Corporate education employee development

Applying Corporate Knowledge Management Practices in Higher Education corporate education group business analysis
Dr.AshleyBurciaga Profile Pic
Published Date:05-07-2017
Your Website URL(Optional)
Applying Corporate Knowledge Management Practices in Higher Education Colleges and universities have significant opportunities to apply knowledge management practices to support every part of their mission by Jillinda J. Kidwell, Karen M. Vander Linde, and Sandra L. Johnson re the concepts of knowledge We believe there is tremendous value tual assets into enduring value. It con- management (KM) applicable to to higher education institutions that nects people with the knowledge that Acolleges and universities? Some develop initiatives to share knowledge to they need to take action, when they would argue that sharing knowledge is achieve business objectives. This article need it. In the corporate sector, manag- their raison d’être. If that is the case, then the outlines the basic concepts of knowledge ing knowledge is considered key to higher education sector should be replete management as it is applied in the cor- achieving breakthrough competitive with examples of institutions that leverage porate sector, considers trends, and advantage. knowledge to spur innovation, improve explores how it might be applied in But what is knowledge? Knowledge customer service, or achieve operational higher education and whether higher starts as data—raw facts and numbers— excellence. However, although some education is ready to embrace it. for example, the market value of an insti- examples exist, they are the exception tution’s endowment. Information is data rather than the rule. Knowledge manage- Knowledge Basics put into context—in the same example, ment is a new field, and experiments are Knowledge management is the process the endowment per student at a particu- just beginning in higher education. of transforming information and intellec- lar institution. Information is readily cap- EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY • Number 4 2000 28tured in documents or in databases; even the people in an organization. It involves management is to make the right knowl- large amounts are fairly easy to retrieve perceptions, insights, experiences, and edge available to the right people at the with modern information technology craftsmanship. Tacit knowledge is: right time. systems. • Personal Before acting on information, how- • Context-specific New Trends in Knowledge ever, we need to take one more step. • Difficult to formalize Management Only when information is combined • Difficult to communicate Several trends will shape the field of with experience and judgment does it • More difficult to transfer knowledge management in the not-too- become knowledge. Knowledge can be Most business actions require the distant future: highly subjective and hard to codify. It guidance of both explicit and tacit • Emerging technology solutions includes the insight and wisdom of knowledge. • The convergence of knowledge man- employees. It may be shared through e- How does knowledge work in organi- agement with e-business mailed “best practices” memos or even zations? Knowledge originates in indi- • The movement from limited knowl- sticky notes on a cubicle wall. And once viduals, but it is embodied in teams and edge management projects to more we have knowledge, we can put it to organizations, as shown in Figure 1. In enterprisewide projects work and apply it to decision making. an organization, examples of explicit • Increasing use of knowledge manage- A popular framework for thinking knowledge are strategies, methodolo- ment to enhance innovation about knowledge proposes two main gies, processes, patents, products, and • Increasing use of tacit knowledge types of knowledge: explicit and tacit (see services. Examples of tacit knowledge in (rather than explicit knowledge) 1 Figure 1). Explicit knowledge is docu- an organizational context are skills and mented information that can facilitate competencies, experiences, relationships EMERGING TECHNOLOGY action. It can be expressed in formal, within and outside the organization, SOLUTIONS shared language. Examples include for- individual beliefs and values, and ideas. Lotus Notes, the software that packaged mulas, equations, rules, and best prac- Knowledge also is embedded in work e-mail with data repositories and basic tices. Explicit knowledge is: processes, and it exists in all core func- collaborative tools, was the first catalyst • Packaged tions of an organization as well as in its for knowledge management. Since Notes, • Easily codified systems and infrastructure. Effective most KM applications (including later • Communicable knowledge management programs iden- versions of Notes) have migrated to • Transferable tify and leverage the know-how embed- intranet-friendly, Web-based platforms. Tacit knowledge is know-how and ded in work, with a focus on how it will Currently available solutions for search learning embedded within the minds of be applied. The challenge in knowledge and retrieval, e-mail, collaboration, and so forth are much better today than they Figure 1:Tacit and Explicit Knowledge were even a year ago. However, no single Know-how and learning application does all of these