Public sector knowledge management in a knowledge economy : the case of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality.
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In the 21st century, which has been labelled the information age, knowledge is predominantly seen as one of the most, if not the most, important asset in organisations. Knowledge should therefore be managed carefully. However, knowledge management (KM) is a relatively new managerial practice, particularly in South Africa. Although there is evidence of KM being introduced and implemented in the South African public sector, there is scant empirical evidence of progress and benefits. This mixed method research design employed a case study strategy with eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality as the case and six municipal units/departments as units of analysis. The study is driven by a theoretical framework that encompasses KM constructs of codification strategy and personalisation strategy on the one hand with personal motivation and organizational structure as factors that affect knowledge transfer on the other hand. Probability and purposive sampling techniques were used to engage study respondents and ethical protocols were followed. Sources of evidence include surveys, interviews, observation and documentary evidence. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS and qualitative data through a combination of content, thematic and matrix analysis. The municipality is innovatively shifting from the rationalist conception of knowledge transfer as objective and universal to the post-rationalist approach (McFarlane 2006). The latter conceives knowledge and learning as partial, social, produced through practices, and both spatially and materially relational. Findings show that the municipality emphasises formal and informal social learning as an important medium for knowledge creation and sharing. However, KM in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is somewhat disjointed and not yet holistically embedded. Nevertheless, findings reveal statistically significant relationships between knowledge creation and sharing as dependent variables and organisational structure and characteristics as independent variables. Together, interaction of these and other variables demonstrate KM practices implemented in the municipality. Findings may be transferable to other similarly situated municipalities but not necessarily generalizable. Through triangulation of data, findings further shed light on KM and organisational structure opportunities of which municipalities can take advantage. Study results and recommendations contribute to the body of knowledge on public sector KM as both a managerial practice and an emerging academic discipline.