Dissertation submitted to Oxford Brookes University for the partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION.

April, 2010.



This dissertation is a product of my work and is the result of nothing done in collaboration. I consent to University‘s free use of the whole or any part of item of this Dissertation, to include online or electronic reproduction and adaptation for teaching and education activities. I agree that this dissertation may be available for reference and photocopying at the discretion of the University.


Word Length: 21,058 words.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I‘d like to thank my supervisor Dr. Hassall for the multiple reviews and the invaluable comments that he provided. He was always present to help me and in ensuring that I tried my best. I‘d also like to thank all the participants in the research for their time and thoughts. Finally, I‘d like to thank my wife for being so understanding and my family for providing me the encouragement and support while working on the dissertation.



Knowledge management as a discipline has met with varying levels of success and failure. Web 2.0 is a disruptive new concept. With its emphasis on sharing and collaboration and foundation on 'user generated content', it promises to promote a bottom-up culture of knowledge sharing.

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine if Web 2.0 is aiding in the process of Knowledge Management, from the perspective of India based organizations. India being a preferred IT outsourcing destination provides an interesting case study on the adoption of Knowledge Management. Being a recent entrant, Web 2.0 could help in better designing the Knowledge Management practices. The purpose of research is to address the question of whether using Web 2.0 concepts, tools and technologies is aiding in the Knowledge Management effort in the India-based IT organizations.

This findings of the dissertation is based on the survey conducted on 19 people across various organizational segments of India based IT organizations coupled with the viewpoints and experiences of two senior managers.


chapter……………………….………………………………………… Declaration…………………………………………...……………….…….. ii Acknowledgements.…………………………………………...……………iii Abstract…………………………………………...…………………….……iv Contents………………………...……………………………….…….……..v List of Tables……………………………………………………………….. ix List of Figures….………………………………...………………...……..….x


Introduction .................................................................................. 15


Literature Review ........................................................................ 18 Knowledge and ‗knowledge creating company‘ ................. 18



The Learning Organization .................................................. 21


Individual and organizational learning .......................... 23


Types of organizational learning .................................. 24


From Organization Learning to Knowledge

Management ................................................................................ 27


Knowledge Management ...................................................... 27


Structure, Culture & Technology in KM ...................... 28 v


Challenges with Knowledge Management .......................... 38


Collaboration, participation and Web 2.0 ........................... 42


What is Web 2.0? ......................................................... 42


Principles and Characteristics of Web 2.0 .................. 43


Organizational Structure & Culture and Web 2.0 ...... 46


Technology and Web 2.0 ............................................. 49


Current Usage of Web 2.0........................................... 52


Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management ....................... 57


Challenges with Web 2.0.............................................. 60


Web 2.0: Suggestions & Best Practices for usage ... 64


India – National Culture ...................................................... 68 India – Knowledge Management & Web 2.0 .................... 71



Research ..................................................................................... 76


Research Objectives ............................................................. 77


Research Methodology ......................................................... 78


Research Design .................................................................. 80 vi


Questionnaire Survey – Design & Rationale ................... 81 Semi-structured interviews – Design & Rationale ........... 87



Research Findings ...................................................................... 90 Web 2.0 and KM – Employees perspective ........................... 90



Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture .. 92


Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management ...... 96 Web 2.0 – Perception and Usage ............................ 102



Survey Summary .......................................................... 109


Web 2.0 and KM – Management Perspective................ 112 About KM – Current state and challenges ............... 112



Where does Web 2.0 fit in? ...................................... 116


Challenges in Web 2.0 adoption ............................... 118


Web 2.0 and unanticipated benefits .......................... 123


Summary of Interviews .................................................. 123


Putting it all together – a case study ............................. 126


Discussion ........................................................................... 134 vii


Best Practices based on Research ........................... 134


Web 2.0 based KM system - Implementation

framework .................................................................................. 138


Conclusions ............................................................................... 142


Research Limitations ................................................................. 145


Further Research ....................................................................... 146


References ................................................................................ 148


Appendix.................................................................................... 160


Semi-structured Interview Questionnaire ........................... 160


Questionnaire with summarized responses ......................... 162


LIST OF TABLES Table ……...………………………………………………………….. page

1 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS...................................................... 38

2 ISSUES WITH KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT ............................................. 41

3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND SURVEY QUESTIONS................................. 84

4 METHODOLOGY FOR QUESTIONNAIRE RESEARCH ................................. 85

5 QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSE SUMMARY ................................................. 91

6 W EB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES IN USE........................................................ 118

7 W EB 2.0 / KM PRODUCTS IN USE ...................................................... 122


LIST OF FIGURES Figure…..……………………………………………………………….page

1 SINGLE LOOP LEARNING .................................................................. 24


LOOP LEARNING .................................................................. 25


LOOP LEARNING.................................................................... 26

4 W EB 2.0 CHARACTERISTICS (SOURCE: O'RIELLY, 2007) ................. 44



.................................................. 46


TAG CLOUD ........................................................................ 51



2009) ............................. 52



2008) ........................ 53





2008) ...... 54



W EB 2.0




2008) .................................................................................... 55



W EB 2.0 (SOURCE: LEVY, 2009) ............................ 56

12 W EB 2.0





..................................................................................................... 57

13 W EB 2.0


KM (SOURCE: LEVY, 2008) .................................... 58 x



W EB 2.0


KM (SOURCE: LEVY, 2008) .......... 59

15 GARTNER HYPE CYCLE, (SOURCE: GARTNER, 2009)..................... 63

16 W EB 2.0 BEST PRACTICES ............................................................ 67




(SOURCE: BUDHWAR, 2001) ......................................................... 69

18 W EB 2.0




2009) ........................................................................................... 73

19 W HY QUESTIONNAIRE AND INTERVIEWS?............................................ 80

20 NON-PROBABILITY SAMPLING METHODS.............................................. 88


ORGANIZATION TYPE AND SIZE .................................. 91



IT ORGANIZATIONS .......................... 93


IN ORGANIZATIONS .............................................................. 94

24 W HAT

HOLDS ORGANIZATION TOGETHER?....................................... 95



BASIC KM .......................................................... 97


IN 'CAPTURING' KNOWLEDGE .................................. 99




TEAM ................. 100


TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE ............................................ 101




W EB 2.0? .................................... 103

TOOLS DO YOU USE? .................................... 104

31 W HY


W EB 2.0? ......................... 105

32 HOW


W EB 2.0

INTRODUCED? .................................................. 107

33 HOW


W EB 2.0

IMPACTED YOU? ........................................... 108



W EB 2.0................................................................ 109



W EB 2.0


KM ........................ 140





While beginning his seminal work, Nonaka (1991) had written, that ‗in an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge‘. Toffler (1980) identified knowledge as the most powerful component in his power triad along with wealth and force as the other components. The knowledge based economy, also referred as a ‗third wave economy‘ is built on information and knowledge, a resource that is infinite and doesn‘t get exhausted through usage (Toffler and Toffler, 2006).

When knowledge tends to become the source of competitive advantage, organizations need to manage it as a competitive resource. Authors like Senge (1992), Garvin (1993), Nonaka (1991) and others introduced the concepts of ‗knowledge management‘ and the ‗learning organization‘. Garvin argued that scholars at times explained these concepts as grandiose concepts with no clarity on how organizations should actually manage an intangible resource like knowledge. Knowledge management as a field evolved under the scholarly research based on works of authors like Davenport et al., (1998), O‘Dell and Grayson (1999), Bhat (2001) and met various degrees of success. Various knowledge management tools were introduced but, many 15

organizations did not achieve a great level of success (Levy, 2009). Some of the tools like Microsoft Sharepoint server, Content Management systems (CMS) have been used in organizations successfully. Some authors have proposed more advanced concepts like expert systems and artificial intelligence systems to model the complex artefact of knowledge (Liebowitz, 1998). However, these systems have proved to be moderately successful. O‘Rielly (2005) introduced a term called ‗Web 2.0‘ to describe a new form of participative culture on the internet. Web 2.0 tools were designed to leverage the collaborative nature of the users (Tapscott and Williams, 2006). Inherently, these tools were supposed to tap into the collective intelligence of the users or as Surowiecki (2004) termed it, the‗wisdom of the crowds‘. Websites that depend on user generated content like Wikipedia, the blogs and photo sharing sites like Flickr or social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace have proved that given an opportunity, users would like to contribute content and share their knowledge (Tapscott and Williams, 2006). Levy (2009) connected the field of Knowledge Management and the philosophy of Web 2.0 to question if there was a potential to use the Web 2.0 tools for knowledge management in organizations. She found a lot of similarities as well as a few gaps. Research by Economist 16

Intelligence Unit (EIU, 2007) and McKinsey Consulting (Bughin, et al., 2008 and Chui, et al., 2009) found that Web 2.0 tools were being used for knowledge management purpose but, there were still misconceptions and a lack of understanding in many organizations. (Chui, et al., 2009)

India has largely been unexplored with respect to the Knowledge Management efforts as well as the Web 2.0 initiatives. India has a substantial IT sector involved in IT solutions and services. (Ghosh and Ghosh, 2008) This sector would be facing similar issues in knowledge management as the western counter-parts involved in knowledge sector. However, many organizations that are embarking on the KM initiatives already have Web 2.0 and this could impact the design of the KM system.

The purpose of this research is to identify the usage and issues in Knowledge Management and the perception of Web 2.0 and to explore if the concepts and tools of Web 2.0 can aid in Knowledge Management. The Indian national culture is quite different from the US culture. As an employee associated with the IT and IT organizations in India, the author was curious to understand how Knowledge Management operates and how the new technology of Web 2.0 is being adopted. Being an insider provided some insight but, gaining a much bigger picture was the 17

primary motive for the choice of the research topic. In some organizations, the author had observed that internal blogs were becoming very prominent, and Wiki was being integrated into existing processes. These aspects resulted in an exploration to see if Web 2.0 was replacing the KM practises of it was just helping it.

The next section is a review of the existing work by various scholars, followed by the objectives of this research, the methodology and results from the research and a suggestion on future research.


This chapter examines the concepts of knowledge management, learning organization and the implementation issues associated with knowledge management. It is followed by an analysis of Web 2.0. Existing literature on these topics is critically evaluated to identify potential frameworks and models that would be useful for the research. Knowledge and ‘knowledge creating company’


Adams (2008, p190-191) describing the current times says that it an intersection between the industrial and knowledge economies. Whereas the former was a tangible economy 18

involving raw materials and products, the latter is an economy composed of intangibles like knowledge, ideas and services that can‘t be touched or seen. Explaining further, she says that knowledge is like oil – it can have stand-alone value (in the form of books, training, consulting, etc) or secondary value where knowledge is embedded in a product (savings achieved through an improved business process).

In his research at Japanese companies, Nonaka (1991) had opined that successful companies would be those that ‗consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization and quickly embody it in new technologies and products.‘ (p96) Stressing the importance of

knowledge, Peter Drucker had said that, ‗the collective knowledge residing in the minds of its employees, customers, suppliers etc., is the most vital resource of an organization growth, even more than the traditional factors of production (like land, labour and capital)‘. (Martin, 2006, cited in Jha and Joshi, 2007, p134) The Resource Based View (RBV) of organizations and the competencies perspectives too highlight this changing trend in the business strategy arena (Nelson and Winter, 1982 cited in Bhatt, 2001, p68). Many authors also contend that an organization‘s ability to learn faster than competitors is a significant source of competitive advantage (Stata, 1989; Senge, 1990; Ulrich et al., 19

1993; McGill and Slocum, 1993; Slocum et al. 1994; Nevis et al. 1995, cited in Lopez, et al. 2004) A new term ―knowledge-creating company‖ was coined by Nonaka (1991) to explain such companies whose sole purpose was continuous innovation. He segmented the knowledge as being ‗tacit‘ and ‗explicit‘. Explicit knowledge is that which can easily be communicated and shared. This is the knowledge that is known to the Western management which looks for ‗hard‘ and quantifiable data due to a formal and systematic way of working. (p98)

On the other hand, Japanese companies were seen to view knowledge as more than just ‗processing of objective information.‘ (p97) Creating knowledge was seen as tapping the ‗tacit‘ knowledge which is composed of highly subjective insights, intuitions and hunches of individual employees and exposing these insights to the company for further testing and usage. Tacit knowledge being highly subjective is difficult to formalize and hard to communicate. (p98)

Regardless of knowledge being explicit or tacit, new knowledge always begins with an individual. The job and the biggest challenge for a ‗knowledge-creating company‘ is to ensure


that this personal knowledge, both tacit and explicit, is available to the company. (Nonaka, 1991 p98; Suroweicki, 2004)


The Learning Organization

It has been noted that although organizations recognize the importance of the explicit and tacit knowledge transfer, very few organizations are able to handle the knowledge effectively. (Singh, 2008; Foos, et al., 2006) Singh (2008) argues that ‗learning organizations‘ are better suited to handle the knowledge transfer. Garvin (1993) had defined a learning organization as ‗an organization skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights. (p80)‘. Elaborating this concept, he further clarified that such learning organizations are good at following 5 things:

systematic problem solving experimentation with new approaches learning from their own experience learning from the experience and best practices of others transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organization 21

Garvin‘s main contribution was the idea that companies can actively manage the learning process so that it occurs by ‗design rather than by chance‘ (1991) and specific policies and practices can shape the up the learning process. Three factors form the building block of such a learning organization (Garvin, et al., 2008, p110; Jha & Joshi, 2007, p136): a. supportive learning environment – an open environment where differences are valued, mistakes are not ridiculed, innovativeness is encouraged and time is set aside for reflection to review existing processes b. concrete learning processes and practices that covers the entire gamut of generation, collection, interpretation and dissemination of information. c. leadership behaviour that reinforces learning – leaders who actively question and listen to employees, prompting a debate and dialogue and encouraging employees to learn. They espouse, drive and role-model on the importance of continuous learning.

