Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, Vol. 8, No. 3, September 2007

The Importance Of The Four Knowledge Management Styles To Industry: Using The HSD Post Hoc Test

Maen Al-hawari, Arab Academy for Financial and Banking Sciences, Jordan

ABSTRACT:

Business managers and academic researchers are seeking to discover processes by which organisations can leverage knowledge for improved performance. It is difficult to discover general principles in this area since knowledge processes vary from industry to industry and from organisation to organisation. It is suggested that a way forward is to categorise these processes within knowledge management styles and then to identify these styles in particular organisations. The question will be asked whether these styles are different in different industries, and if they are different, which one of these styles or a set of them is significantly deployed by the industry. Four dominant knowledge management styles have been identified, namely: adoption, standardisation, systemisation and articulation. Three industries are used to compare the results: system-based, material-based and service-based industries. Using the one-way ANOVA analysis and post-hoc test analysis, it is found that the four knowledge management styles are significantly different according to these industries. In addition, the deployment of these styles is also different according to these industries.

Keywords: Knowledge Management, Industry, Australia, Survey, Quantitative Research


1. Introduction

Al-hawari and Hasan (2002) have developed a knowledge space model (K-space) that has subsequently been used as the basis for research through which four dominant knowledge management styles have been identified, namely: adoption, standardisation, systemisation and articulation (Hasan & Al-hawari 2003). These styles involve a set of drivers derived from the enabler cycles of Von Krogh et al (2000). Knowledge enablers work in cycles to create and transfer knowledge, and are related to how particular managers’ deal with the knowledge assets of the firm (ibid).

The adoption and articulation styles were found to positively affect organisational performance since these styles were usually deployed to good effect by organisations in material–based industries, as is the case in countries such as Australia. These two styles are more human-oriented (Al-hawari & Hasan, 2004). On the other hand, the standardisation and systemisation styles were not found to greatly affect organisational performance since they mostly rely heavily on technical knowledge and technology-based industries, which are not the main focus of most Australian companies (Al-hawari & Hasan, 2004).

The previous research has not yet tested which style, or a set of styles is significantly deployed by the industry. This paper will investigate these styles within the three industries using the one-way ANOVA analysis and post-hoc test.

The paper begins with a brief overview of the knowledge management styles in the literature. It then presents the results of an empirical study that addresses the research question and concludes with a brief discussion and conclusion of these results.

2. Knowledge Management Styles Addressed in the Literature

Knowledge management style is related to how particular managers deal with the knowledge assets of the firm (Birkinshaw 2002) and what approaches they deploy for KM (Jordan & Jones 1997). Style is a personal attribute and so knowledge management style varies from one manager to another, and may be influenced by the culture of their organisation. Some managers recognise knowledge management as a purely technology issue while others recognise it as a strictly human concern. In the technological approach, knowledge is treated as more explicit, and therefore it is usually codified; in the belief that this guarantees efficiency. However, this is rarely the case (Jordan & Jones 1997). Other approaches rely heavily on human knowledge, but are also unlikely to be successful if they are not integrated with approaches linked to modern technology (ibid). The majority of managers recognise knowledge management as a mixture of the human and technical with an emphasis depending on how they classify knowledge itself.

Jordan & Jones (1997) have suggested five dominant knowledge management styles as follows, arguing, as we do, that with one style it is not possible to conduct efficient and effective knowledge management:

1.      The knowledge acquisition style with two dimensions: focus and search.

2.      The problem solving style with four dimensions; ‘location’, ‘procedure’, ‘activity’ and ‘scope’.

3.      The dissemination style with two dimensions: ‘processes’, ‘breadth’. Process describes whether knowledge is shared formally or informally. Breadth describes knowledge sharing as wide or narrow.

4.      The ownership style with two dimensions: identity and resources. Identity refers to the extent to which individuals regard their knowledge base as being part of their own personal identity. On the other hand resource ownership relates to the way in which knowledge is dispersed.