things well. Documented information embedded within the It is likely that the next “killer applica- that can facilitate action minds of the people in the organization tion” for knowledge management will be Perceptions the corporate portal—a gateway to Formulate, Books, Mental Equations, Databases, models, Insights Know-how Rules Text Patterns applications that integrate collaborative Experiences Explicit tools, business intelligence, and unstruc- Tacit Knowledge Knowledge tured text search capabilities. Portals Best Procedures Beliefs, practice and Policies started as a way to organize a variety of Skills, Values Packaged Personal Craftmanship Easily codified Context-specific Products, Designs, Web-based information sources on one Communicable Machines Blueprints Difficult to formalize Transferable Difficult to desktop interface: a search tool, news Can be communicate expressed in More difficult to feeds, links to favorite Web sites, content formal, shared transfer language organized by topic, and so forth. Corpo- rate portals do the same thing, allowing Knowledge guides actions and informs decisions. users to customize their desktops to Source: Copyright 2000, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP show information from a variety of Number 4 2000 • EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY 29sources within the organization (and One reason for this trend is that the pany could be recognized as a best-prac- usually from outside the firewall as well). Web-based technologies that support e- tice exemplar of knowledge management Some universities are already making business are now being applied to sup- by having a single successful initiative— use of the corporate portal concept. For port KM (and vice versa). A more pow- for having developed a robust intranet, for example, one major state university sys- erful reason is that both disciplines are instance, or initiating communities of tem is developing Web-based portals to about creating conversations, sharing practice or redesigning a core business deliver integrated services previously knowledge, and building communities. process around knowledge sharing. addressed in a very disaggregated fash- Knowledge management has been about This early tendency to focus on one ion. The business objectives of the first breaking down barriers within the orga- type of initiative has fueled the debate portal—for the university’s central nization, and e-business has been about between experts advocating a technocen- administration—include institutional breaking down barriers between the tric approach to knowledge management marketing, creating brand identity, organization and its customers. and those advocating a learning-centric building community with prospective A major application of the conver- approach. Organizations are already real- students and parents, becoming the gate- gence of e-business and knowledge man- izing that it does no good to have robust way for finding information about uni- agement will be in managing business- technology solutions if the existing cul- versity resources and programs, and pro- to-business customer relationships. ture prevents knowledge sharing, and viding a rich information environment conversely that it does little good to have for decision making. The portal serves pockets of robust knowledge sharing Knowledge management has multiple functions for multiple cus- without some technological means of tomers with one tool. making knowledge widely accessible. been about breaking down Development of a second, similar por- As organizations share their lessons barriers within the tal supports the vision of a new inter- learned about implementing knowledge campus collaborative for teaching and organization, and e-business management programs, some are discov- learning with technology. That vision ering the interdependent nature of KM has been about breaking calls for uniting the collective interests capabilities. They are finding that a bal- down barriers between the and goals of the campuses in the system anced portfolio of knowledge manage- in nurturing excellence in the use of ment initiatives yields the best results organization and its technology for teaching and learning. and that excelling at technology-related customers. The portal will improve the efficiency of capabilities does not preclude excelling knowledge exchange and deliver a set of at people- or process-related capabilities. shared business objectives that include (In fact, excelling in one area may well communications around best practices, a Extending the organization’s communi- depend on excelling in another.) gateway to research on the use of teach- ties to include the customer in the gen- ing and learning through technology, eration and exchange of knowledge MOVING FROM BEST PRACTICES professional development, policy devel- promises to be an effective competitive TO INNOVATION opment and review, and resource devel- advantage. A March 2000 Conference Board survey opment. The portal provides the faculty report indicated that most knowledge members at the individual campuses with FROM LIMITED PROJECTS TO management programs are still focused on efficient, direct links to current knowl- HOLISTIC PROGRAMS creating repositories for storing and dif- edge about teaching and learning As knowledge