Tagging

tagging

 

I did not have much experience tagging anything before taking this class. Honestly, it scared me a bit and I was hesitant about it at first (like I felt about Twitter at first). About the same time I started this class, the library I work at implemented BiblioCommons which allows tagging in the catalog by users. So, I had to learn about tagging for school and work. Because of my hesitation and inexperience in using tags, my tagging at the beginning of the semester focused on the title and taking words from the title and abstract. I only added a few tags per article and did not trust myself to come up with “good tags”. One of the first I realized fairly quickly was that if I wanted to use tags with more than one word, I had to put them together as one entity or else citeulike would break them apart. I fixed it by writing them as one word and later on, I started adding hyphens between words to make it easier to read.

At the beginning of the semester, I only posted a few words for each article. As the semester went on and I got more comfortable, I started adding more words and phrases in my tagging system.  I stopped focusing as much on the title and abstract but started coming up with tags based on the themes of the articles.  I also did not realize that I could go back and edit tags until this last week of classes. This could have helped me add and delete tags based on what I was learning the rest of the semester as I got more familiar with the topics and themes.

My top tags were tacit, knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge transfer, and organizations. Knowledge management makes sense because this class is all about knowledge management. Organizations also works because most of the articles have been on knowledge management in organizations since that is a focus of this class. After reading Polanyi at the beginning of the semester (so long ago!), I start to see tacit knowledge everywhere. I still see it in the books I read, at work, and in the shows and movies I watch. This is probably why I used tacit more than explicit as my tags. Looking back, I am actually surprised I did not use tacit (and explicit) more because I think it was in more articles than my tags suggest.

If I could improve anything about my tagging system, I would plan better and think about tagging by themes instead of using words already in the title and abstract.  Maybe I could have added articles before I read them and tagged them based on what I thought the article was about and gone back after  I read them to adjust the tags. I did read a couple of articles I did not end up using, but thinking about it now, I could have added them anyway since I did read them.

 

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Knowledge and Learning (and a little more)

This is my last blog post that is on articles I have read! I can’t believe the semester is almost over! Anyway, let’s get this started.

Knowledge is not static. As Stock (2011) says, “Knowledge changes – old wisdom loses its meaning and new discoveries are made of developed further” (Stock, 2011, p. 965).  The knowledge we possess changes over time, as individuals and as part of organizations. We encounter new information and, if we deem it important to us, we incorporate it into our knowledge base, which may end in letting go of previous knowledge that does not jive with our new knowledge Although, sometimes we will find ways to hold two opposite pieces of knowledge at the same time. I am not completely sure that all knowledge changes; there are some parts of knowledge that do not change. However, there are so many new inventions and ideas created every day and as such, it is important to always be in a state of learning. “For every single member of a knowledge society, a lifetime of learning thus becomes essential” (Stock, 2011, p. 965).  Knowledge management, in a sense, is about learning.  In the article on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (see previous blog post), knowledge management was used to learn from one hurricane so that the next one would not be as big a disaster.  This is probably stretching it a bit, but learning is an important part of knowledge management.

 “Knowledge management analyzes and organizes the dissemination and sharing of information inside the community and the import of explicit knowledge from the entire world into the city” (Stock, 2011, p. 982). One way to share information is through stories. Tremblay (1995) suggests that the enjoyment we get from stories came before modern media and will probably survive long after interactive multimedia technology. Stories help us communicate with each other in a way that we typically relate to the most. While stories can be shared online in non-face-to-face interactions, it is face-to-face interactions that  “Face-to-face interaction diminishes the likelihood of lying, helps to build shared values among a work team, and puts performance on display which diminishes motivation for loafing and free riding” (Goggins and Mascaro, 2013, p. 116)

As this is my last post, I wanted to revisit quickly explicit and tacit knowledge. We started off this semester learning about tacit knowledge through Polanyi (has it really been that long ago?) and this is something that has come up time and time again. According to Stock, “Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be fixed in documents and transmitted straightforwardly, in fixed form, via ICT… [And] implicit (or ‘tacit’) knowledge is necessarily tied to the knowing individual” (Stock, 2011, p. 972). I now see tacitness everywhere these days. For example, I’ve been binge watching num3rs on Netflix lately and at the end of one episode, three characters are playing a videogame and each one is trying to tell the one originally playing how to play the game. However, the only way they could think to explain it was through playing the game themselves. I probably did not describe this very well but this was a form of tacit knowledge because it could not be described easily.