Senge (1992) had offered a different viewpoint from the point of an individual. He had defined a learning organization as ‗a group of people continuously enhancing their capacity to create what they want to create‘. A learning organization, is characterized by ‗systems thinking‘ or ‗the fifth discipline‘. This 22

discipline is acquired through the mastery of ‗shared values‘, ‗personal mastery‘, ‗mental models‘ and ‗team learning‘. This system talks about profound knowledge that is universal to all businesses, which once understood would be applied by an individual in her daily relationships and thus enable better decisions for organizational transformation (Jha & Joshi, 2007, p136). Murthy (2009) described a similar concept called ‗learnability‘ which is the ‗ability to extract generic inferences from specific instances and to use them in new, unstructured situations.‘ (p233)

2.2.1 Individual and organizational learning

New knowledge, it has been observed, always begins with an individual (Nonaka, 1991). However, this knowledge is different from the knowledge held by a group of individuals. (Jha & Joshi, 2007). According to Mark (2000), individual learning leads to individual knowledge while organizational learning leads to collective knowledge. Conflict between the two is bound to occur and it acts as a stimulant for innovation and creativity. Bhatt (2000a) had observed that ‗organizational knowledge is not a simple sum of the individual knowledge‘ but, it is formed through unique patterns of interactions between technologies, techniques, and people. Organizational knowledge cannot be easily imitated


by other organizations, as the unique interactions are shaped by the every organization's unique history and culture.

Organization learning can occur at multiple levels, as explained below.

2.2.2 Types of organizational learning

Three different types of organizational learning have been identified by various researchers– the single loop, double loop and deutro-loop learning (Argyris and Schön, 1974; Flood and Romm, 1996; Snell and ManKuen Chak, 1998 cited in Georges & Witteloostuijn, 1999).

Single loop learning occurs when simple corrective actions are taken to solve a problem. In this mode of learning, organization‘s knowledge base is enhanced but results in no change to existing processes and policies.

Figure 1 Single Loop Learning

Double loop learning occurs when an ‗error is detected and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an 24

organization's underlying norms, policies and objectives‘. (Argyris and Schön, 1978, p. 3) Double loop learning is a transformation process. In this, the knowledge base and competency base changes are accompanied by a change in problem definition, policies, objectives and mental maps (Snell and Man-Kuen Chak, 1998). Argyris and Schön (1996) argue that double loop learning is necessary if decisions are to be made in rapidly changing and uncertain environment.

Figure 2 Double loop learning

However, most organizations find it difficult to learn in a double loop manner. (Argyris, 1996). Hence, a deuteron-learning (Bateson, 1973) or a triple loop learning (Flood and Romm, 1996; Snell and Man-Kuen Chak, 1998) was proposed that focuses on structures and strategies. In this mode of learning, local learning units are linked together in one overall learning infrastructure as well as ensuring development of competencies to use this infrastructure. This mode manifests itself in the ―collective mindfulness‖, where members discover how they and their predecessors have facilitated or inhibited learning and 25

produce new structures and strategies for learning. (Georges & Witteloostuijn, 1999)

Figure 3 Triple loop learning

A learning organization has to operate at double-loop or deuteron-loop learning mode. Without the step of ‗thinking‘ or ‗reflecting‘, learning from past mistakes or learning from others‘ mistake cannot occur. This is exemplified by a quote Murthy (2009), the founder of Infosys Technologies. Speaking about building a successful organization, he writes: As long as you constantly ask the questions, ‗Can we do things faster today than yesterday, last month, last quarter and last year?‘, ‗Can we bring better ideas to the table today than yesterday, last month, last quarter and last year?‘, ‗Can we execute those ideas with a better level of excellence and quality today than yesterday, last month, last quarter and last year?‘, I believe you will create a learning organization and will succeed on a sustainable basis. I strongly believe that


these attributes are extremely important for the enduring success of a corporation.

2.2.3 From Organization Learning to Knowledge Management

From above discussion it is evident that learning organizations generate new knowledge. Knowledge Management is the discipline that ‗takes the output from Learning Organization, manages it and ensures that a proper environment to facilitate knowledge transfer and sharing‘ (Jha & Joshi, p138). The sharing creates both individual and organizational knowledge.


Knowledge Management

An exact definition of knowledge management is difficult as it has been studied in various disciplines.(Lopez, et al., 2004, p93) Davenport et al. (1998) define knowledge management as a process of ‗collection, distribution and efficient use of knowledge resource‘. It is also seen as a strategy to be developed in a firm ‗to ensure that knowledge reaches the right people at the right time, and that those people share and use the information to improve the organization‘s functioning.‘ (O‘Dell and Grayson, 1998, cited in Lopez, et al., 2004) A third view is that knowledge management is ‗a set of procedures, infrastructures, technical and managerial tools, designed towards creating, sharing and 27

leveraging information and knowledge within and around organizations‘ (Bounfour, 2003). Chait (1998) had described the knowledge management process to include capturing, evaluating, cleansing, storing, providing and using of the knowledge

The consensus amongst the different definitions though is that knowledge management is a process that facilitates knowledge exchange and sharing, and establishes continuous learning within organizations. (Lopez, et al. 2004)

2.3.1 Structure, Culture & Technology in KM Knowledge management in an organization has three aspects to it – the structure of organization, the organizational culture and technology (Bhat, 2001; Lopez, et al. 2004; Ellonen, et al., 2009). Jha and Joshi (2008) and Payne (2008) described the foundation of KM as people, process and technology. The three pillars and the interaction between them is depicted in figure 4.


Figure 4 Components of KM Role of Culture in KM & Organizational Learning

Schein (1985) has defined Organizational culture as a model of ‗basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously, and that define an organization's view of itself and its environment‘ (cited in Lopez, et al., 2004). DeLong and Fahey (2000) have identified four ways in which culture influence in creating, sharing and use of knowledge. According to Delong and Fahey (2000), culture:

1. shapes assumption about what is knowledge and what is worth sharing.


2. defines relationship between individual and organizational knowledge; this determines who is expected to control, share and hoard the knowledge 3. creates the context for social interaction which determines how knowledge is used in particular situation 4. shapes the process by which new knowledge can be created, legitimated and distributed.

From the works of various authors, following values have been considered important in an organizational culture that promotes organizational:

a long term vision and advance management of change; communication and dialogue; trust and respect for all individuals; teamwork; empowerment; ambiguity tolerance; risk assumption; respect and diversity encouragement. (Nevis et al., 1995; Elkjaer, 1998; Von Krogh, 1998; Ruggles, 1998; Liedtka 1999; Senge, et al., 1999; De Long and Fahey,


2000; Gupta et al., 2000; Sveiby and Simons, 2002, cited in Lopez, et al. 2004)

Lopez et al. (2004), described a culture with the above features as a ‗collaborative culture‘ and found through empirical research that such cultures promote organization learning.

Ellonen, et al. (2008) found that a key component in fostering a knowledge sharing culture and innovation is trust (p164) Trust of the organization‘s leadership was found to greater contribution of ideas from employees. Trust amongst individuals was associated with more open learning and sharing of knowledge. Suroweicki (2004) bluntly put it saying, ‗in the absence of trust the purist of myopic self interest is the only strategy that makes sense.‘(137)

Organizational culture as a subject is very vast topic. For the purpose of this research, the role of organizational culture is closely tied to just two aspects – a culture of sharing (collaborative culture) and the level of trust. The other aspects of culture and an exhaustive study of different types of culture within the Indian organizations is not in scope of this piece of work.

31 Knowledge Management Process

In his definition, Bhatt (2000b) refers to knowledge management as a process of ‗creation, validation, presentation, distribution and application‘. (p71) According to him, knowledge management can be broken down into a 5 step process as shown in figure below. These are the steps in knowledge management, from an organization‘s perspective.

Figure 5 Knowledge Management Activities

Knowledge Creation: This refers to the ability of an organization to create novel and useful ideas (Marakas, 1999, p. 440) (p71) This is an emergent process where ‗motivation, inspiration, experimentation and pure chance‘ play a role (Lynn, et al. 1995) This step is closely related


to ‗experimentation‘ by a learning organization. (Garvin, 1993) Knowledge Validation: This is the organization‘s ability to reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge for the existing organizational environment. Identifying and reconfiguring obsolete knowledge is extremely important since core-competencies, even though not easily imitated can get obsolete (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995) Knowledge Formatting: This refers to the different ways knowledge can be presented, so that it is suitable to the different ‗work-styles‘ of the people. Knowledge Distribution: Unless knowledge is distributed and shared, it cannot be exploited by the organizational members. Knowledge transferred through a supervised and predetermined channel will minimize interaction and questioning of the validity of knowledge. Horizontal structure can speed up knowledge transfer and interaction. Knowledge Application: Knowledge needs to be applied in its products, processes and services to create value.

Nonaka (1991) described a similar process from the view of an individual. He termed it as the ‗knowledge creation cycle‘ (Figure 6). This process examined an individual‘s knowledge


transfer process based on the tacit and explicit knowledge paradigm. Socialization: Essentially a transfer of tacit knowledge from one individual to another. This knowledge is not shared to the organization as a whole and cannot be leveraged easily. However, this can aid in the knowledge creation and validation steps of KM as defined by Bhat (2001).

Figure 6 The Knowledge Spiral (Abdullah, et al., 2006)

Articulation: It is a process of converting tacit to explicit knowledge. By doing so, knowledge is available to the organization as a whole. This process closely resembles the distribution process for an organization (Bhat, 2001). Synthesis / Combination: In this mode, explicit knowledge is combined with other explicit knowledge to gain better


understanding through different formatting and presentation mechanism of the already existing knowledge. Internalization: In this process, individuals digest the existing explicit knowledge and reframe their tacit knowledge for their application.

Articulation and internalization requires the active involvement and commitment of an individual (Nonaka, 1991, p99) Socialization requires a platform where individuals can meet and discuss and synthesis requires tools that can aid in quickly reformatting the existing knowledge. Technology in Knowledge Management

Bhat (2001) had defined the technological requirement saying it is any IT that ‗enables the searching, storing, manipulating, and sharing of a huge amount of information per unit of time, by minimizing the limitations of time and space‘.

Various authors have written about the technology necessary for Knowledge Management. It varies from being very generic like emails to shared storage, to extremely specific like data warehousing. (Junnarkar & Brown 1997; Offsey 1997; Liebowitz 1998; Borghoff & Pareschi 1998; Dieng et al. 1999; Alavi & Leidner 1999; Hendriks & Vriens 1999; Earl 2001; Alavi & 35

Leidner 2001; cited in Edwards, et al., 2005) A few authors like Liebowitz propose the usage of expert systems. However, knowledge based systems and expert systems have largely fallen out of favor due to lack of understanding and complexity. (Adbullah, et al., 2006)

Other researchers have classified the technology as communication technologies and storage technologies (Alavi and Tiwana 2002; Malhotra and Majchrzak 2005, cited in Leonardi

and Bailey, 2008), based on the usage. Phones, chat rooms, email and other communication technologies serve as conduits for serving messages containing knowledge and information. Storage technologies include knowledge management systems and versioning control systems and they permit storage, retrieval and sharing of explicitly codified knowledge and information. Information is retrieved using search tools that work on the technology of keyword indexing (McKnight, 2005 cited in Dursun and Suleiman, 2009 p141). Table 1 below lists some of the

tools that have been identified by researchers for Knowledge Management.

According to the research by Edwards et al.(2005), there is no fixed technology that can be used as a Knowledge management tool in an organization. Rather, the final solution


depends on how each of the following tensions is resolved (p124) 1. Between the quantity and quality of information/knowledge. 2. Between centralized and decentralized organization. 3. Between head office and organizational knowledge. 4. Between ‗‗push‘‘ and ‗‗pull‘‘ methodology.


TABLE 1 Knowledge Management Tools

. AI Based Code based reasoning Data mining Expert systems Genetic algorithms Intelligent agents Knowledge based systems Multi agent systems Neural Networks "Push" technology

Conventional Bulletin boards Computer-supported co-operative work Databases Data warehousing Decision support systems Discussion forums Document Management Electronic Publishing E-Mail Executive information systems Groupware Information retrieval Intranets Multimedia/hypermedia Natural language processing People finder/ "Yellow pages" Search engines Workflow management


Challenges with Knowledge Management

Although Knowledge Management has been acknowledged as being important for sustained competitive advantage, it has been found hard to implement successfully. There are various reasons for this failure.

On the structural front, management has been found to pay a lot of attention towards technological aspects rather than the social and cultural aspects of KM (Cross & Barid, 1999 cited in Lopez et al., 2004) Knowledge has been subjected to the 38

traditional cost/benefit analysis. In many organizations, especially small and medium enterprises, management is not ready to invest in higher value-longer term project associated with knowledge management (Nunes, et al., 2006 & Wickert & Herschel, 2001).

Bhat (2001) stresses the fact that IT can only act as an enabler and it is only through people and their interactions that information is turned into knowledge and learning occurs (p73)

De Long and Fahey (2000) stress, that trust is the most important aspect needed for effective knowledge management. The level of trust in an organization impacts the flow of knowledge ‗between individuals and from individuals into the firm's databases, best practices archives and other records‘. Lack of trust leads to a resistance of sharing – and this lack of sharing is found as the hardest cultural barrier in effective sharing of knowledge (Ruggles, 1998).

Centralization is identified as another barrier for effective knowledge management. Levy (2009) says that in traditional knowledge management paradigm, a central team encourages people to add content and in some cases users are only allowed to use existing knowledge. Sharing is controlled and content is moderated through the central group. Not all users are thus able 39

to contribute to the knowledge management activity. This leads to a ‗top-down‘ or a centralized management of the knowledge management activity. A culture lacking trust, coupled with a centralized structure prevents effective sharing.

