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Knowledge Management (MNGT3002)

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Added on: 2022-08-20 00:00:00
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Question Task Id: 0

Section 1:

As Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) is an organisation that deals with a significant amount of knowledge in differing areas, there are examples of both explicit and tacit knowledge existing within the organisation. Explicit knowledge is the knowledge that is obtained through facts and information, almost always through formal education, and it is expressed through metaphors, analogies, concepts, hypotheses or models (Maravilhas Martins, 2019 pp. 354 & 355). The most obvious and significant occurrence of the concept of explicit knowledge in Tata Chemicals is the formulas and recipes required to create the chemicals TCL exports. Tacit knowledge is a little bit harder to define, but essentially it refers to knowledge that cannot be expressed or explained as easily and is obtained from hands-on experience, as opposed to explicit which can be taught in a classroom or other removed environment (2019). Within TCL, tacit knowledge is manifested in the particular ways that employees carry out tasks, having been trained by more senior employees, as well as strategies they themselves have devised from their time at TCL.

TCL set up a Knowledge Management (KM) team, with a coordinator in each department of the organisation, all of whom report to the head of the KM unit in an effort to create a cohesive way to share and spread information across departments so as to best utilize new and existing knowledge (Verma Dixit, 2016). The KM team aimed to share both explicit and tacit knowledge on an inter-department level. However, different approaches were required for each of the types of knowledge.

The organisation, through the KM team, set up a pair of IT portals designed to increase the spread of knowledge throughout the company, allowing employees to share with their peers their successes and failures so as to better the knowledge management and sharing in the organisation. By creating a platform that was easy to use and centralised, the KM team hoped to encourage knowledge sharing amongst employees across departments. The first of these portals was designed to allow for the spread of tacit knowledge, and was named Titli. This platform allowed for users to upload videos and voice messages of information that they wished to share, including the successes and failures they experienced, and is described by Verma Dixit as being an online knowledge sharing portal (p. 6). The other portal that was devised was called Gangotri, and was designed as a way to disseminate explicit knowledge. The portal is text based, and doesnt allow for the sharing of videos or voice messages. The primary intent behind Gangotri was to create a platform where users could cross-pollinate ideas, as well as share their experiences.

When it comes to the generation and adoption of new knowledge, TCL has its own process named the Process of Knowledge Validation.

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As can be seen in figure 1, knowledge validation is a step-by-step process that aims to ensure that new knowledge and strategies are properly vetted and refined before they are shared throughout the organisation. Verma Dixit notes that the process refers to both knowledges that is obtained from within the organisation and from outside sources. He explains that any new knowledge is assessed based on its likelihood of impacting company performance. Once knowledge has been captured, its validity is checked for accuracy, thereafter it enters the first refinement phase, where value is ascertained and extracted from the information available. Once this is completed, it is reviewed by the head of the relevant department and given a rating of 1-5. Based on the reviews, the information either moves on to the advance refinement or advance review stage. Once the knowledge is judged adequate to proceed, it is combined with knowledge held by other individuals in relevant departments so as to best extrapolate value, before it is shared with the rest of the organisation. This is a very in-depth process that aims to ensure that new knowledge entering the organisational day-to-day is valuable to the overall company goals.

TCL has established a reward system for employees who present new ideas and suggestions to the company as a way to encourage knowledge sharing and to increase the efficacy of KM within the organisation. The firm established a system to determine the effectiveness of these reward programs.

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The above table reveals that the reward and recognition systems within TCL have a significant and positive impact on organisational outcomes in the realm of knowledge management. This is cohesive with Zhang (2014), who found that both financial and non-financial incentives generally had a positive impact on the extent and efficacy of knowledge management systems. TCL has an extensive network of systems to both centralize and encourage knowledge management within the organisation to varying degrees of efficiency.

As Zhang's findings substantiate, the reward-based incentives program provides positive outcomes in the realm of knowledge management within the organisation.

Section 2.

Tata Chemicals has a very involved and innovative organisational culture when it comes to knowledge management, as seen through the numerous initiatives that the company has taken in order to improve the sharing of knowledge, as well as to encourage the creation and refinement of new ideas. Donate Sánchez de Pablo (2015) discusses the importance of having effective leadership and organisational culture in regard to knowledge management. They note that as there is no definitive way to successfully manage knowledge management/creation, effective KM is managed via an adaptive, dynamic approach that plays on the existing strengths of the organisation and encourages development in these areas. Tata Chemicals adheres to this doctrine, as the leadership of the company is consistently trying to foster knowledge sharing and creation by encouraging employees to grow in the areas they have already shown strengths in, as well as try to improve the areas of weakness.

One such area where the leadership of TCL saw that they needed to invest resources into knowledge management was on the shop floor, where much of the knowledge that was being shared was not being successfully captured due to issues such as low literacy and inadequate IT systems. To combat this, TCL established a listener system, wherein individuals who had higher literacy rates could meet with other employees and discuss work related knowledge, which could then be adapted in a way that becomes communicable to other employees. The initiative is an example of what Donate Sánchez de Pablo discuss in their research, as TCL allows the strengths of certain employees to improve the weaker areas of others in a dynamic and adaptive way.

Verma Dixit (2016) notes that TCL kept track of the successes in knowledge management that the firm experienced through their gathering and sharing of stories. These stories are designed to describe the issue that the firm faced, as well as the methods that were taken to improve upon or rectify the situation, and are a valuable tool for employees to share in order to demonstrate possible solutions. The stories are reviewed by various levels of leadership before they are shared so that as much value is extrapolated as possible from these stories. The goal of these stories is to facilitate faster knowledge transfer between employees, as well as to track the successes of the organisation from a knowledge-sharing point of view.

The IT systems that were established by TCL, Titli, K-Connect and Gangotri, are prime examples of effective leadership in the realm of knowledge management. Trkmenda? Tuna (2021) note that effective leadership in knowledge management allows freedom for new initiatives to take place based on the experience and prior knowledge of employees to address relevant issues. TCL demonstrates effective leadership by leaning on the existing and valuable knowledge within the organisation to try and spread further knowledge. The KM leadership group identified this as a valuable area to invest time and resources into, and this has proved to be a major facilitator for knowledge sharing. One of the key functions of the Titli portal is to facilitate the conversion of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. As Smith (2001) notes, tacit information is difficult to express in a way that allows it to become explicit knowledge, which is where the title comes in. The portal is designed to allow for users to upload videos of them working, which through analysis can allow other employees to transfer the tacit knowledge they see on display into explicit knowledge. Employees were then able to share this knowledge with others in the form of explicit knowledge via another portal the company uses, Gangotri.

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