5.      The memory style refers to the orientation adopted within the company for storing knowledge and consists of one dimension, which is representation.

Kusonaki et al (1998) have studied organisational performance through organisational capabilities. Organisational capabilities consist of multilayered knowledge and, based on these layers, are classified into two types, local and process capabilities, along two dimensions: modularity and designability. Using a large-scale data-set on product development organisations of Japanese manufacturing firms, it was found that the dynamic interaction of many knowledge practices plays a crucial role as core capabilities for product development. It was significant that these organisations were relatively competitive and the dynamic interaction of knowledge required individual knowledge to be transferred across the organisation. Typical examples included communication as a technology-oriented practice and coordination as a human-oriented practice across different functional groups.

Choi & Lee (2003) classified four knowledge management styles based on tacit and explicit dimensions. These styles were found to vary from industry to industry. Furthermore, organisations which adopted more dynamic styles had higher performance than others. In the dynamic style, organisations tended to have a mixed approach between human and technology activities.

In a study of nine Korean companies, Lee and Suh (2003) found that seven out of nine companies placed greatest importance on combinations in terms of the SECI knowledge conversion types. The next important process was externalisation. The third one was socialisation and the last one was internalisation. They argued that some companies placed equal amounts of importance on the four types of knowledge conversion. But mostly companies placed different stresses on different types because of different corporate size and situation. They also found that use of the four knowledge-conversion types are different from industry to industry, but did not confirm this by empirical testing.

Knowledge management styles; articulation, adoption, standardisation, systemisation involve a set of activity and knowledge elements that influence the availability (diffusion), codifiability and applicability (abstraction) dimensions of organisational knowledge (Hasan & Al-hawari 2003, 2004). The influence of each style can be determined by different values of these dimensions as follows:

      In Articulation, the choice of knowledge elements results in variable levels of the codification dimension and applicability of knowledge (the abstraction dimension) but the availability of knowledge (the diffusion dimension) is constantly high because the activities provide knowledge that is highly accessible and stored in systems that make it easy to access. The articulation of knowledge constitutes a context for justification (Tell, 1997, 2000; Grand & Von Krogh 2000) and enables the creation of agreed representations and the common representations, which, in turn, allow for better task co-ordination (Prencipe & Tell 2001). In one sense, codification is an extension of articulation brought forward in linguistic and symbolic representation (ibid). Further explicit knowledge is more likely to be articulated and more often captured in the form of text, tables and diagrams (Dayasindhn 2002). Knowledge acquisition in the articulation style is externally focused so that the organisation is deliberately scanning the external environment for ideas and practices.

      In Adoption, the choice of knowledge elements results in variable levels of the availability and applicability of knowledge (the abstraction and diffusion dimensions) but codification is constantly low because the activities involve mainly human knowledge.

      In Standardisation, the choice of knowledge elements results in variable levels of the codification and applicability of knowledge but the availability is constantly low because the activities can be accomplished by a closed team or group. Within such teams there are experts, programmers and analyst who can facilitate the task of knowledge conversion. Here knowledge acquisition is internally focusssed and the organization is seeking knowledge from employees and work-based cases.

      In Systemisation, the choice of knowledge elements results in variable levels of the applicability and availability of knowledge (the abstraction and diffusion dimensions) but codification is constantly high because of the activities involve knowledge which is highly classified and indexed in systems.

None of the previous researches have tested which style, or a set of styles is significantly deployed by the industry. This research will utilize the four styles; articulation, adoption, standardisation, and systemisation in order to test their difference among different industries.

3. Research Design, Data Collection And Analysis

3.1. Questionnaire Development

The questionnaire covers the four knowledge management styles (articulation, adoption, standardisation, systemisation).

