Knowledge Management Implementation

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Successful knowledge management implementation in global software companies Nikhil Mehta

Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop and evaluate a concise framework to examine how global software companies with successful knowledge management (KM) programs create KM-enabled value. Design/methodology/approach – The framework was evaluated at three global software companies with successful KM programs. Data were generated based on 20 interviews with various individuals involved with the KM programs of three companies. Interviews were content analyzed by four coders who sorted the data into meaningful categories. Inter-coder agreement was significant. Findings – The paper provides evidence of various strategic, technological, and cultural issues influencing the success of KM programs in global software firms. Firms with successful KM programs typically develop three specific capabilities to address these issues. These capabilities, namely, Articulating the KM Strategic Intent, Facilitating the Knowledge Flows to Enable Innovation, and Assessing KM Value, when developed simultaneously, help firms create KM-enabled value. Research limitations/implications – Interviews were limited to three companies in the software industry. Future interpretivist studies would benefit from a larger and more diverse sample. Practical implications – It is suggested that software firms develop specific capabilities to create KM-enabled value. To provide clear benchmarks for developing these capabilities, a ‘‘KM implementation worksheet’’ is provided. Originality/value – KM-enabled value creation is discussed from a unique perspective developed by integrating literature on knowledge-based view and knowledge management. The paper conducts initial evaluation of the new perspective and provides a roadmap for future research endeavors. Also provided is practical help in the form of a worksheet for practitioners. Keywords Knowledge management, Interviews, Companies Paper type Research paper

Nikhil Mehta is based at the School of Business and Industry, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.

Introduction
Global software companies possess diverse knowledge resources to develop complex software solutions (Malhotra and Majchrzak, 2004). These resources, such as know-how, skills, and abilities, are located in specialized pockets distributed geographically and temporally (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Software companies operating across global locations need to integrate their distributed knowledge resources to develop timely and workable solutions (Tiwana, 2003). Another challenge for global software companies is to create new knowledge. Software engineering is a rapidly evolving field (Rus and Lindvall, 2002), and companies have to continually adopt new technologies and practices. New knowledge is required to support this adoption (Mathiassen and Pourkomeylian, 2003). Additionally, with software applications finding new uses in diverse markets, companies need to develop new knowledge in various functional domains. Thus, there is an increasing realization among the software firms that as global software market changes, new technologies proliferate, and

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JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

j

VOL. 12 NO. 2 2008, pp. 42-56, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270

DOI 10.1108/13673270810859505

‘‘ Successful implementation of a KM program remains an elusive goal for many global software companies. ’’

competitors multiply, managing their knowledge resources will develop competitive advantage (Conner and Prahalad, 1996; Prusak, 1996). To face these challenges, software companies invest millions of dollars in their knowledge management (KM) programs. But, despite compounded increase in KM dollars spent, executives in these companies still face considerable difficulties in their KM efforts (Garvin, 1993). Theoretically, the objective of their KM programs is to better manage their existing knowledge...
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