Technologically, knowledge management has faced a lot of hurdles. Primary amongst them is the cost and complexity. (Spanbauer, 2006) A second issue has been the way the KM systems are designed. Despite the increasing role of end-users, the specifications for most KM systems are provided in a topdown manner through managers who are far removed from the day-to-day interactions. This mode of development has been proven faulty in the Information Systems development (Haad et al., 2004,cited in Patrick and Dotsika, 2007). Researchers have also found that information stored is often decontextualized. Due to the removal of the context, new users who try to use the knowledge are hampered. (Leonardi and Bailey, 2008)

The final issue is the difficulty to encode tacit knowledge. Since this knowledge is inherently hard to formalize, communicating such knowledge is very difficult. According to Clark and Rollo (2001), 42% of corporate knowledge is held in employees‘ minds (cited in Singh 2008). Tebbutt (2007) advising on a better knowledge management system writes


―forcing people to encode their knowledge formally is not easy – in fact, it can‘t be done. But when people are socializing, even in a work context, they are much happier to share their thoughts and their experiences… there‘s this hint of loosening the reins of corporate or IT control and allowing systems to be focused more to human needs. After all, it‘s in the humans that the knowledge resides and between them where it adds value to the organization‘‘ (cited in Levy, 2009, p132).

The above issues are summarized in table below:
TABLE 2 Issues with Knowledge Management




Excessive focus on technology but, less focus on social aspects of knowledge management Small companies don‘t want look at long-term and don‘t want to invest in additional cost Transaction based cost structures that fails to identify ROI on knowledge management initiatives Lack of trust to share knowledge Fear of loss of management controls Resistance to share Lack of a collaborative environment Sophisticated and costly products Specifications and requirements set in a top-down manner Knowledge is often decontextualized – individuals using the knowledge can‘t apply correctly Inability in encoding tacit knowledge

In the past few years, managers and users have grown skeptical on the knowledge management initiatives and are on the lookout for KM system that‘s "actually being used" (Spenbaur, 2008). 41


Collaboration, participation and Web 2.0

In the last few years, the economy has been observed to move towards a more participative medium. Instead of clear demarcation consumers and producers, a new set of users called prosumers or co-creators have been introduced. Such users actively participate in the creation, use and improvement of a product. (Toffler, 1980; Prahalad and Ramasamy 2004). A new term called ‗Web 2.0‘ was introduced to explain the new paradigm in technology. Several authors have publicized the concepts of collaboration and ‗wisdom of crowds‘ when trying to explain the success of phenomena like Open Source movement. (Sureoweicki, 2004; Tapscott and Williams, 2006; Spenbaur 2006) Following is an analysis of the modern changes in the view of various scholars and how it could impact knowledge management.

2.5.1 What is Web 2.0?

Although the term Web 2.0 is very prevalent, it does not have a fixed definition. O‘Rielly has explains it as, ‗the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform‘ (Musser and O‘Reilly, 2006). Boutin (2006) observed that Web 2.0 is a term that currently encompasses ‗a mishmash of tools and sites that foster collaboration and 42

participation‘. Weinberger (2007) defines it as an establishment of ‗open architecture, lowering the barriers to publishing, the ease with which people can connect ideas, the increase in available bandwidth and computing power‘. Levy (2009) observed that while Weinberger spoke of Web 2.0 as an evolution, O‘Reilly spoke of it as a revolution in computing.

2.5.2 Principles and Characteristics of Web 2.0 Rather than defining Web 2.0, O‘Rielly has described the principles of Web 2.0 that would explain the concept. They are summarized in the figure 4. The main principles of Web 2.0 are:

a. Web as a platform: Web is not an application by itself but, it should be treated as a platform. b. Services development: Innovation is in assembly of services. Each service by itself may not be very innovative but a combination of services produces interesting innovations. For example, Google introduced the Map services. Combining Google Maps with Wikipedia produced the Placeopedia (Boutin, 2006). c. Active participation of users: Levy (2009) explains that until recently, in the Web and in KM paradigm, content managers and experts were involved in creating, organizing and collecting content while users mainly used it. In Web 43

2.0 paradigm, users contribute and add value to the content. Patrick and Dotsika (2007) term this as the ‗pull‘ model where users active seek information rather then the prevalent ‗push‘ model which is broadcasting of information.

Figure 4 Web 2.0 Characteristics (Source: O'Rielly, 2007)

Three different types of user activities lead to value add depending on the level of collaboration. Collaboration itself has been defined as ―individuals and companies employing widely distributed computing and communication technologies to achieve shared outcomes through loose voluntary associations‖ (Tapscott and Williams, 2007; p17) Sobolak (2007) cited in Levy 2009) identified 3 types of users: 44

a. Passive users – Such users just use a service. However, their activities and history is used to provide value. For example, Amazon purchase suggestions. b. Minimally active users – Such users generate content, probably in response to other content or, they may be producing the content primarily by themselves. There is not much collaboration and back-and-forth data. Example: tags and blogs c. Active (collaboration) – Such users work together over the net adding collaborative value. Example: Wikipedia, Open Source Software.

The collaboration propounded by Web 2.0 enthusiasts is to tap the ‗collective intelligence‘ (Levy, 2009). Tapscott and Williams (2007) define ‗collective intelligence‘ as ‗the aggregate knowledge that emerges from the decentralized choices and judgments of groups of independent participants‘ (p41). An outcome of the collaboration is ‗emergence‘ which is the ‗the creation of attributes, structures and capabilities that are not inherent to any single node in the network‘ (p44). Elucidating the definition, Tapscott and Williams point out that the emergence coupled with web based tools is producing relative complex artifacts like open source software. This has led to a new realization that power of


such self-organization can be tapped, especially in the areas of innovation and knowledge management. (p45)

Figure 5 New realization on emergence

2.5.3 Organizational Structure & Culture and Web 2.0

Payne (2008) believes that an organization can only influence the knowledge creation and sharing by creating an environment that will encourage collaboration. This can be done though an environment of trust, self-management, behavioral protocols, shared intent and equitable sharing of returns (p6). She identified that even traditional organizations can benefit from new social software. She found that the extent of bureaucracy in an organization does not itself lead to positive or negative effect on collaboration. Instead of a ‗coercive bureaucracy‘ where managers try to command and control reluctant employees was found to hamper the collaboration. On the other hand, an ‗enabling bureaucracy‘ was found to help in better sharing and innovation.


According to other authors, decentralization has been is as an important aspect for an effective collaboration. Sureoweicki (2004) explains that ‗if you set a crowd of self-interested people to work in a decentralized way on the same problem, instead of trying to direct their efforts from the top down, their collective solution is likely to be better than any other solution you could come up with‘. (87) Decentralization promotes individuals to specialize and yet collaborate. It empowers an individual closest to the problem to find a solution. But, decentralization‘s weakness is information learnt may never be disseminated. For this purpose, an aggregation of individual knowledge into a collective whole is necessary. Paradoxically, aggregation, a form of centralization is necessary for the decentralization to succeed. (p89-93).

Tapscott and Williams (2006) suggest that a culture meritocracy helps in collaboration. Such meritocracy works on the self-organizing power of the community to provide a hierarchy of more experienced members. The experienced member provides leadership as well as works on aggregating the contributions. For example, Linus Trovalds provides the leadership to the kernel development of the Linux operating system. Such an arrangement, according to the authors works by assigning the right person to the right task:


―When people voluntarily self-select for creative, knowledge intensive tasks they are more likely than managers to choose tasks for which they are uniquely qualified. Who, after all, is more likely to know the full range of tasks you are best qualified to perform you or your manager? (Pg- 68)‖

Chui, et al. (2009) found that the new collaboration tools have a ‗strong bottom-up element and engage a broad base of workers‘. It also demands ‗a mind-set different from that of earlier IT programs, which were instituted primarily by edicts from senior managers. (p1)‘ However, the transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help the senior executives who can act as role models. (p5)

The challenges to culture required for a successful Web 2.0 program has been found to be similar to the challenges faced in Knowledge management. They are (a) need for trust, (b) generating interest and (c) a sense of partnership where contributions are justly rewarded. (Levy, 2009, p132). However, since Web 2.0 acts as a platform, to encourage users to participate, organizations will need to appeal the participants‘ egos and needs, rather than just monetary benefits. This can be achieved by appealing to the participant‘s desire for recognition by ‗bolstering the reputation of participants in relevant


communities, rewarding enthusiasm, or acknowledging the quality and usefulness of contributions‘ (Chui et al., 2009; p6).

In summary, although decentralization and a collaborative culture is stressed in the Web 2.0 literature, a form of selforganized hierarchy based on meritocracy has been found to succeed. To kick start such a self-sustaining effort, management can select early leaders who generally are ‗enthusiastic early technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will thus share knowledge and exchange ideas‘ (Chui et al., 2009)

2.5.4 Technology and Web 2.0 Web 2.0 in essence is harnessing the ‗network effect‘. (EIU, 2007) Any tool that can harness this effect is defined to fall under the Web 2.0 paradigm. Tools that fall under the Web 2.0 paradigm are Blogs, Wikis, RSS, Podcasts, Web Services, Social Networking, Peer-to-peer and Mashups (Bughin, et al., 2008; Levy, 2009).

Blog or weblog is defined an online journal that can be updated regularly with entries typically displayed in chronological order. (Wyld, 2008; p452) Blog is one of the most widely used

technologies due to the ease of creation and updation of content on online websites. (Bughin, et al., 2008) Weil (2004) calls blogs as an ―easy-to-use content management tool‖. Blog is a 49

mechanism where the traditional role of a content creator and content consumer is blurred (Blood, 2004). Wiki has been defined as a ‗structured website, i.e. collection of pages sharing the same structure using templates‘. Users participate in the creating, and editing of content as well as influencing the structure of the templates. Such templates guide the way users write the content and are much simpler to use than the traditional Content Management Systems (Levy, 2009). According to Wyld (2008), using the wiki model, if should be possible to produce content, goods and services through joining together of individuals located outside of traditional hierarchies by forming ‗permanent, temporary or one-time collaboration‘. (p475) Tagging or ‗collaborative tagging‘ is ‗a practice whereby users assign uncontrolled keywords to information resources‘. (Levy, 2009) Usage of such tags allows users to classify the content based on individual use. Sharing of the tags aids in indexing and search by other users as well, apart from subsequent tagging by popularity of tags. Popularity of tags is determined by the frequency of use, generally depicted as a tag cloud. (Figure 6). According to the website ―What is RSS?‖, ‗Rich Site Summary‘ or ‗Really Simple Syndication‘ (RSS) is defined as ‗a format for delivering regularly changing web content‘ ( 2009a). 50

Generally used by news site and weblogs, it provides an easy way to ‗stay informed‘ and ‗save time‘ by automatically retrieving the content without users having to visit each of the sites. RSS is built on frameworks of ‗eXtensible Markup Language‘ (XML). (Abdullah, et al., 2006)

Figure 6 Typical tag cloud

Social networking refers to the applications ‗that are targeted to enabling the creation and enlargement‘ of a user‘s social network. Users of such application first join in and then invite their friends or colleagues to join. Each new member in turn continues the cycle. (Levy, 2009).

Collective estimation refers to the ability to aggregate the opinions which could help in idea generation or identifying trends on general interest (Chiu, et al., 2009) Websites like Digg and Techcrunch are examples of such Web 2.0 websites.


Social graphing refers to the leveraging of connection between people which could be used to offer new application or products. (Chiu, et al., 2009) For example, LinkedIn identifies people that one may know based on the existing links of two different people. The tools and their use is summarized in the figure 7 below.

Figure 7 Web 2.0 Tools (Source: Chui, et al., 2009)

2.5.5 Current Usage of Web 2.0

According to an Economist survey, most of the multinationals have begun to see Web 2.0 technologies as corporate tools. 31% of the respondents felt that using web as a platform for sharing and collaboration would affect all parts of their business. (EIU, 2007, p1)

Companies have now moved from the initial experimentation phase to an adoption of the tools for business purpose. Satisfied companies have even started to leverage 52

the Web 2.0 tools in change management and organizational structures. Web 2.0 tools were found to be used more for internal purposes than for the external, supplier/customer facing applications. (Bughin, et al., 2008) Contradicting this was a survey by Economist (EIU, 2007) where 68% felt that Web 2.0 would impact the way they interacted with the customers as against 48% who felt it would impact they way they interacted with internal employees.

Figure 8 Web 2.0 Usage (Source: Bughin, et al., 2008)

Two primary uses of the Web 2.0 technologies were in management of knowledge and for fostering a collaborative environment. (Figure 9). Blogs, RSS, Wikis and Podcasts were the most commonly used tools. (Figure 10)


Figure 9 Internal use for Web 2.0 (Source: Bughin, et al., 2008)

Showing a similar pattern, a survey by Association of Information and Image Management (AAIM, 2008), found that the primary use of Web 2.0 was ‗to increase collaboration‘ followed by ‗knowledge management‘.

To stress the importance of such tools, a new term called Enterprise 2.0 has been defined. It is the use of ‗emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers‘ (AIIM, 2008).


Figure 10 Usage pattern of Web 2.0 technologies (Source: Bughin, et al., 2008) Classification of usage of Web 2.0 as a platform

To help organizations in understanding and using Web 2.0 technologies, Levy (2009) developed a grid model based on the technology adoption and user orientation. Technology adoption could be adoption of: 1. Web 2.0 software infrastructure – using web services, etc. 2. Web 2.0 applications – Wikis, blogs, tagging, etc.

Using the Web 2.0 applications with an internal focus (the top-left quadrant of grid) was found as a right fit for knowledge management initiatives.