The development of the questionnaire began with the production of generic descriptions of a set of knowledge elements selected from the literature, particularly the work on knowledge enablers by von Krogh et al (2000), to cover all constructs proposed. Next, a set of items was developed to measure the constructs. Questionnaire items were developed in an iterative manner based on recommendations from Churchill (1979). First, the author developed a list of candidate items covering the four knowledge management styles from the literature as described above. One manager and two other people working on a knowledge management project in a local company reviewed this list of items. As a result of this some revisions were made to the number and content of the questions. The first draft of questionnaire was constructed by placing each knowledge management practice description at the top of a page, followed by the relevant set of items.

The final questionnaire was developed and the demographic information is added; the age, the sex, number of years working in the organisation, job status, total years income and the highest completed level of education. Each items featured a five-point Likert scale, with response options ranging from "strongly disagree" to" strongly agree." The questionnaire was then reviewed by other researchers and further refined.

The scale was developed based upon two stages approach (Stratman & Roth 2002) and the recommendation of (Churchill 1979). In the first stage, precise definition and requirement items for each construct were developed with the tentative indications of reliability and validity. In the second stage, these items were refined and validated using survey data collected on the scaled developed in the first stage. The reliability testing was done using Cronbach’s alpha seeking a value greater than (0.7) (Nunnally 1978).

3.2. The Administration Of The Questionnaire

In stage one, a pilot study was done to confirm the reliability and the validity of some new scales such as the four knowledge management styles . The data used to validate the scale were collected through the use of self-administrated survey questionnaire. The pilot survey was carried out with 45 managers in different organisational units in a local organisation. These units have their own budget, profit and their own employees and so for the purpose of validation of the four management styles the different departments were taken to represent the different organisations. The number of returned respondents was 30, of which four were discarded from the analysis as many questions were not answered. Therefore, 26 questionnaires were used in the pilot analysis.

In stage 2 the questionnaire was sent to 338 profitable small and medium enterprises. The respondents were executive managers, top managers and middle mangers. 25 were returned as undelivered because of faulty address and 15 cases undelivered because of the managers were no longer at their positions. 8 cases had many missing response items while the total of 152 questionnaires were returned in a form eligible for the analysis. The overall response rate for this study was 45% which was regarded as relatively high, especially as the respondents are managers who are supposed to be too busy to answer questionnaires. The SPSS (version 11) was used for the statistical analysis of the survey data.

3.3. Results

Tables 1, 2, and 3 summarise the respondent characteristics in term of main industry type, total sale revenue and the number of employees.

The three industries are mainly classified based on the product development. Some industries have a system based approach for developing their product, some have a material based approach and some have a service approach. Kusunoki et al (1998) state product development is a field with high uncertainty and complexity, typically requiring firm-specific capabilities. The capability of organizations in term of product development is a result of knowledge implementation in the individual, departmental and whole organization levels ( Ibid).

Choi and lee (2003) investigate a KM styles implementation in different industries according to different department managers’ responses. Organizational knowledge creation and sharing capabilities are underpinned by managers who are shaping the employee positive and negative emotion at work.. Furthermore, these managers set the tone for how a department, a division or the entire firm should perform( Awad & Ghaziri, 2004).

Table 1: Main Industry Types

 

Percent

Frequency

Industry type

12.5

19

System-based

67.1

102

Material-based

20.4

31

Service-based

100

152

Total

 

Table 2: Total Number of Employees

 

Range of employees number

Frequency

Percent

100-200

67

44.1

201-300

17

11.2

301-400

13

8.6

401-500

53

36.1

Total

152

100

 

Table 3: Total Sales Revenue

 

Range of revenue

Frequency

Percent

<=100000000

86

56.6

100000001-200000000

35

23

200000001-300000000

10

6.6

>=300000001

21

13.8

Total

152

100

 

4. The Effect Of Industry Type

One-way ANOVA analysis was used to test whether the industry type is making a significant difference among the four styles or not. For analysis purposes the main industries were divided into three industry groups, system-based industry, material-based industry and service-based industry. Table 4 shows that the three industry types can make significant difference (p<0.05) among the four styles.