management matures as a fusing best practices, focusing on opera- 2 through technology among the cam- corporate discipline, more companies will tional excellence and cost reduction. puses of the university system, nation- gravitate toward a more holistic approach While many companies have earned a ally, and internationally. to KM. Research shows that although significant payback from these efforts, the many companies have begun to develop real payoff may lie in applying knowledge CONVERGENCE WITH E-BUSINESS some sort of knowledge management management to spur innovation. The trend toward portals as the technol- capability, very few (6 percent) have Nokia is a good example of a company ogy tool of choice for knowledge leads implemented knowledge management that has applied knowledge management to another trend: the convergence of programs on an enterprisewide scale. to encourage innovation in its R&D and knowledge management and e-business. Over the past two or three years, a com- product development functions. The EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY • Number 4 2000 30company uses knowledge management staff who possess institutional knowl- ent in an institution’s readiness to practices to make sense of market trends edge. For example, what institution does embrace knowledge management is its and customer requirements and quickly not have a faculty member who has led culture—the beliefs, values, norms, and puts that knowledge into action in the successful curriculum revision task behaviors that are unique to an organiza- product development pipeline. Industry forces? Or a departmental secretary who tion. Informally, it is the unwritten rules 3 analysts report that Nokia delivers a new knows how to navigate the complex pro- or “how things really get done.” Higher mobile communication product about posal development or procurement pro- education is moving from the old culture every 25 days. cesses? Or a researcher who has informal that considers, “What’s in it for me?” to a connections to the National Science new culture that says, “What’s in it for ADVANCES IN WORKING WITH Foundation? Or a special assistant to the our customer?” And it is developing a TACIT KNOWLEDGE president who has uncovered (or gener- culture that is ready to embrace knowl- Explicit knowledge, which consists of ated) useful reports that individual deans edge management. formulas, equations, rules, and best prac- or department chairs could use to As institutions launch knowledge man- tices, is easier to work with than tacit develop their own strategic plans? agement initiatives, they can learn lessons knowledge, which involves perceptions, Relying on the institutional knowledge from their counterparts in the corporate experiences, and insights because it can of unique individuals can hamper the sector. Some key points to remember are: be recorded, stored in databases, and • Start with strategy. Before doing any- transported easily. The problem is that it thing else, determine what you is a little too portable—if you have it want to accomplish with knowledge today, your competitors will likely have it management. An institutionwide approach tomorrow. And in any case, the mechan- • Organizational infrastructure—human to knowledge management ics of managing explicit knowledge are resources, financial measurements of sufficiently well known that it will not success, and information technology— can lead to exponential provide a lasting competitive advantage. should support knowledge manage- improvements in sharing The ability to manage tacit knowl- ment. Think of technology as an enabler, and edge, on the other hand, promises to knowledge. measure the impact of KM in financial deliver huge returns for organizations terms, such as cost reductions, cus- that learn to use it effectively. The rea- tomer satisfaction, and speed to market. son is that in the most valuable knowl- • Seek a high-level champion for the initiative— edge-intensive businesses—software flexibility and responsiveness of any someone who believes in its benefits development, say, or product design— organization. The challenge is to convert and who can advocate as needed. the difference between a good performer the information that currently resides in • Select a pilot project for knowledge manage- and the best performer is huge. And the those individuals and make it widely and ment—ideally one with high impact on difference that matters most lies in tacit easily available to any faculty member, the organization but of low risk to build knowledge: a deep understanding of staff person, or other constituent. credibility for knowledge management. how to act on knowledge effectively. An institutionwide approach to If possible, make the pilot one that par- knowledge management can lead to ticipants will enjoy and find rewarding. Applying KM in Higher exponential improvements in sharing • Develop a detailed action plan for the pilot that Education knowledge—both explicit and tacit— defines the process, the IT infrastruc- Using knowledge management tech- and the subsequent surge benefits. ture, and the roles and incentives of the niques and technologies in higher educa- Tables 1 through 5 illustrate how knowl- pilot project team. tion is as vital as it is in the corporate sec- edge management applications could • After