Knowledge management and higher education: a UK case study using grounded theory.
University of Southampton, School of Management,
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in general, and universities in the UK in particular, are complex organisations, each characterised by a distinctive ethos, particular history, mission, size, and shape, being highly autonomous, yet bound together by the identical challenges of massification, the emergence of greater accountability imposed by the government, sharp financial cuts, a greater emphasis on student satisfaction, globalisation, the knowledge economy, marketisation and advances in information and communications technologies. Some scholars contend that strategic management of Knowledge and the knowledge asse ts of a university can provide the competitive advantage that universities need, as well as provide a solution to address some of these challenges, providing many potential benefits to each area of Higher Education. However, have HEIs adopted Knowledge Management on an institutional level to enhance its competitive advantage? What are the perceptions and practices of Knowledge Management within the HEI context; what are the contributing factors that hinder or promote the use of Knowledge Management within the Higher Education context? A cursory literature review could not answer these questions and hence , this sequential, quantitative-qualitative, mixed-methodology, multi-site case study,investigated these questions within the context of the United Kingdom Higher Education universities. The research, presented in two phases, with the first phase providing an overview of the state of Knowledge Management within the UK universities, and the second phase presenting the findings of an in-depth multi-site case study, conducted using Grounded Theory as a methodology, suggests that Knowledge Management tools and techniques were beginning to be used on an institutional level as a management tool within the Higher Education context in the UK; however, it was not being used extensively, and was implemented in pockets, with emphasis on Information Management more than Knowledge Management, and not generally in a systemic way. The research further suggests that the contributing factors that had an influence on Knowledge Management not being used extensively within this context were varying, and included: the characteristics of universities and the nature of academic work, and the perceptions of Knowledge and Knowledge Management within this context. Despite this, a number were beginning to implement Knowledge Management systemically across the university. The research, and this thesis, presents a substantive theory for Knowledge Management in Higher Education, and has contributed to the field of Knowledge Management and Higher Education by identifying the current practices and perceptions of Knowledge Management within the context of Higher Education in the UK, and the factors that hinder its use within this context
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