Goggins, S. P., & Mascaro, C. (2013). Context matters: The experience of physical, informational, and cultural distance in a rural IT firm. The Information Society, 29, 113-127.

Stock, W. G. (2011). Informational cities: Analysis and construction of cities in the knowledge society. Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology, 62(5), 963-986.

Tremblay, G. (1995). The information society: From Fordism to Gatesism. Canadian Journal of Communication, 20(4), 461-482

Disaster Management

It has been almost 11 years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed many lives in Louisiana and Texas. I remember the damage caused (especially Hurricane Katrina) and the controversy surrounding the response of the government to the tragedy, but not the specifics or why it was so damaging. The decisions made during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita affected how much impact the storm would have.  Making decisions, whether as in individual or part of an organization, can be difficult in the best of times. But when a crisis comes up, it can prove much more difficult.  According to Haas (1992), “poorly understood conditions may create enough turbulence that established operating procedures may break down, making institutions unworkable” (p. 14).  In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana and Texas. In both cases, the path of the hurricanes had been fairly accurately predicted. However, Hurricane Katrina left many in the government unprepared. The biggest difference between Katrina and Rita was that Katrina was declared an incident of national significance two days after it touched down where Rita was declared an incident of national significance two days before it touched down (Chua, 2007, p. 1523).  Chua (2007) discussed how studying both hurricanes simultaneously shows that responses to disasters are shaped by previous disasters and can help responses to disasters in the future. The response to Rita was shaped in a large part because of Katrina. Of course, the response to Rita was not perfect. The biggest problem was the evacuation which left thousands of people on the freeway stuck for 24 hours in the heat and without food and water (for many). This article reminded me of the Challenger Disaster and, as kamrynwies discussed, the managers in that situation were “ignorant” of the information needed to make a good decision. This was also true in Katrina as the ones in charge were the same way on a much greater scale.

Jones and Mahon (2012) suggest that in high velocity/turbulent environments, a tacit-knowledge based approach is appropriate and in a stable environment, a more explicit-knowledge based approach is more appropriate. I understand their assessment and agree with it (mostly). Explicit knowledge is often more set in stone while tacit knowledge allows for more flexibility. When it comes to crises, being flexible in how the crises are responded to can mean the difference between “success” and “failure” (I couldn’t come up with better words than these, even though they are not quite accurate in terms of crises).    Jones and Mahon (2012) stated that “strategically, people skilled in tacit knowledge can buy time for those skilled in explicit knowledge to develop better plans/strategies” (p. 783). I never saw tacit or explicit knowledge in this way before. I like that they talk about the importance of both and that both are important; neither can be complete without the other. Each of them has their purposes and play an important role not just in organizations, but also in disaster management.

 

Chua, A. Y. K. (2007). A tale of two hurricanes: Comparing Katrina and Rita through a knowledge management perspective. Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology, 58(10), 1518-1528.

Haas, P. M. (1992). Introduction: Epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International Organization, 46(1), 1-35.

Organizational Learning

It occurred to me after I read the articles for this post that I had chosen articles written in the 1990s which was around 20 years ago. But they reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is probably overstating it and I do not mean to say that nothing has changed over the years. However, some themes that we see today are ones that were seen twenty years ago.

In a Twitter discussion, we discussed how organizations and the people within those organizations are often resistant to change. This is something that people have talked about twenty years ago and probably for a long time before that. Brown and Duguid (1991), in their discussion on communities-of-practice, talk about canonical practices of organizations and noncanonical practices of organization. The way they portray canonical practices of organizations is that of a map. The problem with using a map (especially traditional maps) is that it does not take into consideration road conditions (like traffic or obstructions) and may make it difficult to find the best way to get from point A to point B. By sticking to a map, an organization cannot be flexible enough to solve problems that a map will not be able to solve. In noncanonical practices, stories and storytelling play a role in solving problems and learning.

