Knowledge management as a strategic tool for human resource management : a study of selected higher educational institutions.
Govender, Loganathan Narayansamy.
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Although higher educational institutions the world over are beginning to recognize the importance of knowledge management, such institutions are still on the “very first steps of the long ladder” in addressing, evaluating and implementing the benefits of knowledge management with particular reference to the human resource management sector. Knowledge management is a viable means through which higher educational institutions could gainfully capitalize on its intellectual and social capital. Implementing knowledge management principles could bring about improved human resource efficiency and effectiveness and a resultant improved performance at higher educational institutions fostering a culture of excellence. Institutions of higher learning should therefore embrace knowledge management principles and practices in order to adequately address the challenges in a society that is becoming increasingly knowledge based. Relevant knowledge for human resource managers could be located at three different places. Individual knowledge is acquired through personal work experiences. Secondary knowledge could be attained through others insights, experiences and perceptions. Finally, much valued codified knowledge could be found in knowledge repositories. The realistic value of knowledge could be derived through the combination of all three approaches. Against this backdrop, this study explores knowledge management as a strategic tool for human resource management in higher educational institutions. Specifically, the dimensions such as organizational culture, organizational performance, technology, management support, and the institutions mission and vision will be evaluated to understand knowledge management within higher educational institutions. A questionnaire/survey was administered to a sample representing senior, middle and junior human resource managers at selected higher educational institutions in South Africa, Mauritius and India. In addition, a semi-structured interview was conducted with executive managers responsible for the human resource function in the higher educational institutions. The study investigated the impact of policies, systems and processes that the higher educational institutions implemented in support of knowledge management and knowledge sharing. A triangulated research approach was adopted through the administration of survey questionnaires amongst human resource managers, conducting semistructured interviews with executive managers, and a comprehensive literature review backed up with a review of the findings of similar studies. The outcomes of the study demonstrate that significant benefits could be derived by HEI’s in adopting an integrative approach between the human resource and knowledge management functions. The research results provide convincing arguments to support the integration of human resource management and knowledge management initiatives in HEI’s and affirms the assumption that these two disciplines are mutually inclusive. Whilst the HRM function at HEI’s have demonstrated that they have the capability and resources to implement knowledge management initiatives, the results reflect that much ground needs to be covered to realize the full benefits of this endeavour. The research culminates in providing important recommendations and guidelines, as well as the development of an integrated normative model on how human resource departments at higher educational institutions could embrace knowledge management as a strategic human resource management tool. The study confirms that an effective knowledge management strategy for human resource management that is aligned to the organizations’ strategic objectives is imperative in the 21st century organizational era, and more specifically for higher educational institutions in South Africa.
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