The prevention of project knowledge amnesia

Schacht, Silvia

Document Type: Doctoral dissertation
Year of publication: 2015
Place of publication: Mannheim
University: Universität Mannheim
Evaluator: Mädche, Alexander
Date of oral examination: 11 November 2014
Publication language: English
Institution: Business School > Wirtschaftsinformatik IV (Mädche 2009-2015)
Subject: 650 Management
Subject headings (SWD): Management , Project <Programm> , Wissensmanagement
Keywords (English): Project Knowledge Management , Knowledge Management Systems , Project Knowledge Reuse
Abstract: Knowledge is created and gets lost since the existence of mankind. While in some cases this knowledge loss has no effects, in organizations the loss of knowledge may result in repeating mistakes or reinventing the wheel by finding already known solutions and thus, in a decrease of organizational performance. In particular in projects, the loss or low reuse of knowledge can be often observed. This effect is referred to as project am-nesia. Many researchers in the Information Systems, Organization Learning and Com-puter Science are focusing their studies on preventing project amnesia by increasing pro-ject-based learning activities. Thus, the research field related to knowledge and its man-agement is heavily frequented and there exists a tremendous amount of research results. On the one hand, many researchers aim to understand the phenomenon knowledge and its management, following the behavioral approach. Thereby, the researchers mainly fo-cus on the social aspects related to knowledge like communication and trust between knowledge providers and seekers. On the other hand, some researchers aim to solve the issues related to project amnesia by designing information systems artifacts as solutions, focusing on technical aspects. However, only few researchers are taking the socio-technical perspective into account, considering the social and technical dimension of knowledge. Furthermore, in order to design a knowledge management system (KMS) most researchers are concerned with the storage and retrieval of knowledge, neglecting the fact that only knowledge reuse will result in an increased performance and competi-tive advantage. Consequently, this doctoral thesis addresses the two gaps by designing a socio-technical project KMS that aims to increase the reuse of project-related knowledge within and among project teams. In an Action Design Research (ADR) project, appropriate meta-requirements have been extracted by (1) conducting an exploratory interview study in a case company, and (2) validating the results of the study by a systematic literature analysis. The results have been translated into design principles and at the end of the first ADR cycle evaluated. Thereby, the design principles have been transformed into concrete functionalities, re-sulting in a first conceptual design of the project KMS. After receiving feedback on the conceptual design from the case company, the design principles have been refined and the final project KMS artifact has been realized in the second ADR cycle. Although, at the beginning of the ADR project the case company urged to design a pro-ject knowledge management (KM) technology, the results of the first ADR cycle re-vealed the need to enable the direct communication of knowledge for project-based learning. Thus, a socio-technical project KMS has been designed consisting of three main parts: (1) a knowledge intermediary being responsible to support project teams in documenting and reusing valuable knowledge, (2) a knowledge-centric project manage-ment process aiming to guide project teams when and how to conduct a lessons learned session in order to reuse project knowledge, and (3) a project KM technology supporting the organization’s employees to document, store and retrieve valuable project knowledge. In particular, the knowledge intermediary is today heavily used in the case company. In two evaluations, the effects of the designed project KMS have been meas-ured and demonstrated. The data reveal, that participants of lessons learned sessions that are using a knowledge intermediary are significantly more satisfied with the social interaction than in lessons learned sessions previously conducted in the case company. According the Situated Learning Theory, the increased satisfaction with social interac-tion also leads to higher project-based learning. Consequently, the design principles and the project KMS contribute to the existing body of knowledge by solving a main issue of project-based learning. Often, project team members perceive lessons learned sessions as waste of time and thus, are less motivated to participate in such sessions. By the designed project KMS, the project team members did not show such a lack in motivation. Rather, the longitudinal study demonstrates that the effects of the project KMS are stable over time. Furthermore, the doctoral thesis contributes to existing research by presenting a design theory, not only considering the technical opportunities of managing knowledge, but also the social requirements and possibilities. In contrast to previous design theories, the design theory presented in this doctoral thesis also demonstrates its effects in a real-world setting instead of a synthetic environment as done in experiments. By conducting the ADR project in a case company and providing clear guidelines how to design and implement a project KMS, the doctor-al thesis also contributes to practice.

Dieser Eintrag ist Teil der Universitätsbibliographie.

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