Figure 11 Adoption of Web 2.0 (Source: Levy, 2009)

Chui, et al., (2009) on the other hand classified the Web 2.0 technology based on the commonality of purpose. They are: (a) Broad collaboration such as Wikis, Blogs; (b) Metadata creation through tagging; (c) Social graphing via social networking tools; (d) Collective estimation in the form of polls and online surveys. While the first model is more of a descriptive framework, the second model is both descriptive as well as prescriptive. Using the second model, organizations new to Web 2.0 can start the initiative via the use of appropriate tools. The main technological attraction of Web 2.0 applications, according to this survey is that they are ‗a relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and do not necessarily require complex technology integration.‘ (p2)


Figure 12 Web 2.0 deployment and usage (Source: Chui, et al., 2009)

2.5.6 Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management

According to Levy (2009), the roots of many Web 2.0 tools were derived from Knowledge Management tools. The two have similar principles (summarized in figure 13). Elucidating on the specific usage of Web 2.0 tools for KM, various authors have highlighted the KM aspects of the Web 2.0 usage. For example:

1. Adams (2008) citing Burns (2005) and Li (2004) says that blogs are being used for internal communication and collaboration, along with wikis as engaging method of KM. Anderson (2004) speaks of the ‗long tail‘ trend in blogs where it enables communication with micro-audiences. The


movement of communication from emails to blogs also makes it easily searchable medium (Adams, 2009; p467). 2. Intel has successfully created an internal learning initiative called Intelpedia to ‗to share knowledge, collaborate with employees and post need-to-know company information in a safe, behind-the-firewall space‘ Meoster (2008) EIU (2007, p6) has a story on the use of Wiki for KM in Citibank.

Figure 13 Web 2.0 and KM (Source: Levy, 2008)


Despite the many similarities, there are a lot of gaps between the concepts of Knowledge Management and Web 2.0. They are summarized in figure 14 below. These gaps are also closely tied with the issues faced in embracing the Web 2.0 solutions, described in the next section.

Figure 14 Gaps between Web 2.0 and KM (Source: Levy, 2008)


2.5.7 Challenges with Web 2.0

Despite the potential of Web 2.0, it faces a lot of challenges. Primary amongst them is awareness. According to EIU (2007, p8), ‗many in the corporate world have never heard of Web 2.0‘ and amongst those who have heard, plenty of them ‗do not know what it means‘. In a survey by AIIM (2008), 74% of the respondents claimed only a vague familiarity with web 2.0, while 41% did not have a clear understanding. The second issue was companies getting ‗caught up in trappings of Web 2.0 tools and lose sight of what the tools are meant to build‘. In their survey, Bughin, et al. (2008) found that the most commonly cited reason for failure of web 2.0 were, ‗inability of management to grasp the potential financial returns from Web 2.0, unresponsive corporate cultures, and less-than-enthusiastic leaders‘. (p4).

Organizational Issues

Levy (2009) identified that the issues with Web 2.0 is quite similar to Knowledge management, namely, a need for trust; interest of participants and partnership.(p132) Complete openness needed by Web 2.0 can cause issues, as examined by Adams (2008). He identified 4 issues with publicly accessible blogs: (1) exposure of trade secrets; (2) trade libel; (3) securities law violations; and (4) unauthorized use/posting of protected 60

intellectual property. (p471)

McNamara (2005) opines that there

is a possibility of employees ‗blogging off the cliff‘. Terming collaborative platforms as ‗subversive‘, Payne (2008) says that these technologies offer ability to collaborate but, this collaboration can occur outside organizational structure and processes thereby defeating the purpose. (p10)

Process and Technical Issues

McAfee (2006) cited in Grossman (2008) lists the following technical challenges associated with the complete openness of platforms of Web 2.0:

securing sensitive information behind the firewall, controlling access to levels of information and databases, protecting the integrity of information from tampering by disgruntled employees

Patrick and Dotsika (2007) identified issues in knowledge modeling, standardization, security, maintenance and scalability with respect to Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 relies on tagging and folksonomies (open-ended, collaboratively generated taxonomies) for classification which are inherently ambiguous. Taxonomies, the formal means of classification, on other hand are excessively restrictive in 61

modeling complex information and knowledge. Adoption of an emergent, heuristic and locally agreed semantics for classification is being could form a more useful. (Aberer et al., 2004)

To ensure retrieval across platforms and interoperability, standardization is essential. Dodds (2006), says that using Resource Description Framework (RDF), as the underlying model for RSS could help in the standardization effort.

Security issues like cross-site scripting, insecure randomness, etc. crops up due to emergent technologies, especially in the quest to design the AJAX based applications (Twynham, 2006). With respect to maintenance and scalability, although Web 2.0 applications are built mainly using Open Source software, lack of documentation and support leads to a need for in-house expertise (Patrick and Dotsika, 2007).


Figure 15 Gartner Hype Cycle, (Source: Gartner, 2009)

Despite all the issues, the general opinion is that Web 2.0 as a technology is at a level of maturity that it can be used. (EIU, 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009; Chui, et al., 2009) Young workers who come from a world exposed to such tools would expect the same within the workspace as well (Levy, 2009) and if not present, they can switch to the publicly accessible networks. (Payne, 2008) According to Tapscott and Williams (2006, cited in Adams, 2008), adoption of mass collaboration is not a luxury but a strategic imperative. This has been validated by the Gartner Hype Cycle for the technology trends of year 2009 which 63

predicts that Web 2.0 will be transformational, with an adoption time-window of 0 to 2 years. (MacManus, 2009 citing Gartner, 2009).

Thus a prudent option would be to embrace the Web 2.0 methodologies. Best practices for such an adoption are examined in the next section.

2.5.8 Web 2.0: Suggestions & Best Practices for usage

To get the best out of Web 2.0, changes have to be made to address the aspects of structure, culture and technology. Adams identified four steps as the Enterprise 2.0 best practices (2008). The first step is to ‗create a receptive culture to prepare the way for new practices‘. Essentially, this involves creating a more bottom-up culture and increasing the level of trust between employees. Ellonen, et al. (2008) define organizational trust as composed of two parts. One aspect is the horizontal trust involving ‗positive expectations individuals have about the competence, reliability and benevolence of organizational members‘. The other aspect is the lateral trust, or the ‗institutional trust‘ which is the trust in the organizational processes and policies. Trust needs to exist on both dimensions.


Web 2.0 works best in a bottom-up culture and with senior executives acting as the role models and leading through informal channels. (Chui, et al., 2009) The next step is to ‗create a common platform to allow for a collaboration infrastructure‘. From a technology perspective, it is better to start the initiative with Open source tools which are themselves a form of collaborative outsourcing (Tapscott and Williams, 2005). The products themselves are not central or core to business models and peer produced software generally fits such needs. However, applications need to scale to all users and Chui, et al. (2009) suggest management must actively encourage products that start to show higher usage and promise. Dursan and Suliman (2009) advise on a holistic platform that can be accessed, searched and indexed so that the content becomes easily accessible to all the users. In summary, it translates to using open source tools and scaling those that work well, and investing in a good search technology so that users can find the information they are looking for. The third suggestion is to use an ‗informal rollout approach as opposed to a more formal procedural one‘. Snowden (2007) says that the new paradigm is ‗not about selecting a tool based on pre-determined criteria, [but] it is about allowing multiple tools to co-evolve with each other, people and environments so that new 65

patterns of stable interaction form, and destabilize as needed to reform in new and contextually appropriate ways‘‘ (cited in Levy, 2009; p128) This is termed as the perpetual beta (Levy, 2009). Generally, the Web 2.0 initiative has succeeded whenever the business unit has been given freedom to choose the tools. (Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009; Levy, 2008)

Participants can be encouraged by recognizing contributions, bolstering reputation and acknowledging the usefulness of contribution. These methods are more in-tune with the ethos of web users. Allowing self-organization of communities through meritocratic principles of organization provides for a better participation (Chui, et al., 2009; Tapscott and Williams, 2005, p 67). The final suggestion from Adams (2008) is to get ‗managerial buy-in‘. The role of a leader in managing information and

knowledge is via two broad routes of technology and via the social networks. Leaders can act as catalysts for the change from a top-down to bottom up culture by acting as role-models. They can prove as the champions of new initiatives by constantly contributing and engaging with participants by networking, listening and acting on the comments received from other employees. They can trigger new modes of thought and influence communities by actively questioning and challenging the members 66

and finally encourage participation by recognizing the contribution and celebrating the success of communities. (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009).

Figure 16 Web 2.0 Best Practices

Bughin, et al., (2009) and Chui, et al. (2009) have pointed out that participation can be increased if Web 2.0 initiatives are aligned with the existing processes. Due to its novelty, Web 2.0 initiatives could be considered as separate from the mainstream


work. If it is incorporated into the daily workflow, such initiatives have a higher chance of success.

The best practices are summarized in figure 16. India – National Culture


The focus of the research that this paper addresses is the IT organizations based out of India. An exploration of the national culture and the Knowledge Management and Web 2.0 trends observed by various authors is examined in the following two sections.

Hofstede (1980 & 1991) in his seminal work on exploration of the national cultures had defined 4 parameters and ranked various countries on a comparative scale on these four parameters. The parameters and the relative position of India compared to other national cultures is shown in Figure 17.

Uncertainty avoidance: India is rated to have moderate uncertainty avoidance. However, Budhwar study by Kanungo and Mendonca (1994) (2001) reported a that found Indians as

having ‗an unwillingness to accept organizational change or take risk, reluctance to make important decisions in work-related matters or lack of initiative in problem solving, a disinclination to


accept responsibility for job-related tasks and an indifference to job feedback‘. (p80) Power Distance: India has a high power distance derived from the hierarchical nature of Hinduism, one of the primary religions of India. Indian organizational structures are hierarchal with age and seniority playing an important role in decisions about promotions and pay. (Budhwar, 2001; p80-81)

Figure 17 Hofstede's classification of Indian National Culture (Source: Budhwar, 2001)

Masculinity: India is rated as ‗low‘ in masculinity that is reflected in a ‗paternalistic management style and preference of personalized relationships rather than a more divorced performance orientation‘ (Kanuango and Jaeger, 1990) Individualism: Being rated low on ‗individualism‘, family and group attainments are supposed to take precedence over work outcomes for Indians. The purpose of work is thus a ‗means to fulfill one‘s family and social obligations‘ and not to express or fulfill one‘s self. (Budhwar, 2001, p83). 69

The research reported by Budhwar (2001) was primarily on manufacturing sector and in the 90s when India was not liberalized. In a study by Heuer (2006), India and US had similar uncertainty avoidance scores (40 and 46) as well as in the masculinity scores (56 and 62) respectively. However, power distance remained significantly high (Kakar, et al., 2002). Heuer also found that although both public and private sector organizations were affected by globalization and liberalization, the private sector synthesized the adjustments differently and the Indian culture was termed to be in ‗transition‘. Tan and Khoo (2002) identified that there was a mass adoption of western technology, knowledge and management systems especially in private sector.

In direct contradiction to Budhwar (2001), Deshpande, et al., (1999) too found that most successful Indian firms had an ‗entrepreneurial culture‘ (Quinn 1988; Quinn and Rohrbaugh 1983) and this was the most prevalent form of organizational culture in India. Such a culture encourages risk taking and innovation. Based on research on Indian companies, they could also find evidence to an earlier hypothesis by Capon et al. (1991) that high performance organizations have an organizational climate that encourages ‗innovativeness, communication, participation, decentralization, friendliness, and trust ‗ (p112). 70

On the leadership front, in the GLOBE research project, Liddell (2005) reported that ‗transformational-charismatic‘ and ‗team-oriented‘ leaders were found to be effective in India. Such leaders are ‗visionary, inspirational, decisive, performance-oriented, and willing to make personal sacrifices‘. Leaders who are diplomatic, collaborative and team builders are also highly valued. (p6-7)

The adoption of a professional and meritocratic corporate culture rather than a caste-based or hierarchical culture was seen in the IT organizations. Heuer (2006) observed that ‗corporate culture and business practices of India's IT firms are vastly superior to the traditional business houses and is at the forefront of improved corporate governance‘. Indian managers were also found to be capable of handling sophisticated strategy planning but bad at execution. India – Knowledge Management & Web 2.0


There is a lack of published research on innovation and knowledge management in emerging economies. (Knowledge and Process Management, 2008; p 184). However, with its large English speaking professionals, and large Diaspora that has already achieved thought leadership in knowledge intensive fields,


Ghosh and Ghosh (2008) predict that India will have a considerably big knowledge industry.

Based on a limited research Sanghani (2008) found that there is a considerable association between KM and organization size, measured in turnover as well as number of employees. (p14-15) Big organizations were found to be more organized and structured and the sheer size led to an investment in KM system to manage the organizational knowledge. (p19) Chatzkel (2004) published a case study of KM implementation at Wipro technologies, a large Indian IT organization. One of the prime drivers for a systematic KM implementation has been mentioned as ‗huge growth‘. Wipro has implemented a top-down knowledge

management strategy and no special investment in technology, except for Microsoft Sharepoint server. Emphasis has been placed on ‗connecting people‘ via discussion forums and yellow pages, with the understanding that tacit knowledge cannot be easily encoded but, socializing can help in transfer of such knowledge or skill.

On the other hand, smaller organizations were lagging behind due to the scale of investment and lack of clarity in terms of return on investment (Sanghani, 2008; p19). A potential area of research that is unanswered is this: if the cost of investment towards KM system were to reduce drastically by usage of Web 72

2.0, would such organization show more interest in investing towards KM efforts.

Bughin, et al., (2009) examined the usage pattern of Web 2.0 technologies. India has a higher adoption rate for blogs, wikis while North America had a slightly higher usage of Social Networking tools compared to India (Figure 18). Kushan (2007) has explored the trend of CEO blogging in India. Apart from these articles, there is no authoritative data in terms of Web 2.0 and its usage in Indian organizations. There is a lack of

information on the usage and deployment of blogs and wikis in India based organizations.

Figure 18 Web 2.0 in India and North America (Source: Bughin, et al., 2009)


Summarizing the entire section, various authors have provided a viewpoint on how an organization can manage knowledge, both for its individuals as well as an organization itself. Knowledge management as a discipline has been examined under various disciplines and its implementation has seen varied levels of satisfaction. The concept of Web 2.0 is quite promising due to its emphasis on user-generated content through sharing and collaboration. It has a potential to address the main ask of a KM system – engaging the audience to contribute and collaborate. Younger workforce is exposed to these technologies and expects the same in organizations. India has the advantage of a ―demographic dividend‖ (Murthy, 2009) – a rise of working age population, coupled with rapid growth in the IT sector. These organizations, either Indian owned or subsidiaries of foreign companies must be facing similar issues with KM but, there is a lack of research. Same is the case with Web 2.0 and its usage across the India based IT organizations.

