Knowledge management strategies and practices in Nigerian agricultural research institutes.
This study was carried out to investigate knowledge management strategies and practices in Nigerian agricultural research institutes. Five institutes located in different geo-political zones of the country were studied namely: Institute for Agricultural Research, Zaria; Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Ibadan; National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike; National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi; and Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri. The Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) knowledge creation theory complemented by Boisot’s (1987) knowledge category model, Grant’s (1996) knowledge-based theory, Conner and Prahalad (1996) resource-based view, Sanchez’s (2001a) competence-based view, Ginsberg’s (1994) cognitive-frameworks theory, and Teece et al. (1997) capability perspective theoretical lenses underpinned the study. The study was underpinned by post-positivists paradigm, while mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative approaches) using survey questionnaire, interviews and documentary analysis were used for the collection of data. A survey questionnaire was administered on 276 research scientists, while a semi-structured interview was conducted with five directors and five heads of information and documentations of the institutes. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis, while quantitative data were analysed using SPSS version 20.0 to generate descriptive and inferential statistics for actualising the objectives of the study. Reliability and validity of the instruments was ascertained through test-retest reliability using Cronbach’s Alpha on 30 research scientists. The expected reliability stood at r=0.786, which is considered acceptable. The study adhered to the ethical protocol of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The findings show that the types of knowledge generated by the institutes included: genetic improvement of varieties of cereals, crops, roots, tubers and barley; wheat, rice, soybeans, sugarcane, beniseed, millet; crop production, breeding, weed control, value-addition techniques, fertility of soil and mechanisation; crop improvement and management practices; generation of agricultural technologies and management practices; pest management, agronomic practices and improved seeds; fish production and management practices. The study found that generations of explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge was high in the institutes. Besides, the explicit knowledge generation was enhanced by the constant documentation of research findings and research reports, seminars, workshops and conference papers; while tacit knowledge generation was facilitated by knowledge sharing through formal and informal engagements such as review meetings, cropping scheme meetings, community of practice, community of knowledge, knowledge networks and regular staff meetings. The study further found that personalisation strategy (human-based) was the dominant strategy used to derive research and innovations, compared to codification strategy (ICT-based). The study established that knowledge transmission to stakeholders such as farmers, Agricultural Development Partners (ADPs) and other governmental and non-governmental organisations was done largely via newsletters and bulletins, followed by personal contact with research scientists and extension agents. The study found that the following knowledge management systems were in place: document management systems (word processing and desktop databases); organisational practice and routines (group collaboration systems, discussion forums and work flows); training and knowledge intelligence, (community of knowledge, knowledge networks, knowledge culture, intelligent agents and rule-based personalization). The findings revealed lack of knowledge management policies, knowledge management strategic plans and position of knowledge manager in the institutes’ organogram. The study concluded that knowledge management practices in research institutes studied in Nigeria were influenced by knowledge creation, knowledge acquisition and generation, knowledge sharing and modes of knowledge dissemination. The study recommends an agricultural research impact assessment in the institutes in order to ascertain the contribution of the knowledge generated to the revival of the agricultural sector in Nigeria. Coordination, cooperation and collaboration among the farmers, research scientists, research institutes, Agricultural Development Partners (ADPs), and the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) should be enhanced by establishing a national agricultural research database/databank to facilitate access to agricultural research in the institutes. The research institutes should consider putting in place knowledge management policy for efficient management of knowledge resources. The originality of the study lies in its ability to investigate how concepts and variables from the Nonaka and another six theories/models played out in the Nigerian agricultural research vii institutes. The study demonstrated the usefulness of these theories and models in the context of Nigerian agricultural research institutes. The study contributes to policy, theory, practice and society. For example, the findings have the potential to influence the formulation of KM policies in the Nigerian agricultural research institutes. In addition the study has provides a deeper understanding of various phenomena pertaining to the KM in the agricultural sector which could serve as a basis for re-evaluation, re-strategising and re-focusing KM practices in the research institutes. The study contributes to the domain body of knowledge and literature, especially in the context of Nigeria. The study proposes a model for KM in agricultural research institutes, which builds upon the weaknesses of the Nonaka model, and other six models discussed in the thesis.