Table 4: Industry Types vs. The Four Knowledge Management Styles

 

Knowledge management styles

 

Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

F

Sig*

Adoption

 

 

Between Groups

188.410

2

94.205

5.100

.007

Within Groups

2752.057

149

18.470

 

 

Total

2940.467

151

 

 

 

Systemisation

 

 

Between Groups

94.591

2

47.295

6.493

.002

Within Groups

1085.403

149

7.285

 

 

Total

1179.993

151

 

 

 

Standardisation

 

 

Between Groups

110.505

2

55.252

8.715

.000

Within Groups

944.594

149

6.340

 

 

Total

1055.099

151

 

 

 

Articulation

 

 

Between Groups

1013.125

2

506.563

41.097

.000

Within Groups

1811.915

147

12.326

 

 

Total

2825.040

149

 

 

 

* Significant at the .05 level.


 

5. Post-hoc Analyses

The post-hoc analysis used to find which a style or a set of styles is/are the most important to the industry. The most widely used post hoc test in Psychology and the behavioural sciences is Tukey's Honestly Significant Difference or HSD test (Price, 2004). Post hoc tests can only be used when the 'omnibus' ANOVA found a significant effect (Price, 2004). Table 6 shows the result of Tukey post-hoc analysis. Both the system-based and material based industries are deploying adoption style, since the adoption is significantly different in both industries (p<0.05). On other hand, the adoption style doest not make a significant difference between a service-based industry and the rest (p>.05). Consequently, it seems that the adoption style is not important to the service-industry compared with the other industries.

Because of the significant difference between a system-based and a material-based industry (p<0.05) in one side, and on another side between system- based industry and service-based industry (p<0.05). Therefore, it is not only the systemisation style seems to be important for the three industries, but also it is the most important in the system-based industry than the rest of the industries.

The standardisation style seems to be important for both a system-based and a material-based industry, since there is significant difference between them (p<. 05). Because of neither a system-based, nor a material-based industry make a significant difference (p>0.05) with the service-based industry, it is not the case for the service-based industry.

Finally, both a system-based and a material-based industry have a significant difference in the articulation style (p<0.05). Consequently, the articulation style is deployed in the both industries. Furthermore, there is a significant difference between a material-based and a service-based industry in related to the articulation style (p<0.05). Subsequently, both a material-based and a service –based industry is deploying the articulation style. In addition, the articulation style is the most important style in the material based.


Table 5: Post-hoc Analysis using the Tukey HSD

 

Dependent Variable

 

(I) (

Industry

 

(J)(

ndustry

Mean Difference (I-J)

 

Sig.*

 

Adoption

1.00

2.00

-3.4226

.005

 

 

3.00

-2.7063

.081

 

2.00

3.00

.7163

.696

Systimisation

1.00

2.00

-2.4236

.001

 

 

3.00

-2.1868

.017

 

2.00

3.00

.2369

.904

Standardisation

1.00

2.00

-2.4742

.000

 

 

3.00

-1.3752

.150

 

2.00

3.00

1.0990

.088

Articulation

1.00

2.00

-6.0153

.000

 

 

3.00

-.8472

.686

 

2.00

3.00

5.1681

.000

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.

( 1=system-based industry, 2=material-based industry, 3=service-based industry

 

Table 6: The Importance of Styles to the Three Industries.

 

Industry type

Knowledge management style

Important status

System-based

Adoption

Yes

Systemisation

Most important

Standardisation

Yes

Articulation

Yes

Material-based

Adoption

Yes

Systemisation

Yes

Standardisation

Yes

Articulation

Most important

Service-based

Adoption

No

Systemisation

Yes

Standardisation

No

Articulation

Most important

6. Discussion

The one-way ANOVA analysis shows that the three industries make a significant difference among all the four knowledge management styles. Therefore, the importance of the four styles to each industry is significantly different. In order to investigate which style or a set styles is/are important to the industry, the Tukey HSD is done and the result is summarised in Table 6.