The purpose of this research is to qualitatively examine if Web 2.0 is being adopted and used as per the existing findings of the literature. Specifically, this research aims to answer the following questions:


In the Indian IT companies, is Knowledge Management practiced and does it depend on the organization size? Is Web 2.0 understood by employees and management in IT organizations? Is Web 2.0 being used for KM in the IT organizations in India? Does top management and leadership play a role in adoption of Web 2.0 in the organizations?

The research objectives, methodologies and findings are part of the following sections.




The purpose of this research is to understand how Web 2.0 is being used and how the knowledge is being management in India-based IT organizations. The best primary source of information would be the people within these organizations who would be exposed to the tools and processes. However, there was an issue with directly asking an opinion on Knowledge Management process or Web 2.0 since it assumed that all employees would understand be aware of these specific topics. To work-around the problem, the research tried to gain an understanding of the typical tools and processes involved in gathering knowledge, the method by which knowledge was shared and exposure to specific tools like blogs and wikis.

Senior management opinion was necessary to answer the broader question on strategy that organizations use for implementing the knowledge management system and how they viewed Web 2.0. The role of leadership and the importance of specific cultural aspects like trust in helping adoption was also explored via the research through senior management‘s opinion.

Opinions from employees was used to build the foundation of the research whilst the senior management‘s opinion was


necessary to address the strategic aspects associated with KM and Web 2.0.

During the research process, a successful implementation of Web 2.0 in Knowledge Management was identified. This specific implementation is presented as a case study to illustrate the validity of the research findings.

This research involved understanding the perception of employees on Knowledge Management and Web 2.0, the way they use it and adopt it and the role of senior management in designing or leading the adoption.


Research Objectives

Knowledge management, as examined in the previous chapter has faced a lot of challenges in implementation. Web 2.0 being relatively new has its own set of gray areas. IT organizations operating in India have not been researched in depth with respect to the impact and issues faced in implementing a Knowledge Management program and adoption of Web 2.0. The purpose of this research is to initiate this examination and propose a framework for implementing a Knowledge Management program while adopting the best practices and philosophy of Web 2.0. Specifically, this research tries to answer following questions:


1. Does IT organizations in India stress on Knowledge Management 2. Does the importance of KM vary with the size of the organization? 3. How is Web 2.0 being perceived and utilized by IT organizations operating in India? 4. Highlight the pain points in implementation of successful KM programs and Web 2.0 initiatives. 5. Understand if the Web 2.0 adoption was bottom-up or strategically implemented as a top-down program. 6. Does the top management and leadership play a role in the adoption of Web 2.0 initiatives? 7. Identify if Web 2.0 will: a. Act as the new Knowledge Management system b. Complement existing KM systems OR c. Remain separate from existing KM systems 8. Propose a framework for implementing a Web 2.0 based KM program.


Research Methodology

The authors objective is to understand the adoption and impact of Web 2.0 in a few IT organizations of India. Since Web 2.0 is a new concept and at various stages of adoption,



how employees are learning and using it was an

important point to analyze.

According to Collis and Hussey (2003), phenomology deals with the subjective state of the individual. Remenyi (1998) explained that a positivistic research is independent of and neither affects nor is affected by the subject of the research and the results can be generalized in a mathematical model. This research does not fall either into a clear ‗positive‘ paradigm or a ‗phenomological‘ paradigm. It includes aspects of identifying mathematical relationship (e.g.: if organizational size has an impact on KM activities) as well as subjective insights (e.g.: perception of KM as a means to make employees redundant).

The research consisted of an online questionnaire for employees from various organizations with follow-up clarification email where necessary. Ideally, semi-structured interviews with each research participant would have yielded ‗richer‘ information necessary for a better qualitative research. However, due to time constraints, a questionnaire to general participants had to be used. According to Bell (2005), survey can be used to obtain information which can be analyzed and patterns can be extracted along with making comparisons. They are also a cost effective way of obtaining information.


Surveys are good to find the ‗what?‘, ‗where?‘, ‗when?‘ and ‗how‘ but not necessarily the ‗why?‘. However, causal relationships are generally hard to identify through a survey (Bell, 2005). Semistructured interviews lend themselves to this exploratory research (Saunders et al., 2003) According to Wass and Wells (1994),

semi-structured interviews can be used to explain the themes that have emerged from the use of questionnaire. Hence, semi-structured interviews were held with two senior managers to gain a more in-depth and a broader perspective.

Figure 19 Why Questionnaire and Interviews?

Conclusions are based on level of agreement with the previous literature and points of digression. Based on the inputs from the participants of questionnaire and the interview, a framework for implementing Web 2.0 is presented.


Research Design

Earlier researchers have identified the generic trends in usage of Web 2.0 tools (Bughin, et al, 2008; Chui, et al., 2009) According to Tapscott and Williams (2006), the greatest impact of 80

new collaborative technologies has been in the production of information goods, such as software, media and entertainment products (p25). Hence, the focus of research is organizations involved in software services or software product development. The initial research done was to identify trends in usage and understanding of Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management in such IT organizations. Towards this purpose, an online survey was initiated to employees of various organizations. 3.3.1 Questionnaire Survey – Design & Rationale

The complete sample size of the target audience was the entire set of employees in the IT organizations working in India. Gaining access to information on this population would be very difficult and hence, probability sampling was not used. Instead, non-probability sampling was used since the author would have the liberty to identify specific survey respondents and thus violating the principle of probability sampling where ‗each item in population should have equal chance of being selected‘ (Research Methods and Dissertation, 2006). The salient features of the sample size were:

Statistical inferences were not necessary since the research objective is to identify a general trend.


It is hard to get a representative sample due to limitation of time and researchers‘ resources. The purpose of the research is exploratory and identify individuals for the questionnaire was based on features like their total experience and age.

A sampling technique of Purposive sampling with a focus on key themes was necessary. Hence, a sampling technique of

heterogeneous sampling was used. (See figure 20 for the flow-chart)

The respondents for the questionnaire were chosen from a sample with two different set of experience levels. Employees with 6 years or less of experience formed one set of participants and those with more experience formed the second set. The first group of respondents would have been exposed to nascent Web 2.0 initiatives either when they started the career or during their college days. According to Levy (2009), as noted in Section 2.5.7, younger population is already exposed to the Web 2.0 tools and expect same in the workplace. This group, the author felt would utilize the tools more than the older employees.

The second set of respondents would have seen the evolution of Knowledge Management as well as the impact (if any) by Web 2.0 on KM. The survey further classified the respondents as employees into two categories: 82

1. Employees working for Indian IT companies: An Indian IT company according to this research, is an organization that has its core development/support office in India. The customers of such a company could be globally located. Typical examples of such companies are Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant, HCL, etc. These companies generally design and implement their KM strategy from India. 2. Employees working for multi-nationals that operate in India but, could have a global spread. IBM, Accenture, Microsoft are some examples of such companies. Such organizations could import the Knowledge Management strategy that is developed in US (or parent country) and customize it to India. The research method is summarized in table below:

The classification was done to identify if there was any remarkable differences in the way these organizations operated in terms of Knowledge Management and Web 2.0. In section 2.6, it was noted that traditional Indian organizations had an organizational culture that is more hierarchical and less averse to risk taking while the new IT organizations had a more culture that resembled the US culture of risk-taking and individual excellence.

The questions within the survey were categorized into following areas: 83

1. Questions on organizational structure and organizational culture. 2. Prevalence of a Knowledge Management system and its usage. 3. Web 2.0, its perception, usage and future plans.

Here is the mapping of the objectives of the research (listed on page 73) to specific questions within the questionnaire:
TABLE 3 Research Objectives and Survey questions

Objective# Research Objective *Background *Organization size 1 Stress on KM by IT Organizations 2 KM - importance varies with organization size 3 Perception of Web 2.0 4 Pain points in KM and Web 2.0 implementation Culture People Technology 5 Web 2.0: Top down or bottom up 6 Role of top management in Web 2.0 7 Web 2.0 helps KM or different? 8 Framework of Web 2.0 based KM

Question Numbers 1, 2 3, 4, 5 17-27 22-27 28, 29, 30, 35, 36, 37

6-15, 23-27 31,32, 33 32, 33, 34 No direct questions No direct questions

* questions necessary for background research, no mapping to research objectives.

The first set of questions was used to identify the type of a leadership, the level of trust, and the level of openness that is 84

present in an organization. These set of questions were meant to establish the organizational structure, organizational culture and the type of leadership prevalent in IT organizations. According to Section 2.2, effective Knowledge Management is dependent on prevalence of trust within the organization and a form of leadership that is espouses drive, questioning and encourage employees to contribute. The questions also tried to identify if a ‗collaborative culture‘, as defined in section existed in organizations that came across as being good at KM.

The second set of questions was used for understanding the existing Knowledge Management practices as seen by general employees, rather than from the perspective of top management. These questions were to establish if the organization was operating in the ‗double‘ or ‗deutero-loop learning‘ mode, which is necessary to be a good learning organization (Section 2.2.2). The final set of questions within this section were to help identify the technologies used commonly for communicating and sharing knowledge. Section identified the commonly used technologies and the questions were to identify if there any tools not already explored in the research.
TABLE 4 Methodology for Questionnaire Research

Sampling technique

Purposive sampling 85

(Heterogeneous sampling) Sampling Unit Employees from selected subset Sample size Research Instrument 33 Online questionnaire

The final set of questions was to help gauge the level of exposure, understanding and usage of Web 2.0 technologies in various organizations. The initial questions were to identify if employees understand the concept of Web 2.0. As seen in section 2.5.1, Web 2.0 has a very vague imprint and people are often confused between the concept of Web 2.0 and its technologies. The aim of the questions were to how clear employees were in understanding the concept and tools, and the patterns of usage and to identify if there was any noticeable difference between the usage patterns highlighted by various authors as explained in section 2.5.5.

Attempt was also made to identify of how Web 2.0 enters the organization and the road ahead, as seen by the employees. For this, the questions had to be put at two different levels. One involved identifying the manifestations of use and direct opinions. An example of manifestation of use was – does senior 86

management communication happen via blogs or videos as compared to emails and face-to-face meetings. In the literature, authors feel that Web 2.0 enters organizations via individual employees and then spreads in a bottom-up manner. The aim was to analyze if the same happened in Indian organizations or if Web 2.0 usage was still a strategic, top-management decision. 3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews – Design & Rationale

The questionnaire responses was followed by semi-structured interviews with senior managers who were either responsible or have seen the evolution of the Knowledge Management and the Web 2.0 systems in Indian IT organizations. Two telephonic interviews were held. Both the respondents have more than 10 years of experience in KM and have been working in India-based IT organizations.

Semi-structured interview and open ended questions allow for responses to reflect the richness and complexity of views (Denscombe, 2003). The purpose of these interviews were to gather anecdotal evidence, best practices and lessons learnt in the implementation of the KM and Web 2.0 systems with the Indian context.

Identification of the participants was based on the following points: 87

Statistical inferences were not necessary since the purpose of interview was to build on the questionnaire data.

It is hard to get a representative sample due to limitation of access to such senior managers. Focus was on senior managers who had an exposure to Web 2.0 and worked for implementing KM for their respective organizations to provide an in-depth expertise.

Figure 20 Non-probability Sampling methods


Based on the above points, a purposive sampling with a focus on in-depth knowledge was necessary. In other words, a homogenous sampling method was used. (See figure 20 for flowchart). The sampling methodology is summarized in table below.

TABLE Methodology for Semi-structured Interviews

Sampling technique

Purposive sampling of senior managers who have implemented or worked supervised the implementation efforts of Web 2.0/KM systems

Homogeneous sampling

Sampling Unit

Employees from selected subset

Sample size Research Instrument

2 Semi-structured interview

Follow-up emails were used with both the interview participants and a few of the questionnaire respondents as well. These emails threw up points that the author hadn‘t anticipated. For example, one email led to question if Web 2.0 is not being 89

adopted precisely because it is open and reduced management‘s control.



The first part of the research involved an on line questionnaire and the second half of research involved semstructured interviews. The findings of the questionnaire survey are presented in section 4.1 and the interview summary is presented in section 4.2. Web 2.0 and KM – Employees perspective


An online survey was published and 33 participants were identified based on the organization size and experience levels. A sample questionnaire has been in included in Appendix 2. 20 usable responses were received from the survey. (See table below).

17 of the respondents were from India-based IT organizations while 3 of the participants were from multi-national organizations that have an office in India. The organizations were split into 4 different categories based on the number of employees:

Small organizations (0-499) Mid-sized organization (1000-4999) 90

Large organization (5000 and above)
TABLE 5 Questionnaire response summary

Survey Total respondents Partially complete Total complete Incomplete/unusable survey Total useful surveys

No of respondents 33 11 22 2 20

There was a category for organizations with 500-999 employees, but no responses were received for this category. (See Fig 19)

The research findings are split into 3 sections, regarding the Organizational Research, findings on KM and opinions about Web 2.0.

Figure 21 Respondent organization type and size


4.1.1 Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture

According to literature, Knowledge Management requires a culture where trust is built-in and employees feel empowered to share the knowledge. The first set of questions were to identify the type of culture prevalent in the organizations.

Based on the survey, all the respondents felt that their organizational environment was ‗friendly‘ and ‗personal‘ with the colleagues being part of a ‗family‘. This finding is similar to the research by other authors (Hofstede, 1980 & 1991; Budwar, 2001; Deshpande, et al., 1999) who identified that a group orientation and low masculinity are features of the Indian national culture. On the question of leadership, ‗entrepreneurial‘ culture seems to be the most prevalent followed by a coordinator type of leadership As the size of the organization grows, the primary leadership type changed from being entrepreneurial to being more paternalistic and coordinational. All three leadership patterns are similar to the findings in by Liddell (2005).