How does learning take place within an organization? Brown and Duguid (1991) state that “workplace learning is best understood in terms of the communities being formed or joined and personal identities being changed. The central issue in learning is becoming a practitioner not learning about practice” (p. 48). I like this idea of learning because it sees the learner as an active participant rather than a passive one. Cook and Brown (1999) had similar idea in their definition of practice. They saw ‘practice’ as “the coordinated activities of individuals and groups in doing their ‘real work’ as it is informed by a particular organizational or group context” (p. 387). The ‘real work’ implies a practitioner and not just learning about practice. Learning about practice does no good unless it is applied and used.  states that “you can share all the explicit knowledge you have, shout it from the rooftops if you want, but if there’s no one…. to use that knowledge then you haven’t benefited anyone at all”. It is the use of the knowledge that makes it useful to the organization. Huber (1991) suggested that “more organizational learning occurs when more of the organization’s components obtain this knowledge and recognize it as potentially useful” (p. 90). Recognizing something as potentially useful is not the same thing as actually using it. However, it is a good step to using something. After all, if an organization does not see something as possibly useful, then they will not use that knowledge.

 

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), 40-57.

Cook, S. D. N., & Brown, J. S. (1999). Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational knowing. Organization science, 10(4), 381-400.

Huber, G. P. (1991). Organizational learning: The contributing processes and the literatures. Organization Science, 2(1), 88-115.

Organizations and Individuals

Organizations or individuals? Which are more “important” to knowledge management and knowledge transfer? My first reaction was organizations because they seem to have more influence than individuals. However, organizations are comprised of individuals. Argote and Ingram (2000) state that “a significant component of the knowledge that organizations acquire, especially tacit knowledge, is embedded in individual members” (p. 153).  Organizations are nothing without the individual members that comprise them. It is the people that make organizations what they are. While organizations are comprised of individuals, it is also comprised of groups formed within the organization by the individuals. Each level of an organization from individuals to groups to the organization as a whole impacts knowledge transfer and knowledge management. suggests that “organizational knowledge is always organizational rather than individual.”  This seems to jive with what I read in Spender’s article. According to Spender (1996), “individuals cannot be proficient until they are ‘socialized’ into an organization, until they have acquired much of the collective knowledge of an organization” (p. 54). As individuals, their importance to an organization may depend on how soon they can utilize the collective knowledge of an organization.

Two basic categories of knowledge are explicit and tacit. It is individuals that generate tacit knowledge.  Organizations need to be able to utilize both explicit and tacit knowledge of the employees (that knowledge which would benefit the organization). Spender (1996) suggested that “ the modern trend is away from the tacit and towards the explicit, from craft to system” (p. 51). This was interesting to me, because in most of the other articles I have read for this class have focused on how important tacit knowledge could be for an organization and less on explicit knowledge. Now, I am not saying that one form of knowledge (i.e. tacit and explicit) is better than another, but the trend seems to be the opposite of Spender’s (1996) idea. However, this could be because he was writing twenty years ago and the other articles were written more recently than that. Even though that may be the case and the trend may have changed since then, Spender (1996) does not deny the importance of both explicit and tacit knowledge. It is fascinating to see how trends change over time

In organizations, social-collaboration seems to be on the rise. Collaboration happens in groups and social media (of all sorts) can help collaboration occur. Pillet and Carillo (2016) discuss the use of social-collaboration tools in organizations. They state that “in order to fulfill their employees’ collaboration needs, organizations have started experimenting with social-collaboration technologies that apply Web 2.0 principles to corporate settings” (p. 114). It is one thing to implement these technologies and it is another thing to convince people of the need for them to change their habits in the organization. Just because an organization uses social-collaboration tools does not automatically mean that collaboration and knowledge sharing will increase. In this class, we use social media tools in the form of Twitter and blog posts.   I must admit that I was hesitant because I have never used either very much. However, as I started using them more, my habits started changing in regards to how I used them (especially with Twitter). Because I changed my habits, I was more inclined to share knowledge and collaborate with other people in the class. According to Pillet and Carillo (2016), relative advantage and perceived ease of use influenced habit (p. 122). The advantage I got from participating in Twitter was a grade but then the more important advantage for me was the interactions I had with my classmates. After a while, it also became easier to use which also helped contribute to my increased collaboration and knowledge sharing. I may be stretching it right now (if so I claim lack of sleep :D), but that’s the basic idea.

