Creating a knowledge organisation through cultural transformation: Rethinking the paradigm

Dr Neil E. Béchervaise
NB Consulting [Australasia] Pty Ltd
Scott Bourke
Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship
Swinburne University of Technology

Michael Shephard
Write It Pty Limited
Key words: Knowledge Management, Transformational Change, Organisational Communication
Executive Summary
Eighty per cent of all change implementations fail. Using information from several medium sized Australian manufacturing organisations, this paper proposes the centrality of knowledge management in preparing organisations for significant change. Arguing towards the development of a 'knowledge organisation', this paper:
Creating a knowledge organisation - an organisation that has the creation, transfer and application of knowledge at the heart of everything that it does - remains a significant challenge in the KM field.
While growing volumes of research emphasise the inextricable linkage between culture and KM, we still know very little about the importance of culture or the respective roles of leadership or communication in change implementation. A leading multi-firm case study on successful KM initiatives (United States Conference Board, 2000) emphasises the critical importance of culture, the value of leadership and the constitutive role of communication in large-scale KM initiatives. Using the US Conference Board report and our own studies in the field, this paper proposes approaches to the generation of cultural frameworks supportive of large-scale KM initiatives.
The Conference Board study suggests that intra-organisational understanding and appreciation of cultural, leadership and communication issues in the context of developing and implementing large-scale KM initiatives may be a leading indicator of the initiative's success. Our findings support and extend this view and argue the need for a more complex understanding of organisational culture in its response to impending change.
In conclusion, the paper argues that substantial and lasting change requires a 'knowledge organisation' because change initiatives cannot survive an unprepared organisational culture.
Presented to Standards Australia KM Challenge Conference May, 2002 Sydney, Australia
See conference papers (2002) of Standards Australia for the full text of this paper.