Knowledge Management Practices and Challenges in International Networked NGOs: The Case of One World International
Keywords:non governmental organisations, NGOs, networks, development, knowledge management, Zambia, Netherlands
AbstractThis paper is based on the outcomes of a study that explored the knowledge management practices and challenges in an international NGO network. The investigation constituted comparative case studies of two centres (one in Zambia and the other in the Netherlands) belonging to a single international network. An empirically grounded framework of knowledge management practices based on the taxonomy proposed by Holsapple and Joshi was utilised as the reference framework for the study. The framework provided guidelines to characterize factors that influence organizational knowledge management; knowledge manipulation activities (processes) and organizational knowledge resources. The results of the empirical study confirm that a variety of factors affect knowledge management behaviours in an organization. These factors include managerial and internal controls such as management styles and incentives for knowledge creation and sharing; resource influences; and environmental influences relating to an organization's culture and the needs of partner organizations. The study highlights important variation in diversity, gaps and perceptions in managing knowledge between centres in the network that are based in Europe and Africa. This is despite significant communality in knowledge management processes and infrastructures. The results further show that institutionalization of knowledge management practices within a network seem to enable or constrain knowledge management at centre and network level. Recommendations are proposed to improve knowledge management practices at local and international level and include enhanced technical and advisory services at international level; capacity building; creating greater awareness of knowledge management; decentralization of knowledge management processes; implementation of a knowledge management strategy at network level and improving relationships between centres. The authors conclude that networked NGO's and specifically OWI could operate more efficiently and incrementally enhance service provision by leveraging their knowledge resources more effectively. It is in this light that knowledge management practices should be examined in NGOs and particularly networks with their complex structures and attendant reoccurring and unavoidable problems.
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