Deploying knowledge management and securing future sponsorship within a highly hierarchical 'role-based' organisational culture

This paper describes the latest research in Knowledge Management (KM) that is being carried out at the headquarters of The Danwood Group, Lincoln, UK as part of a collaborative doctoral research initiative with the Department of Computer Science, Loughborough University. The primary aim of this project is to develop a practical, business-oriented approach to managing knowledge within an organisation. The four key areas that have been recognised as critical to the success of a KM scheme are ‘strategy’, ‘technology’, ‘measurement’ and ‘culture’. The latter is being explored in this paper, where the authors give an insight into the difficulties of deploying KM in an organisation that is characterised by its traditional ‘rolebased’ culture and highly hierarchical management structure. Performing research in a commercial environment instantly highlights the need for practical outcomes. Danwood, like many companies that invest into research projects, want to see tangible business-term results. However, the benefits of KM are hard to demonstrate on such strict timescales, which would inherently result in a growing resistance by top-level management towards further investment. This paper suggests ‘KM activities’ should be labelled with terms that are relevant and conceivable by the organisation and progressively integrated with mission-critical business processes that will generate faster bottom-line results. The aim is to highlight KM as creditable for these benefits and secure future investment into an ‘official’ KM scheme. The additional advantage of this approach is that it facilitates the need for a cautious, moderately paced adaptation of KM techniques to the particular organisational culture.