Argote, L, & Ingram, P. (2000). Knowledge transfer: A basis for competitive advantage in firms. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 82(1), 150-169.

Pillet, J. C., & Carillo, K. D. A. (2016). Email-free collaboration: An exploratory study on the formation of new work habits among knowledge workers. International Journal of Information Management, 36(1), 113–125

Spender, J. C. (1996). Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 45–62.

Knowledge Transfer

I started talking about knowledge transfer in my last post and this post also discusses it further. Kang and Kang (2010) talk a little about tacit and explicit knowledge (it always comes back!) and how it affects knowledge transfer. My typical reaction has been (because of the articles I have read) that tacit knowledge is harder to transfer than explicit knowledge.

What I found interesting in Kang and Kang (2010) is when they said, “even though knowledge sources can precisely codify their knowledge and can teach knowledge recipients well, it is still hard for recipients to learn that knowledge because of its complexity and unfamiliarity” (p. 8157).  Just because knowledge is explicit does not always mean that it is easy to transfer. Sometimes it is difficult because of how complex it can be, not just if it is tacit or explicit. That being said, that does not mean it is more difficult to transfer than tacit knowledge; it just means it may not always be easy. I know I have had a perception of explicit knowledge where it is simple and easily transferable, but that may not always be the case. However, “The more tacit the knowledge is, the more effort is required by recipients to secure the transfer of knowledge” (Kang and Kang, 2010, p. 8159).   

In organizational crises, it is very important that knowledge can get transferred as fast as possible.  According to Wang and Lu (2010), “in order to achieve effective decision making during organizational crises, organizations need to identify what needs to be known and transfer this knowledge to those who really need it” (p. 3934).  They discuss a Japanese motorcycle company that had to recall a motorcycle that had a design problem. They would lose money from the recall but the most damage could have been to their image and reputation. Image and reputation matter to organizations and if you lose that, it could cause irreparable damage. Wang and Lu (2010) mentioned four knowledge transfer practices from their research: communities of practice, documentation, mentoring systems, and job transfer. (p. 3938). I wonder what other knowledge transfer practices are effective and how different might they be from organization to organization.

Because knowledge transfer is essential, it is important to figure out impediments that may hinder knowledge transfer, which Szulanski (1996) refers to  as stickiness. Szulanski (1996) suggests that it is knowledge related factors that hinder knowledge transfer the most. These include “lack of absorptive capacity of the recipient, causal ambiguity, and an arduous relationship between the source and recipient” (p. 36). While this quote came from the end of the article, he does mention them at the beginning as well. When I first read about these things, I had no idea what he was talking about. So, I’m going to break it down a little bit. Causal ambiguity is basically when it cannot be determined what caused success or failure. Absorptive capacity is the ability to see the value of new information and apply it to the organization. The arduous relationship between the source and recipient is apparent and part of that may be impacted by trust which is what I focused on in my last post. said that “often, there may be team members who rely on their own tacit or explicit knowledge, refusing to learn from others because of their prior personal or institutional experiences”. This can influence relationships between people in an organization. There are other factors that contribute to stickiness in knowledge transfer, but according to Szulanski’s (1996) research, these are the most impactful ones. Whether those are always the most important or not, it is important to understand what can hinder knowledge transfer in order to fix it and make the way of knowledge transfer easier.

I think this will be my last post on knowledge transfer. Does anyone have ideas on how to best facilitate knowledge transfer? What could help get rid of or diminish the impact of stickiness?

 

Kang, J., Rhee, M., & Kang, K. H. (2010). Revisiting knowledge transfer: Effects of knowledge characteristics on organizational effort for knowledge transfer. Expert Systems with Applications, 37(12), 8155–8160.