Figure 22 Leadership types in Indian IT Organizations

Trust has been pointed out as an important factor for organizations to have an effective Knowledge Management initiative (section 2.3.1) or a Web 2.0 program (section 2.5.3). According to Ellonen, et al. (2008), the key factor contributing

to knowledge sharing culture and innovation is trust. The survey asked respondents whether they trusted their colleagues and superiors. In the small and mid-sized organizations, all respondents trusted their colleagues and superiors equally, and completely. However, in larger organizations, employees tend to trust their colleagues more than their superiors. There is a relatively less trust in superiors despite a majority of respondents agreeing that there is very good communication between senior management and staff. This lack of horizontal and especially 93

vertical trust, could act as a challenge towards effective implementation of Knowledge management or Web 2.0 efforts. The exact cause of this reduction in trust, apart from organizational size is not clear.

Figure 23 Trust in organizations

Kanungo and Mendonca (1994) and Budhwar (2001) had concluded that Indians were generally not open to change and did not like to take ownership of tasks. This would imply an organization with formal processes and bureaucracy to ensure compliance or an organization with stress on tradition.

However, 90% of respondents (18 out of 20) in this survey felt complete ownership of their task. Being open to change and objective goal setting were seen to be important in all 94

organizations. KM and Web 2.0 requires individuals to have a sense of ownership. Without the freedom, individuals may not reflect and analyze a situation and double-loop or deuteron loop learning may not exist. Employees in large organizations felt that ‗loyalty and tradition‘ was as important as ‗innovation and change‘ when asked what holds the organization together (figure 24). There appears to be a gradual change in the risk appetite and openness to change.

Figure 24 What holds organization together?

The next question asked if the employees felt that their opinions were considered in their organization for decision making. This question is loosely tied to level of trust and the 95

openness of senior management to seek feedback from employees.

66% of the respondents felt that their opinions mattered while 20 % were not clear if their opinions . The rest were not sure on the importance placed to their opinions. Hence, close to 40% of employees are not sure if their opinions matter implying that the decision making is still either hierarchical and or the decision making process is opaque and individual opinions are not acknowledged.

In summary, according to the survey, the broad picture of an Indian IT organization is that of a place driven by commitment, having a friendly and family-oriented atmosphere ;a place where individuals feel ownership for their own sphere of work and tend to trust each other. The role of a leader is that of an entrepreneur, mentor or coordinator depending on size of organization. Employees feel measured on performance by clear goals, but are not completely sure if their opinions matter.

4.1.2 Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management

In this section of questionnaire, the respondents were asked question on how knowledge is created, captured, formatted, shared and rewarded (Bhat, 2001). The first few questions were

to gauge the prevalence of basic systems for capture 96

organizational knowledge. Almost all the organizations seem to have some form of a knowledge sharing system as well as a discussion forum (See figure 23). Two of the small organizations said they don‘t have an enterprise level knowledge sharing system but, they did have standard templates for sharing documents.

Figure 25 Existence of a Basic KM

The next question put to the survey audience was on the clarity of Knowledge Management process in terms of knowledge capture. This is the first step in Knowledge Management, as per Bhat‘s model (section and closely resembles the ‗experimentation‘ phase of a learning organization (section 2.2).


The respondents were asked to rate their choice for the 5 parameters (Figure 26). Here, ‗hard knowledge‘ is recording information like the technical complexity, identifying best practices, etc. ‗Soft‘ knowledge is information necessary for personal rapport with the customer or the customer‘s preferences. For example, this could the preference of emails for communication rather than calls by a customer.

In one of the small organizations, the respondent indicated that they had a clear process for problem solving but, were not open to experimentation. The same respondent was not sure if he/she was supposed to record the learning from project. start-up, the employee indicated that they only record ‗soft‘ information but no other knowledge is captured. Finally, in another small organization, knowledge seems to be recorded by individuals but it is not shared. In most organizations, ‗soft‘ information seems to captured well but, ‗hard‘ information is not being captured efficiently. A lot of responses were marked ‗Neither agree nor disagree‘ indicating the respondents were not completely clear on the expectation from the organization. In a


Figure 26 Effectiveness in 'capturing' knowledge

The next two survey questions were on openness and freedom in sharing information. Members in a learning organization, as per Garvin (1993) must be good at learning from their own experience and from experience of others. This entails an ability to share the learnings, reflect and brain-storm on improvements. This process is similar to the ‗double-loop learning‘ and the ‗knowledge validation‘ step in Batt‘s model (section 2.2.2 and

As per the survey, the amount of freedom seems to reduce as the organization size increases. The role of a designated gatekeeper for information as well as the importance of a centralized team responsible for facilitating sharing of knowledge increases with the increase in organization size (figure 27). 99

Similarly, the importance of middle managers as decision-maker for sharing information increased with increase in organization size.

An interesting aspect when looking at the result is that earlier respondents felt that horizontal and vertical trust reduced with organizational size. Here, it is felt that freedom reduces with organizational size. This leads to an interesting point that as trust reduces, the freedom for employees to start initiatives and share ideas reduces.

Figure 27 Role of gatekeepers and Centralized KM team

The final set of questions in this section was on rewards and recognition for those who contribute and share knowledge. De Long and Fahey (2000) had hypothesized in their study that the organizational culture itself can act as a motivator for knowledge creation, sharing and use. The responses from this 100

survey corroborates the findings. Rather than recognition, a collaborative culture has been noted as the main reason for sharing knowledge (41% overall). This is followed by recognition by senior management through emails, meetings and other nonfinancial rewards (figure 28). In large organizations, the CXO blogs were pointed out by respondents as an important medium for recognizing an individual‘s contribution as well encouraging and motivating employees for sharing knowledge (20%).

Figure 28 Motivation to share knowledge

Summarizing this part of questionnaire responses, most organizations seem to use some form of a portal/discussion forum. There appears a bit of confusion in knowledge capture. Technical and process related learnings are not being effectively captured. This particular weakness violates the definition of ‗learning organization‘ (Garvin, 1993) as well as the double-loop 101

learning (Argyris and Schön, 1978). To be termed as true ‗learning organization‘ more effective capturing of the ‗hard‘ knowledge is necessary. Organizations depend on a ‗culture of sharing‘ as the prime motivator for knowledge sharing rather than any specific motivation/rewards mechanism. However, larger the organizational size, the motivation and freedom to share reduces. Thus, there is a contradictory requirement – better knowledge dissemination is achieved through a culture of sharing but, the

motivation and freedom to share reduces as the organizational size increases. An organization requiring an effective KM will

thus need to build a culture of trust that is retained even as it grows in size. Web 2.0 with its ability to reach all employees or with a freedom to engage a micro-audience can play a significant role in balance this requirement. Such an effective use is

highlighted in the case study under section 4.6. 4.1.3 Web 2.0 – Perception and Usage

In the third and final section of the questionnaire, respondents were asked about their understanding of Web 2.0, their perception of how it is being used and how they see it impacting their organization.

According to various researchers (EIU, 2007; Adams, 2008; Levy, 2009), Web 2.0 suffers from a lack of clarity due to 102

multiplicity of definitions. The primary definition of Web 2.0 should include ‗user generated content‘ followed by its utility of sharing and collaboration. EIU (2007) had found that there was a possibility of users getting stuck in the ‗trappings‘ of Web 2.0 while losing sight of the core concept of ‗network effect‘.

However, in this the survey, it appears that the respondents generally understand the technologies that adhere to concept of Web 2.0 while not always being clear on Web 2.0 as a concept (figure 28). 85% of users understood Web 2.0 as ‗sharing and collaboration‘ signifying that they were not trapped in just the technology of Web 2.0.

Figure 29 Survey Response: What is Web 2.0?

The next 2 questions were to identify the tools used by respondents as compared to the tools used within the 103

organizations. This question was used to understand if there was a gap in terms of tools used by individuals and if there was a lag in organizational adoption. Most individual users as well as organizations use Wikis, Blogs, RSS and Web . Within organizations, social networking and tagging is lagging by a larger percentage when compared to individual use (figure 30). This could be due to lack of proper software and integration effort for the products, which was identified by a senior manager in a clarification email.

Figure 30 Web 2.0 – Which tools do you use?

On the question of ‗Why does your organization use Web 2.0?‘ (figure 31), the responses were similar to the findings of study by Bughin, et al. (2008) 85% of the respondents felt that ―Managing Knowledge‖ is the primary internal use of Web 2.0 104

followed by ―fostering collaboration‖ and ―Training‖. Further, the survey found that in 75% of the cases, senior managers were leading or encouraging the initiatives.

When combined with the findings of Chiu, et. al., (2009) (section 2.5.6), the tools used are chiefly for broad collaboration and communication and the purpose of Web 2.0 is mainly for content generation and community building. Usage of tagging and social networking tools would help in both the purpose and enhance the ‗pattern of interactions‘ thereby enhancing the organizational knowledge, as envisioned by Bhat (see Section 2.2).

Figure 31 Why does your organization use Web 2.0?

EIU (2007) identified lack of exposure to open source technologies as a hindrance in Web 2.0 adoption. In the IT 105

companies surveyed, 70% felt their organization had capability to use Open Source platforms and thus adopt Web 2.0 technologies. As the organizations surveyed are IT companies, technology itself is not seen as a big hindrance in adoption of Web 2.0.

The next question in the survey was to identify if Web 2.0 had been adopted bottom-up or via a strategic top-down approach. According to various research (Bughin, et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Levy, 2009 and EIU, 2007) Web 2.0 is generally a bottom-up movement with the business units driving the adoption. However, the respondents to this survey were not so sure. In most organizations, especially in small and mid-sized organizations, it was the Senior Managers/IT Managers who choose Web 2.0 tools. However, business units seem to exert more influence as the organization size increases since responses were split evenly in large organizations (Figure 32).


Figure 32 How is Web 2.0 introduced?

In the next question the respondents were asked if 2.0 had made an impact on them and their organizations.


In the organizations that used Web 2.0, peer to peer communication is seen the greatest improvement (Figure 33). All 5 respondents from small and medium sized organizations agreed that Web 2.0 improved effectiveness in three aspects: knowledge sharing, peer communication and senior management communication. In larger organization, 25% felt no change was seen in senior management communication. On further email with a respondent, no improvement was seen in senior management communication when the senior mangers were not playing a leadership role in Web 2.0 adoption.


Figure 33 How has Web 2.0 impacted you?

On the question of barriers to Web 2.0, employees clearly indicated that an organization‘s structure, culture or the leadership were not seen as an issue. However, lack of incentive coupled and an unclear ROI were seen as barriers to its success. As pointed out in Section 4.2.3, this requires more role-models, frequent recognition mailers, newsletters and non-financial rewards.


Figure 34 Barriers to Web 2.0

On the whole, Web 2.0 seems to have made a positive impact on most organizations. It was seen to improve communication as well as knowledge sharing. Leadership was not generally lacking on this effort and organizations seemed to be technically equipped to work with the Web 2.0 tools. The satisfaction was confirmed with the final response where 80% agreed that their organization was planning to expand use of Web 2.0. A need for training employees and ensuring the involvement of senior managers in the adoption was also pointed out in the survey.

4.1.4 Survey Summary

The Indian IT organization is seen as a place filled with a family-oriented atmosphere, led by a leader acting as an 109

entrepreneur/mentor. Performance goals seem to be relatively clear and there is a sense of ownership. Organizations seem to be having issues in capturing knowledge and generally depend on a culture of sharing for contribution. Encouragement and motivation for contributing to Knowledge management effort is lacking. Finally, Web 2.0 is seen as an enabler for better sharing and collaborating. It is not seen as a technical challenge and employees are generally open to use the tools.

With respect to the research objectives, following were clear from the survey:

Knowledge sharing happens in organization but, the steps of Knowledge capture and validation are not clear to all employees. Importance of Knowledge management appears to be more important in larger organizations than smaller organizations. Web 2.0 technologies are quite well understood, but, the usage is limited to collaboration and communication (mainly wikis and blogs). The technology underlying these tools is not seen as a challenge.

However, there were a few unanswered questions from the survey:


On the question of barriers to Web 2.0, 30% of respondents were not sure if the incentives were sufficient. With a work-experience of at least 6 years for most respondents, this lack of clarity needs investigation. Even though senior management is involved in introducing Web 2.0, it was not clear if the introduction was done as a pilot or as a strategic launch across organization. The specific tools used for Web 2.0 initiatives and Knowledge Management program were not clear. Employees are unclear if their contributions are seen valuable. There is a perception that sufficient encouragement is not being provided for contributing towards knowledge sharing. If Senior Management is committed to KM, this lack of encouragement is unclear. As organizations grow in size, the amount of freedom and trust reduces. For an effective KM and Web 2.0 effort, these two factors are essential. It is not clear how the growth and erosion of freedom and trust can be balanced.

To answer these questions and to gain a further clarity on the actual process of KM/Web 2.0 implementation, two semistructured interviews were conducted. The findings from these interviews are explained in the next section.



Web 2.0 and KM – Management Perspective

Two telephonic semi-structured interviews were held to explore the unanswered questions from the previous section. One interviewee is responsible for KM initiative in the Asia region of a very large global product company. The second interviewee is the former Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) of a huge IT services organization. The findings are based on the meeting notes (Ranganath, 2009a; Ranganath 2009b). Unfortunately, the complete contents of the meeting notes could not added to the appendix due to the corporate policies of the organizations. 4.2.1 About KM – Current state and challenges

One of the managers defined KM as ensuring availability of information to the consultants whenever they needed and felt that Drucker was right that knowledge is the primary competitive advantage in any modern organization (section 1). The definition of KM is similar to the work of O‘Dell and Grayson (section 2.3).