First, in a system-based industry the four styles seem to be important and deployed. The systemisation style is the most important in the system-based industry. Thus may be referred to the dominant type of knowledge in this industry is explicit knowledge and, when knowledge is explicit, technology is more suitable to deal strongly with that knowledge regarding transfer and storage (Nonaka & Takeuch, 1995; Boisot 1998; Dayasindhn, 2002).

Second, in a material-based industry, the four styles are important and the most important one is the articulation style. In the articulation style knowledge acquisition is externally focused and the organisation deliberately scans the external environment for ideas and practises. In addition, In the articulation style, knowledge is focused on the search for incremental improvement to existing products .Materials-based companies usually have some products that they want to keep in their market as long as they can. This explains why they are heavily scanning the external environment for ideas and then articulate it to figures, texts and images based on their understanding to use it later to improve their products and stay in the market. Du Toit (2003) focused on the importance of scanning the external environment to acquire a competitive knowledge in South Africa where the most industries are material-based (Du Toit 2003). Further, it will be more expensive for these companies to develop a new product than it is in system-based or service based industries, because material-based companies have to make costly changes such as production lines or the raw materials themselves.

Finally, in the service-based industry neither adoption nor standardisation are important but systemisation and articulation are important for this industry. Further, the most important style is the articulation. The reason may be that those organisations place great emphasis on achieving reasonable customer satisfaction. Because of that, employees are encouraged and trained to use the latest in technology to communicate with customers and get their feedback, since customer can now more easily turn to the other organisations to satisfy his or her requirements.

7. Conclusion

This research has contributed in a practical way to a deeper understanding of knowledge management in relation to managerial styles in real organisations. Many managers are facing difficulties in implementing knowledge management activities, because they are not clear of the effectiveness of these activities, and of the way that they affect organisational performance. This study helps managers and organisations to more clearly define their knowledge management strategies.

The success of knowledge management practice is dependent on the extent to which an organisation is willing to deploy the four knowledge management styles. The ability and decision to deploy one or all of knowledge management styles depends on a manager’s capability to analyse the importance of each style. Some managers prefer to deploy one style over another because of its low cost, or their experience in that way of managing.

The industry type can be considered a firm's external factor. The result implies that this factor come into play in formulating management styles. Effective KM requires a symbiosis between explicit and tacit knowledge. This symbiosis should streamline the interplay between information technology and human resource management processes

The results show that the systemisation style is the most important style to the system-based industry. The managers are relying on the electronic channels to support the social networks. It may require higher costs, e.g. dynamic costs are likely to be influenced by the size and complexity of the social network. Nevertheless, the managers in this style have to strength and maintain the communication in their firms, the costs of maintaining linkages usually increase exponentially as it increases in size. in addition, managers should see if the benefits of a KMS outweigh the costs of its implementation.

The articulation style suits organisations that frequently scan the external environment for new knowledge or challenges, it is most useful in material-based and service-based industries. The managers in these two industries are always seeking and scanning the external environment to develop their work.. therefore, they have to implement a systems that help them to scan and analyze the external environment such as intelligent business tools(IB) , OLAP, and ..etc.

Although the four styles have different uses in different industries, this should not stop managers from setting up a balances approach of these styles within their organisation. Setting up this approach takes time and money. It can be achieved by accumulating capital, technology, manpower and experience. However, when organisations intend to increase their knowledge management capability, they should use their own qualified specialists before they get outside assistance.

The results of this paper show that the deploying of the four knowledge management styles is significantly different according to the industry. Consequently, there is a need always to test the importance and efficiency of knowledge management styles not only in different industries, but also in different countries and thus will be valuable research. We suggest to have the same research in different countries and different industries and then we will have a chance to compare the research results. Therefore, the result of this research will be validated.

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Contact the Author:

Dr. Maen Al-hawari, Arab Academy for Financial and Banking Sciences, MIS Department, Faculty of Information Systems and Technology; Amman-Jordan, P.O.Box 13190, Zip code 13190; Tel.: +962795661975; Email: hawari_jordan@yahoo.com