anagement Institute

(PMI) . They define d

a

project as

the “ application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements –

accomplished through the application of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and contro lling, and closing” ( PMBOK, 2008 , pp. 5 - 6).

Full document contains 74 pages
Abstract: This study examined obstacles to knowledge transfer and the factors that promote or inhibit knowledge transfer among information technology (IT) project managers in a defense industry organization. This knowledge is often transferred among project managers in the form of "lessons learned" systems that are intended to prevent the repetition of past mistakes and leverage the best practices of those in an organization. However, research has revealed that, although well-intentioned, these systems are rarely used (Weber et al., 2005). This study investigated knowledge transfer among IT project managers using a knowledge transfer questionnaire adapted from a Sverlinger 2000 study of knowledge transfer among construction industry technical consultants. It used sections of the 2000 questionnaire that addressed obstacles to knowledge transfer and organizational conditions enabling or facilitating knowledge transfer--structure, communications, process, culture, and systems for training and learning. One hundred and eleven project managers from a defense industry IT organization were invited to complete the questionnaire; 84 were completed. The findings revealed that although the organization possessed a willing and motivated workforce, many impediments to knowledge transfer exist. Lack of time, funding, training, and incentives were found to be major obstacles to knowledge transfer. Project lessons were not available to all within the organization, efforts were wasted through reinventing the wheel, and knowledge was difficult to locate. This study's conclusions are consistent with the findings of other knowledge management researchers. However, because the study examined only one IT organization in the one industry, the results are not generalizable. Since knowledge reuse leads to improved organizational effectiveness and improves corporate profitability, the organization should use the results of this study as a tool for making improvements to their knowledge management program.