the pilot, assess the results and refine tor. If done effectively, it can lead to better benefit a number of university processes the action plan. decision-making capabilities, reduced and services: the research process, cur- “product” development cycle time (for riculum development process, student Summary example, curriculum development and and alumni services, administrative ser- Colleges and universities have significant research), improved academic and admin- vices, and strategic planning. opportunities to apply knowledge man- istrative services, and reduced costs. Is higher education ready to embrace agement practices to support every part of Consider the number of faculty and knowledge management? A key ingredi- their mission—from education to public Number 4 2000 • EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY 31Table 1: Application and Benefits of KM for the Research Process Knowledge Management Application Benefits • Increased competitiveness and A repository of: • Research interests within an institution or at affiliated institutions (potential responsiveness for research subcontractors). grants, contracts, and commercial • Research results (where possible) and funding organizations (federal agencies, foundations, opportunities. and corporations) with easy search capabilities to facilitate interdisciplinary opportunities. • Reduced turnaround time for research. • Commercial opportunities for research results. • Minimized devotion of research A portal for research administration procedures and best practices related to: resources to administrative tasks. • Funding opportunities. • Facilitation of interdisciplinary • Pre-populated proposals, budgets, and protocols. research. • Leveraging of previous research • Proposal-routing policies and procedures. • Award notification, account setup, and negotiation policies and procedures. and proposal efforts. • Contract and grant management policies and procedures. • Improved internal and external • Technical and financial report templates and policies and procedures. services and effectiveness. • Overview of internal services, resources, and staff. • Reduced administrative costs. Table 2: Application and Benefits of KM for the Curriculum Development Process Knowledge Management Application Benefits • Repository of curriculum revision efforts that includes research conducted, effective- • Enhanced quality of curriculum and pro- ness measures, best practices, lessons learned, and so forth. grams by identifying and leveraging best • Repository of content modularized and arranged to facilitate interdisciplinary curricu- practices and monitoring outcomes. lum design and development. • Improved speed of curriculum revision • Portal of information related to teaching and learning with technology, including fac- and updating. ulty development opportunities, outcomes tracking, lessons learned, best practices, • Enhanced faculty development efforts, technology overviews, and so forth. especially for new faculty. • “Hubs” of information in each disciplinary area, including updated materials, recent • Improved administrative services publications, applicable research, and so forth. related to teaching and learning with • Repository of pedagogy and assessment techniques, including best practices, out- technology. comes tracking, faculty development opportunities, and research. • Improved responsiveness by monitoring • Repository of analyzed student evaluations updated each semester for lessons and incorporating lessons learned from learned and best practices for all faculty. the experiences of colleagues, student • Portal for new faculty with guides for developing curriculum, working with senior fac- evaluations, and corporate or other ulty, establishing effective teaching styles, advising do’s and don’ts, supervising PhD stu- constituent input. dents, and so forth. • Interdisciplinary curriculum design and • Repository of corporate relationships to identify curriculum design advisory task development facilitated by navigating forces, guest speakers, adjuncts, case study sites, and so forth. across departmental boundaries. Table 3: Application and Benefits of KM for Student and Alumni Services Knowledge Management Application Benefits • Portal for student services for both students and for faculty and staff at the institution so that they • Improved services for students. are well informed to advise students. Information could include policies and procedures related to • Improved service capability of admissions, financial aid, registration, degree audit, billing, payment process, advising and tutoring, faculty and staff. housing, dining, and other services.This portal could be personalized for individual schools or stu- • Improved services for dent groups to customize service offerings. alumni and other external • Portal for career placement services (potentially part of a large portal for all corporate connec- constituents. tions) to provide a one-stop service center for students, but also for faculty and staff to ensure they • Improved effectiveness and are informed. efficiency of advising efforts (to • Repository of student affairs services for faculty and staff to ensure all constituents understand integrate fragmented efforts existing services and can provide proper advising. currently undertaken