The Old Order Changeth: Building Sustainable Knowledge Management Post COVID-19

The Old Order Changeth: Building Sustainable Knowledge Management Post COVID-19

Debolina Dutta, Chaitali Vedak, Harshal Sawant

Journal: Vine Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems

Abstract: Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in research on Knowledge Management (KM), a critical component for ensuring organizational success and continuity. KM in organizations helps generate, share, retain and utilize information, enhancing organizational performance. Organizations strive to create a strong KM culture that capitalizes on knowledge and helps capture value. However, the pandemic and the resulting rapid and large-scale digitization changed how firms recognized and understood knowledge curation and management. The widespread socio-economic global loss emphasized the need for sustainable and robust KM systems, while the increased dependence and influence of digital technologies and applications emerged. It is still unclear how managers may leverage the wide landscape of available digital technologies and apply and use sustainable knowledge management (SKM) practices for competitive advantage. 

The authors use a qualitative case study design to examine the KM systems and practices in knowledge-intensive organizations across diverse industry sectors that have quantified and systemized the complex KM processes. Their study discovers how organizations developed SKM structures amidst a global pandemic with increasing human-technology agency interactions. They first summarized extant literature on KM practices relevant to knowledge-intensive organizations. They analyzed their KM contexts with stakeholder interviews from five disparate industries – Energy Management, Management Consulting, Manufacturing, Chemicals, and Education. They examined the similarities and differences in the KM practices that these organizations had before and after the pandemic to baseline various KM behaviors, policies, procedures, enabling systems, and organizational support to build a strong KM culture within the organization.  

Their study addresses research and practice gaps by adopting a practice lens to examine evolving structures in KM due to increased digitization. Their paper highlights the enabling structures and practices leaders can utilize to build robust, sustainable KM systems relevant to a post-pandemic era. They argue that knowledge management digitization and adoption support socialization in knowledge sharing. Further, formalization through organizational enabling systems aids the externalization of knowledge sharing. Deliberate practices promoted with leadership support are likely to sustain in the post-COVID era. Further, organizations that evolved ad-hoc or idiosyncratic approaches to managing hybrid working are more likely to revert to legacy knowledge management systems. They eventually theorize about the socialization of human-to-human and technology-mediated human interactions and develop the three emerging sustainable KM structures.

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