According to one senior manager, KM has been around in most organizations in one form or another. KM implementation generally starts with simple project repositories and evolves into a combination of tools including expertise databases, training portals, workspaces and discussion forums. These are the

conventional KM systems that were described in section 112

However, there are three main challenges seen in the existing KM systems:

Objective: In many organizations, it was difficult to motivate people to contribute. One of the primary reasons is the very objective of KM. According to a manager, employees perceive KM systems as a knowledge repository that hordes knowledge so that the organizations did not suffer when the employees quit. Since KM systems not perceived as productivity enhancement applications, their usage was low. Participation: Participation on KM systems is generally very low. Encouraging experts to document their knowledge is generally difficult. In typical KM systems, usage has been observed to be very low and this low usage further discourages experts to contribute. Discussion forums are the only platforms where the participation has been generally better. Alignment: Aligning the goals of KM and the business has generally been challenging. Without sufficient time from Senior Managers, getting the right alignment is seen to be difficult. Over the past few years, however, senior business managers have taken responsibility of KM and this has helped in better alignment. 113

Rapid growth: As per one senior manager, their organization was witnessing a rapid growth and effective KM systems are necessary to quickly assimilate the new employees. Indian culture: The Indian national culture too plays a part in hampering the sharing of knowledge. Three aspects of the culture act as barriers to KM: o Indians typically face a lot of competition during education. Due to extreme competition, they generally don‘t like to trust or share knowledge. o Indians have a tendency for using information without providing feedback. Contributors are thus discouraged since they don‘t get an opinion on the acceptance of their work. o Finally, hierarchy in organizations prevents an open communication and feedback.

The underlying cause for many issues could be a lack of clarity on the objective of a KM system, an organizational culture that doesn‘t promote sharing or an incentive structure that doesn‘t reward collaboration. These points would be against the building blocks of a learning organization (section 2.2) and seriously hamper the integration of individual knowledge into the organizational knowledge base. 114

However, Indians are generally open to a paternalistic leadership and respond well to mentoring. A senior management actively involved in sharing and encouraging participation is seen important in effective KM.

Knowledge Management In Small Organizations In smaller organizations, ‗everyone knows everyone‘. In such a situation, people tend to walk to other person‘s desk or send an email for specific information. Enterprise KM systems are generally not used, nor is it effective. However, a small system with simple information regarding corporate policies would be useful in ramping up new employees. A full-fledged KM system is seen useful when:

Organizations are spread across multiple geographies/offices The organization is undergoing a rapid growth and needs to assimilate new employees faster.

The primary challenge in such large organizations is the erosion of trust and motivation to share across teams. The secondary challenge is the ‗know-who‘ problem. Since each person does not every other employee, approaching the right person for a given problem tends to get difficult.


4.2.2 Where does Web 2.0 fit in? When asked the question, ―Does Web 2.0 fit into the philosophy and concepts of KM?‖, both the senior managers answered in affirmative. Web 2.0 is seen as a mechanism that elevates the practice of KM through better participation and usage by employees.

Web 2.0 and sustaining trust

The primary concern identified in previous section was the lack of trust, both culturally and organizationally that contributes to a incompletely effective KM.

According to the managers, through its philosophy of being ―open, public and transparent‖ (Ranganath, 2009b), Web 2.0 builds more trust and adoption increases. The relatively young IT employees are already familiar with the tools and are willing to share and collaborate (Ranganath, 2009a). The new technology is thus seen to help in creation of virtual relationships by the means of ―weak ties‖ relationships (Granovetter, 1973). This

hypothesis says that it is possible to reach people outside the group of known people (―strong ties‖) and generally it is these people who have novel or innovative solutions. Thus, Web 2.0 is able to sustain the culture of trust even as the organization grows as well as addressing the ‗know-who‘ problem. Social 116










addressing the ‗know-who‘ problem and leveraging the ‗weak ties‘ relationship as explained in section 2.5.4.

Web 2.0 and engaging the employees

Web 2.0 is also seen as a better mechanism to tap into the ‗wisdom of the crowds‘ (Surowiecki, 2004). This is seen through the ability to engage the audience via blogs or freedom to edit Wiki pages or the ability to add meaning through tagging and making this available to everyone. Prior to Web 2.0, only discussion forums managed to tap the knowledge held by experts.

Web 2.0 is also seen as an effective tool for capturing the ―know-who‖ along with the ―know-how‖ (Ranganath, 2009a). Traditional KM stressed on capturing knowledge but did not effectively cater to the question of identifying an expertise with a person. By using the tagging functionality and identifying topics generally blogged or wiki edits by a person, experts can be identified. This mechanism helps in building a ‗yellow-page‘ of experts through the contribution of users, rather than through a centralized classification exercise. This concept is similar to the meritocracy in open source software development described by Tapscott and Williams (2006). This meritocracy itself acts as a 117

motivator. Getting into the ‗yellow-page‘ as an expert is seen as a positive challenge and a motivator towards more contribution. Web 2.0 – Tools that matter

The table below summarizes the tools that are mainly used in the Web 2.0 initiatives. Tools like mashups and ‗collective estimation‘ identified by Bughin et al., (2008) are not yet prevalent in IT organizations.

Although no clear reason was identified, the author opines that these tools being a higher-order deployments could be used after the basic Web 2.0 tool adoption is more mature.
TABLE 6 Web 2.0 Technologies in Use

Web 2.0 technology Blogs, Wikis, Tagging, Discussion forums, Shared workspaces RSS, Social Networking, Podcasts

Status In use 1-3 years

Blogs and Wikis are seen as the most prevalent tools even by the senior managers along with the traditional KM tools like shared workspaces.

4.2.3 Challenges in Web 2.0 adoption

Here are a few challenges in Web 2.0 adoption that were identified by the two interviewees: 118

Management buy-in Web 2.0 being ‗inherently disruptive‘ (Chui, et al., 2009) has its own challenges from a management perspective. Web 2.0 is seen to turn the concept of KM upside down. In the traditional KM, senior management is the main driver and gaining the adoption and buy-in of all employees was difficult.

On the other hand, Web 2.0 being bottom-up and participative, is easier to adopt by users. For a better participation, Web 2.0 initiatives cannot have rigorous procedures. However, Management feels a loss of control due to openness and getting their buy-in is challenging. This is the exact same problem identified by Chiu et al., (2009) and detailed in section 2.5.8.

Thus, a Senior Manager who is already aware of Web 2.0 and who can lead by example in Web 2.0 adoption is seen to be effective in gaining the buy-in from management as well as encouraging better participation from all employees. This is similar to the observation by Chiu, et al. (2009, p5) that ―transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top‖.


Participation, Recognition and Education

To ensure people adopt and participate, encouragement is necessary. (Chui, et al., 2009) Rather than just financial rewards, recognition through newsletters and corporate occasions have been effective (Ranganath, 2009b).

To gain a better adoption, training, awareness campaigns and ‗unconferences‘ (Monahan, 2007) have been found to be very useful. The case study in the next section provides an example of different modes of encouragement that have proven to be successful.

While interviewing the senior managers, it came across to the author that both the mangers were very hands-on users of blogging platforms like Wordpress as well as social networkers using KCommunity (a KM community). Outside of their work too, the managers were active in community-building via constantly questioning, encouraging and challenging other users on their blog site and the other portals. Such a leadership was one of the criteria identified as necessary for building a good learning organization (Section 2.2).


Metrics and ROI

Metrics are generally a pain in the KM industry (Ranganath, 2009a). However, a starting point would to be measure two main aspects of Web 2.0 – contribution and consumption. For

example, few metrics related to blogs that are useful would be number of unique contributors, number of blog posts, average number of blog views and comments (Adams, 2008). Such primary metrics provide information on the usage and adoption of the tools.

Secondary metrics are not standardized and depends on the business objective being met. For example, one organization used the metric ‗effort saved‘ to measure the effectiveness of the discussion forum. It compared the time taken to solve a problem via discussion forum as against time it would have taken without the forum.

During the interviews, it was striking that the traditional analysis of ‗cost v/s benefit‘ was not raised since the inherent belief was KM has an unlimited ROI (Ranganath, 2009a) and thus escaping the common short-sightedness that many organizations face while embarking on KM (see ‗challenges to KM‘, section 2.4).


Products Used

The latest version of Sharepoint by Microsoft has been seen to address multiple KM requirements by one manager. Since most organizations already use Microsoft products, adopting Sharepoint is seen to be easier.

Other technologies that are generally used for KM and Web 2.0 initiative are summarized in table below.
TABLE 7 Web 2.0 / KM Products in Use

KM / Web 2.0 Requirement Blogging

Product Used Sharepoint / Wordpress / Enterprise version of Wordpress

Wiki Search

Confluence Sharepoint search, Apache SOLR

Social bookmarking / tagging Reporting / metrics

Custom built Custom built / Product provided

Both the mangers were not stuck with any specific technology or product, escaping the traditional trap of being stuck with the technical aspects of KM or Web 2.0 (see section 2.4 and section 2.5.7).


4.2.4 Web 2.0 and unanticipated benefits

According to the interviewees, Web 2.0 implementation has led to benefits that were not planned and were quite completely unanticipated (Ranganath, 2009a). Some of them are: ‘Stronger employee engagement’: In larger organizations, newcomers may not feel appreciated. Through participation and contribution to web 2.0 initiatives like blogs, discussion forums and social bookmarking, such employees can feel a stronger affiliation and a sense of recognition. Similarly, the author observed talent groups like photography group, trekking communities and open source evangelists participating, blogging and engaging with each other which bolstered the feeling of being a part of the ‗family‘. CSR Initiatives: In one of the organizations, a community of employees was formed on the blog platform, working towards giving back to community. Such an effective usage of the platform was well-received and was provided with funding and adoption as the corporate CSR program.

4.2.5 Summary of Interviews

The main objective of the interviews were to get a management perspective on Knowledge Management and Web 2.0 and to address the gaps identified in the survey 123

questionnaire. The gaps were quite clearly addressed through these interviews. Apart from the gaps, a few important observations came to the fore:

The senior managers are aware of the employees‘ concern that KM is disguised to extract knowledge to make them redundant. This concern is being addressed through educating and proving the value of using KM and Web 2.0 as productivity tools. From the interviews, it is clear that Senior Managers are aware of the contribution-consumption problem where experts don‘t contribute due to lack of audience and people don‘t use a system due to lack of quality articles. Web 2.0 can be used successfully to surmount the passive consumption through the usage of blogs for more active participation since it is capable of even engaging with the ‗long-tail‘ topics and communicating to micro-audience (Anderson, 2004). By regularly communicating the importance of the contributions via senior management blogs and emails, organizations have started to address the motivational needs of employees. A unique thought was introduction of a ‗frequent-contributor‘ points that can be redeemed for various goodies. 124

Within the organizations, Web 2.0 is being introduced as a pilot and with a strategic intent. In most cases, clear objectives and policies exist for the introduction of Web 2.0 applications. However, the underlying framework is kept flexible to introduce new tools. Clearly, the introduction of Web 2.0 is considered strategic and does not follow the bottom-up approach as suggested by Chiu et al., (2008).

However, usage of a particular tool is still bottom-up. For example, the decision of introducing a blogs in an organization is strategic. But, the decision to contribute, read and comment on others‘ blogs is still a decision by the employees. So, the quality of the whole system can improve only with participation and that cannot be easily mandated. Such a deployment model follows the concept of emergence (section 2.5.2) which is about managing and orchestrating self-managed groups for innovations and creative solutions.

The focus seems to be on leveraging the tags and linking it to search technology to provide more relevant results to the users. Tags are being used as metadata and the provided as an input to the search system as a ‗usergenerated metadata‘. By leveraging user-generated tags,


the search results are being optimized to provide a better contextual result for the employees.

Finally, KM managers see Web 2.0 as an enabler in the process of Knowledge management. Some of the tools fit into the process of capturing knowledge and helping in sharing. However, Knowledge Management is seen as a much bigger than just the Web 2.0 philosophy of user-generated content and collaboration. It is seen as alignment of knowledge activities towards satisfying the business goals. These business goals vary from one organization to another and so does the implementation of the Knowledge Management program. Putting it all together – a case study


Following is the case study of an effective KM implementation that leverages the Web 2.0 technologies and concepts to derive a better usage and robust sharing of knowledge. The case is representative of an IT services organization that has a very large development center presence in India.


Case Study : Implementation of Web 2.0 based KM System About Cognizant Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation provides information technology (IT) consulting and technology services, as well as outsourcing services in North America, Europe, and Asia. It has over 64,000 full-time employees (Yahoo, 2009). Cognizant is global company with significant presence in markets like North America and Europe and development centers in India and China. (Cognizant, 2009) The problem Cognizant has over 64,000 people and growing rapidly. Knowledge Management was essential to ensure quick assimilation of newcomers apart from “getting knowledge to consultants when they need it” (Akshay, 2009a). According to the Chief Knowledge Office, Sukumar Rajagopal, Knowledge Management has two aspects – contribution and consumption. In the traditional 127

model, „1% rule applied‟ since the focus was on contribution. According to this rule, "if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will „interact‟ with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it". (Arthur, 2006) Due to low consumption as well as difficulty in documenting expert knowledge, the effectiveness of traditional portal based KM systems was low. Such systems catered only to the “know-how” need of KM and could not satisfy the “know-who” requirement necessary in a large organization. The solution Increase participation Instead of addressing the contribution problem, Cognizant started by addressing the consumption aspect. Web 2.0 was introduced to build a culture of participation. Blogs were introduced with a single corporate policy that essentially asked users not to write anything that could harm or hurt the organization or individuals. Bloggers started to contribute with topics ranging from technological trends to sharing their 128

hobbies. With average age of employees being mid-20s, the adoption was easier due to their exposure to the technologies. Contributors and consumers were constantly encouraged through non-financial rewards ranging from special recognition on the Senior Management‟s blogs as well as redeemable points, similar to „frequent flier‟ programs. These points could be exchanged for Cognizant branded goodies. Frequent training, awareness weeks and unconferences were held to connect people face-to-face to increase awareness and usage (Monahan, 2007). Web 2.0 was adopted as a combination of top-down and grassroots approach. However, the overall adoption for the organization was a strategic decision. Router Model of KM The Router Model of KM is “based on a distributed architecture where knowledge is not necessarily in one central knowledge repository”. Instead of having a centralized repository, search technology is used to 129

connect the various data sources. A single centralized repository is difficult to manage (Dusun and Suliman, 2009). A federated system, based on loose integration would be successful, if the data dictionaries are kept up-to-date. (p143). Towards this end, the search indexing occurs daily at Cognizant to keep the data dictionaries updated. Thus, with a combination of various technologies, user generated content and external content is made available, either as a „pull‟ like search or as a „push‟ via RSS feeds to the employees. To ensure better searchability, Cognizant is working on building a controlled vocabulary that can be used for tagging. However, flexibility is provided to users who can request for new words to be added. Such requests are vetted and approved by a centralized team to maintain integrity of the vocabulary. Measuring RoI According to Cognizant, KM has an unlimited RoI. However, to measure the success of a tool deployment, 130

two relatively simple metrics have been used – reach and frequency. The reach metric is a measure of how many employees are reading the contribution while the frequency metric is a measure of how many people are contributing and how often do they make the contributions. These metrics are used to ensure that the performance is better than the 1% rule. According to internal reports, the 1% rule has been broken almost since the inception of the program and usage has been quite high and proved very effective. Conclusion The purpose of the case study was to help analyze if the research findings from the survey and interviews were practical in a real world scenario. The case study was also used to identify solutions to some of the issues raised in the research. The primary concern with Knowledge Management initiative was identified as alignment of business objectives with the KM effort. In Cognizant, this


objective was summarized as “getting knowledge to consultants when they need it”. The subsequent issue is that of participation both

due to a lack of motivation and incentive, as well as the Indian culture of passive consumption. Through the deployment of blogs and a very open policy on content, Cognizant ensured that employees started to experiment with the new platform and finally started to participate in the blogosphere. With „paternalistic‟ senior managers acting as role models, the adoption was easier for rest of employees. Trust was built into the system through a mechanism not allowing anonymous access combined with a simple policy of requesting users to not write ill about organization or other employees. The simplicity itself added to a better adoption. Watching a senior manager „walk-the-talk‟ also helped to bring in more contributors. Blogs and tagging helped in the „know-who‟ aspect as well. For example, looking for expert on a specific topic was about identifying a person blogging passionately on the topic and seeking the expert‟s help, as postulated 132

by Gronovetter (1973).