Szulanski, G. (1996). Exploring internal stickiness: Impediments to the transfer of best practices within the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 27-43.

Wang, W. T., & Lu, Y. C. (2010). Knowledge transfer in response to organizational crises: An exploratory study. Expert Systems with Applications, 37(5), 3934-3942. doi:10.1016/j.eswa.2009.11.023

Knowledge transfer and knowledge hiding

When it comes to Knowledge Management, one important issue is knowledge transfer. Knowledge is not much use to an organization if it is not shared within the organization (or even sometimes outside of an organization). Lucas (2005) suggests that “knowledge transfer involves asking employees to change the way they do things without any guarantees of success” (p. 88). This may seem difficult to pull off but the benefits are enormous.

In order to transfer knowledge in organizations, employees need to be motivated in order to transfer that knowledge. According to Connelly et al. (2012), some factors that contribute to knowledge sharing are incentives, fairness, psychological contract maintenance, and a knowledge sharing climate (p. 65).     Connelly et al (2012) talk about the role of knowledge hiding and how it affects knowledge transfer.  According to them, knowledge hiding “represents an intentional concealment of knowledge requested by another” (Connellly et al, 2012, p. 66).  That knowledge hiding is intentional is important. If knowledge is not shared because of an accident or some unintentional mistake (or something like that), it is not knowledge hiding. I found it interesting that their first goal was “to verify the existence of knowledge hiding in organizations and to establish a preliminary link between distrust and knowledge hiding intentions” (p. 69).I realize the need to verify things and do research to prove it, however, anyone who has worked in an organization (which is most, if not all, of people) knows that knowledge hiding exists. We may not necessarily know what to call it or see how it affects an organization, but we know it is there. I have read a few articles on knowledge transfer, so it was interesting to read about a topic close to knowledge transfer that is not knowledge transfer (I know that does not make too much sense but that’s what I got lol). I must admit when I think of knowledge hiding I consider it to be a “bad” thing that is not good for an organization. However, they suggest that it is not always a bad thing. To be honest, I probably participate in knowledge hiding in my job sometimes.  They state that “it may be difficult for employees to provide a reasonable rationale for hiding knowledge that is task-related (e.g. how do I do this task) so they may instead try to avoid responding” (Connellly et al, 2012, p. 80).  I am sure that most people do this at some point in their lives, even if it is just once. While it is not necessarily a bad thing, it is important for managers (and the like) to “emphasize a shared identity and not offer incentives for employees to ‘betray’ their coworkers” (Connellly et al, 2012, p. 84).

One issue that all the articles talked about in this blog post discussed was the impact of trust on knowledge transfer and knowledge hiding. Ibrahim and Allen (2012) discuss the impact of trust during major incidents, specifically from the oil industry. Oil rigs are typically in remote areas and help may take a long time to reach them. Trust is essential in those situations especially because the crew on the oil rigs are often have to respond to a crisis right away. “The action of explicitly sharing information in a certain way, by invoking trust, helps remind team members of the overriding motive of the activity” (Ibrahim and Allen, 2012, p. 1926). Trust helps improve information sharing (also knowledge sharing) because if we trust someone, we are more likely to share information with them.  Lucas (2005) discusses trust and reputation when it comes to knowledge transfer. Trust and reputation are not the same thing as “we may trust someone to be nice to us, but that has nothing to do with their reputation. We may also be forced to trust someone, although he/she has a bad reputation” (Lucas, 2005, p. 88). One of my favorite quotes from Lucas (2005) is “Access to information does not guarantee its use. There must be some other basis upon which trust is developed.” (p. 97). There is a lot of information and knowledge available but that does not mean people will make use of it. Trust must be developed through other things beside the availability of information. Kamrynwies talks about trust in regards to group projects. That’s a place where trust is important part of whether information is shared or not.

Knowledge transfer is important to organizations (well, not just organizations). It involves a shift in how employees think about knowledge and how they are asked to work in their roles. I like that Lucas talks about making employees realize that there is room for error as long as the overall organization is successful. Errors are not always terrible things and being free to complete errors (at least those that won’t hinder an organization’s success) may help knowledge transfer.