Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
The subject knowledge management is of great relevance in knowledge intensive organizations such as consulting firms or high-tech businesses, since their business model builds on the knowledge of the em- ployees. Knowledge management is a broad subject that includes, among others, organizational theory, cognitive science, and IT.
The literature study has its foundation in knowledge and how both tacit and explicit knowledge can be transferred between individuals or within an organization. A common organizational structure among consulting firms is the project based organization, therefore challenges related to knowledge management within such organizations, is studied. Different strategies for knowledge management are presented and various methods for knowledge transfer are categorized and assessed. An in depth look into knowledge management in consulting firms end the literature study partnered with a review of affecting factors and tools involved in knowledge exchange and distribution of best practices. The purpose is to create a framework with which to analyze how a case company, a technological consulting firm, works with knowledge exchange. The research questions focus on factors that affect knowledge exchange, what fo- rums and tools drive knowledge exchange, and how best practices are collected and implemented.
Barriers to functional knowledge exchange that have been encountered include that many of the employed consultants are permanently stationed with customers in their projects, rendering contact with colleagues from the home office sparse. This, combined with a lack of management control and structure in the case of knowledge, affects and limits the knowledge exchange.
Tools and forums for knowledge exchange were identified and show how knowledge is spread in the or- ganization. A majority of the knowledge exchange is found to take place through person-to-person inter- action through mentorship, working in projects, and through contacts that to not constitute a part of con- scious knowledge management. The organization employs a business system where templates and tools are available to the consultants along with documentation from prior projects and reference projects. The management view is that this system is to function as an important platform for learning and knowledge exchange, in essence a knowledge management system, but the system is burdened by technical issues that lead consultants to circumnavigate the system by using templates and tools provided by colleagues instead of the ones officially provided by the system.
No structures for continuous development of best practices were identified, although specific projects to update routines and methods occur from time to time on an ad-hoc basis. That lack of structures and routines track back to the handling of consultants’ suggestions for improvements and ideas, where con- sultants experience a lack of directives, support and understanding of how their suggestions and ideas were supposed to be handled in the organization.
A conclusion regarding knowledge management in a technical consulting firm is hence that organizational and cultural factors have a significant impact on the exchange of knowledge. A shortage of opportunities for contact and knowledge exchange with colleagues combined with lacking management control affects the exchange negatively, but the company also displays several success factors that research point out important in order to build a functioning knowledge management system. These include an openness and willingness to share amongst colleagues, in combination with an understanding of the importance of knowledge exchange in the organization that transcends organizational hierarchy.
2015. , 90 p.
Kunskapsstyrning, Konsultfirmor, Kunskapsspridning, Organisationsteori, Teknikkonsultbolag, Best practice