Knowledge sharing strategies in university libraries in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa.
Universities play an important role in knowledge creation, through research, and dissemination of findings. However, knowledge sharing among library staff in university libraries in Africa, generally, and South Africa in particular, is limited. The post-1994 merger of universities in South Africa brought about complex problems in the country’s higher education sector, resulting in the integration of staff with different skills and aptitudes from different universities. This study investigated knowledge sharing strategies in University Libraries in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. The study sought to address the following research questions: (1) What is the extent of knowledge sharing in University Libraries in KwaZulu-Natal Province? (2) What strategies are available for knowledge sharing among library staff in the university? (3) What is the attitude and perception of library staff towards knowledge sharing? (4) What factors affect knowledge sharing among library staff? The study was informed by the Knowledge Sharing Capability Model (KSC) complimented by the Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization (SECI) Model of knowledge creation, also known as the Knowledge Conversion Theory. The study was guided by Post-Positivism paradigm, using the quantitative and/or qualitative approach. A survey research design and a self-administered questionnaire were employed. Interviews, observations and document review were utilized to validate the results from the survey questionnaire. The universities studied were the Durban University of Technology (DUT), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) and University of Zululand (UNIZULU). The population of the study comprised all library staff (paraprofessional and professional) with a LIS qualification working in the public universities. A census was used as a sampling frame. The validity and reliability of the instruments were achieved using triangulation, adapting items in data collection tools from previous studies and pre-testing the questionnaire. Cronbach’s Alpha enhanced and determined the reliability of the survey data collection instrument. The data collected were analysed thematically and SPSS was used to generate frequencies, descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings of the study revealed that the knowledge that was generated and acquired was not subsequently shared; university libraries lacked knowledge management policies and strategies to harness staff expertise for enhanced service delivery. In addition, the organizational culture and organizational structure were not conducive for knowledge sharing. The findings revealed that organizational structure in university libraries is protocol based making it unfavourable for knowledge sharing. The results revealed that staff needed to be trained to engage meaningfully in knowledge management activities, including knowledge sharing. These findings are important to inform the development of a knowledge sharing policy, infrastructure development and capacity building strategies, to facilitate knowledge sharing and skills transfer for enhanced competitiveness. The study recommended formulation of strategies that would encourage knowledge sharing. The strategies should include rewards, new skills development and team work. The study makes proposals to extend KSC Model to accommodate diversity of knowledge sharing variables and to make it more robust in the context of universities in developing countries.