by fac- • Portal for alumni and development services to minimize redundant efforts; capture contact reports; ulty, academic support staff, and link to research, curriculum, and career development efforts. student services staff, and stu- • Portal for information on outreach constituents to integrate efforts and minimize redundant efforts. dent affairs staff. EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY • Number 4 2000 32Table 4: Application and Benefits of KM for Administrative Services Knowledge Management Application Benefits • Portal for financial services (that is, budgeting and accounting) that includes • Improved effectiveness and efficiency of adminis- FAQs, best practices, procedures, templates, and communities of interest to trative services. share information and serve as impetus for improvement efforts. • Enhanced ability to identify improvement efforts. • Portal for procurement (that is, purchasing, accounts payable, receiving, ware- • Improved ability to support the trend toward housing) that includes FAQs, best practices, procedures, templates, and com- decentralization (for example, local business cen- munities of interest (for example, by commodity, purchasing vehicle, vendor, ters) by providing guidelines for consistency. and so forth) to share information and serve as impetus for improvement • Improved compliance with administrative policies efforts (for example, leverage lessons learned from others in the institution, such as procurement, preferred vendors, procure- design on-line vendor sites such as Web-based catalogs). ment card policies, budgeting procedures, affirma- • Portal for human resources (that is, vacancy-to-hire, payroll, affirmative action, tive action guidelines, and so forth. and so forth) that includes FAQs, best practices, procedures, templates, and • Improved responsiveness and communication communities of interest to share information and serve as impetus for capabilities. improvement efforts. Table 5: Application and Benefits of KM for Strategic Planning Knowledge Management Application Benefits • Office of Knowledge Management, emerging from the previous Office of • Improved ability to support the trend toward Institutional Research. decentralized strategic planning and decision • Portal for internal information that catalogs the strategic plans, reports making (for example, block budgeting, responsi- developed for external audiences (for example, IPEDS, accreditation bility center management). Better information reports), clear data definitions, presentations by executives, and so forth. leads to better decisions • Portal for external information, including benchmark studies, environ- • Improved sharing of internal and external infor- mental scans, competitor data, links to research groups, higher education mation to minimize redundant efforts and lessen research groups and publications, presentations by executives, and so the reporting burden plaguing many institutions forth. today. • Monthly “market watch” developed in tandem with Admissions, Continu- • Enhanced ability to develop up-to-date and ing Education,Alumni and Development, and others that document key market-focused strategic plans. trends and potential implications. • Shared knowledge from a variety of con- • Repository of data related to accountability and outcomes tracking by stituents to begin to create a “learning organiza- monitoring assessments, performance indicators, benchmarking, and so tion” which is responsive to market trends. forth. service to research. Knowledge manage- Endnotes: © 2001 Jossey-Bass Inc. 1. T. M. Koulopoulos and C. Frappaolo, Smart ment should not strike higher education Things to Know about Knowledge Management (Dover, This article was adapted from a chapter by institutions as a radically new idea; rather, NH: Capstone US, 1999); M. Polanyi, The Tacit the authors that appears in Gerald Bernbom, Dimension (London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1967). it is a new spin on their raison d’être. But ed., Information Alchemy: The Art and Science of 2. B. Hackett, Beyond Knowledge Management: New implementing knowledge management Knowledge Management (San Francisco: Jossey- Ways to Work (New York: The Conference practices wisely is a lesson that the Board, March 2000). Bass, A Wiley Company, 2001) and is re- 3. Ibid. smartest organizations in the corporate printed here with permission. It is the third and not-for-profit sectors are learning all title in the EDUCAUSE Leadership Strate- gies series. A complimentary copy of the over again. e Jillinda J. Kidwell ( is a book has been sent to each EDUCAUSE partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC); Karen Acknowledgments member organization; additional copies may M. Vander Linde (karen.m.vanderlindeus.pwcglobal. The authors appreciate the contributions to this be ordered from EDUCAUSE (http:// com) is a partner of PwC and a senior partner in PwC’s work of several PricewaterhouseCoopers col- or leagues: Deborah Furey and Dorothy Yu for Figure Center for Performance Improvement; Sandra L. Johnson 1; Michael Sousa for Tables 1 through 5; and Jossey-Bass, Inc. Publishers (http://www. ( is a director in the Richard Warrick for the section on new trends in knowledge management. education practice of PwC. Number 4 2000 • EDUCAUSE QUARTERLY 33