Similarly, new employees could

be assimilated easily by allowing them to blog which were read and commented by other employees – thus making the new hires a part of family. Senior management‟s role in strategically identifying the tools and deployment of the technology ensured that the business objectives were monitored and adherence was tracked. Due a one or more managers‟ active participation and demonstration of the Web 2.0 capability, buy-in from top-management must have been easier. However, this is a conjecture by the author and not a finding of the research. The final point about ensuring a federated search through a „spoke-and-hub‟ model of Knowledge Management clearly indicates that Web 2.0 is just one part of the entire spectrum of Knowledge Management. Another essential ingredient is a powerful search that can index and return results from multiple data-sources in a seamless fashion.




Based on the research and the case study above, many best practices came forth. The interviews with the managers also helped identify a thought process that has generally yielded a good KM system that is robust to accommodate new technologies like Web 2.0 and ensure relevancy to end users. The first section is a discussion on the best practices and the next section develops the generic thought process into a formal model that can be explored in future research.

4.4.1 Best Practices based on Research

Based on the research and the case study above and the rest of the research, some of the best practices that were observed in organizations with an effective Web 2.0 based KM programs are:

Piloting an implementation: Rather than launch a Web 2.0 initiative at organizational level, pilot a solution or tool and measure participation. Such experimentation itself is a sign of a learning organization (section 2.2). Sukumar mentioned that Web 2.0 initiatives are introduced as ‗pilot with a strategic intent‘ (Ranganath, 2009a and section 4.2.5).

Focus on addressing the consumption problem: Rather than solving the 1% problem, try to get more participation by 134

encouraging users to start by reading. The increased audience acts as a motivation for contributors leading to higher contribution and a virtuous cycle is setup.

Active user participation is a hallmark of Web 2.0 (Levy, 2009). Senior Managers can engage with participants by networking, challenging, questioning, listening to the feedback and celebrating the successes of communities (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009)

Build a flexible IT architecture which is capable of integrating various tools and applications.

Chiu et al. (2009) identified that a Web 2.0 initiative can succeed when it gets integrated to existing processes. Such processes may use various tools and an integration with those tools would ensure a faster adoption (section 4.1.3). Web 2.0 is an ideal choice for such a use since most of web 2.0 tools ‗a relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and do not necessarily require complex technology integration‘ (p2).

Make everything searchable so that instead of just knowledge documents, search returns relevant information regarding employees, work projects and tags. 135

Anderson (2005) writing about collaboration said that making ‗everything searchable‘ would ensure a higher adoption. Dursun and Suliman (2009) as noted in section 2.5.8 too suggest a ‗holistic platform‘ that can be accessed, indexed and searched so that content is easily accessible to all users.

Do not allow anonymity in access. This should prevent any potential misuse. This simple step generally assuages the management concern of losing control (identified in section 2.4) since user activity can be audited and tracked, in case of any misuse.

Web 2.0 technologies can allow any user to add or edit content. This could result in potential organizational issues identified in section 2.5.7. However, shutting out Web 2.0 systems from an organization would just encourage users to collaborate outside the organization (Payne, 2008). Hence, deploying the Web 2.0 tools within an organization with no anonymous access has been found to provide a sense of responsibility and traceability required in an enterprise (Ranganath, 2009a).

Have a simple policy of usage. Essentially, it should mention that writing anything that is defamatory against an individual or organization is unacceptable. When information 136

is taken from another source, the source should be mentioned clearly. Apart from this, users should have freedom of usage. This was the policy used at cognizant, as seen in the case study above. Lead by example: Indians generally respond well to mentoring and entrepreneurial leaders. Hence, leading by example and participating by blogging regularly or commenting acts as a great motivator.

Leaders can act as change catalysts from a topdown to bottom-up culture (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009). Indians tend to respond well to paternalistic leaders (section 2.6) Leaders who can participate and walk-the-talk in using KM processes are also seen to build better learning organizations (section 2.2).

Encourage participants: Identify early leaders and adopters of new technology and leverage their reach to further increase participation. For example, ‗blog memes‘ (The Daily Meme, 2009) were used effectively to introduce new ideas and spread awareness in Cognizant (Ranganath, 2009a). Chui, et al., (2009) suggest a similar approach of


leveraging the early adopters for driving the self-sustaining effort of Web 2.0 adoption and usage.

4.4.2 Web 2.0 based KM system - Implementation framework

Based on the theory and the above research, it is clear that trust in the organization and trust within the superiors and the colleagues is the bedrock on which knowledge sharing can occur (see Web 2.0 best practices, section 2.5.8). Without building such a framework of trust, knowledge management effort is bound to fail. To build the trust, active participation of senior managers who adopt Web 2.0 technologies is seen quite imperative. This participation – both as active contributor (writing blogs) or as an audience (providing feedback comments) helps build trust which ensures better adoption (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009).

The next step is to build a culture of participation. KM succeeds through the virtuous cycle of consumption encouraging more content contribution (Ranganath, 2009a and section 4.3). Without this self-sustaining loop, contributions will either have to be forced or is seen as an effort apart from regular work. Various avenues for contribution will have to be created. 138

Integrating the tool into an existing workflow would ensure quicker adoption (Chiu, et al., 2009) Encouraging participation by

newsletters or senior management blog posts can also help motivate employees towards better participation (see section 4.2.3). Non-monetary rewards like ‗frequent-flier points‘ too could be used to bring about a higher adoption (see case study).

The third step in the process is to pilot a tool and measure the participation. Piloting will provide an idea of whether a particular tool will ‗fit‘ the organization (Ranganath, 2009a). For example, introducing blogs to a small organization may be ineffective as the ‗long tail‘ phenomenon of engaging with microaudience does not exist (Anderson, 2005). However, collaboration by using Wiki could provide much more value in such organizations. As there is no one right solution, organizations should pilot a tool and decide if it meets the organizational strategy along with requisite interest and participation. Once it meets these requirements, the tools can be rolled out to the organization. Letting individual business units to pilot tools and measure its adoption over time is also a good strategy before rolling out to the organization (Ranganath, 2009a & Chiu, et al., 2009). Any tool that shows a promise and aligns to the business goals of an organization must be scaled up and deployed across the organization. 139

Figure 35 Implementation strategy: Web 2.0 aided KM

Finally, any implementation or tool must expose an interface for search (Suliman and Dursan, 2009). Interfacing with search platform is necessary to ensure that the information created on the new tool is also available to users via search (Anderson, 2005 and Ranganath, 2009a).

In the existing literature on Knowledge Management and Web 2.0, the importance of a search technology has not been highlighted. However, as demonstrated in the case study, real organizations have multiple systems that act as repositories of knowledge and unless they can be tied together they would exist as silos and effectiveness of KM programs will reduce. Identifying mechanism for implementing such an interface and defining the taxonomy for such a search is an area for further research.


Figure 35 summarizes the points discussed as an implementation framework that explains a KM implementation that is aided by Web 2.0 concepts and tools. The first step is building a organizational trust and a culture of participation. This is followed by a pilot implementation of a tool that is monitored against the organizational metric that a tool is supposed to aid. Based on the outcome, a decision is made to go-ahead or to stop the effort. If a pilot implementation measures to the organizational goals, it is rolled out to the organization. Any implementation is designed with an interface to search platform to ensure that data generated is easily accessible.

For example, an organization may be planning to build a better ‗know-who‘ culture. It could start with a pilot implementation of blogs. This would play a dual role of first increasing the participation (as shown in Case Study) as well as building a culture open to sharing. An organizational benchmark could be reduced ‗do you know who can help‘ type emails on discussion forums and a subsequent metric could be turn-around time for an issue-resolution within an IT organization. The pilot could be in a team that is typically customer facing, for example, the sales marketing and product teams. Based on success obtained, the effort could be rolled out to the rest of organization. 141



According to this research, Web 2.0 is seen as a complement to Knowledge management (paragraph 1, p 116) as well as an effective mechanism to increase user participation (p 120) and interest in the knowledge management initiative . The trend seems to point out that the adoption of Web 2.0 technology will grow further (paragraph 1, p 163). Social networking and tagging (paragraph 3, p 125) within the work context are two technologies that would gain importance. Few other observations from the research are:

Knowledge management is seen as an important aspect (paragraph 2, p 112) for the success of an organization (paragraph 2, p 19). However, an investment in enterprise knowledge management is seen useful only in mid-sized to larger organizations (more than 1000 employees) Both employees (p 108) and management (paragraph 1, p 113) feel that knowledge sharing can be made better. Suspicion and lack of motivation are two primary reasons for employees to not share knowledge. Management

understands this problem and is also aware of the underlying suspicion of employees towards KM. This can be mitigated through clear communication (paragraph 3, p 124) and active participation (paragraph 3, p 120) of the 142

senior managers in various forums like blogs, emails and ‗unconferences‘ (paragraph 2, p120). The challenge in encouraging experts (paragraph 3, p 113) to contribute can be addressed by providing ownership (paragraph 2, p 47) of communities in Web 2.0 forums. Active participation (paragraph 1, p 132) by Senior Managers and encouragement in the form of 'walking the talk' is seen to motivate more employees. Indian national culture (paragraph 2, p 69) too points towards mentoring (paragraph 1, p 71) as a favored way of change management. Capturing the ‗know-who‘ (paragraph 3, p 115) is found to be quite important (paragraph 2, p 117) aspect that is not easily possible in the KM tools. Web 2.0 technologies like tagging (paragraph 3, p 50) and social networking (paragraph 2, p 51) is found to cover (paragraph 3, p 125) this gap. Web 2.0 is seen as an enabler (paragraph 2, pp 109-110) in improving the contribution (paragraph 3, pp 127-128) by users. Its inherent approach of openness helps in building trust (paragraph 3, p 64) and collaboration (paragraph 1, p 128).


However, Web 2.0 tools are seen as an aid (paragraph 2, p 57) to the Knowledge Management process. The field of Knowledge Management is considered bigger (paragraph 1, p 126) than just Web 2.0. Thus, Web 2.0 is seen more a complement (paragraph 1, p 116) to KM and not a replacement to it.

Technology is not seen as a challenge (paragraph 2, p 105) to introduction of Web 2.0 tools. This could be due to the technical nature of business in most of the surveyed organizations and a maturity in understanding (paragraph 3, p 122) Web 2.0 concepts (paragraph 2, p 143). Web 2.0 initiatives are sometimes run as pilots (paragraph 1, p 125) within small divisions within the organization. These initiatives are then introduced to the organization after a strategic decision (paragraph 2, p 129) making process. Thus, Web 2.0 adoption is a combination of topdown and bottom-up approach. The bottom-up adoption and improvements possible during the pilot and post implementation is used to further refine the systems. However, the task of identifying (paragraph 1, p 133) a tool that fits an organizational requirement is still strategic and decided by the top management.


The research was not able to conclusively answer the question on how employees learn the Web 2.0 technologies.

On the whole, the research was able to answer almost all the objectives. Web 2.0 is generally perceived as a positive development both for fostering better collaboration and participation. Web 2.0 is seen as aiding in Knowledge Management from the perspective of Indian IT organizations.



The research was carried out for the scholarly purpose. The limitations of this research were:

The sample size was limited due to the resources available for analyzing the responses. A larger sample size spread across more organizations would have been appropriate. Most of the participating organizations have been in existence for 10 or more years and most of the participants have 6 or more years of experience. Perspective from a younger audience or a younger organization could be different. This needs to be examined since they are the generation more exposed to the Web


2.0 technologies. Patterns of sharing and collaboration may differ with such an audience. Organizations that were dissatisfied with Web 2.0 or organizations not planning to use Web 2.0 were not explored. Concerns and implementation difficulties in such organizations could help identify pain points and issues that have not been addressed in this research. All the organizations examined were from the IT services sector. Other organizations needs to be examined for a holistic picture on Web 2.0 and KM adoption in India. On hindsight, the questionnaire was too lengthy. Many questions were too focused on organizational culture that participants may not answer openly and was not even necessary considering the scope of the dissertation.



The importance of search technology was not initially observed by the author. However, during the research, it became apparent that Web 2.0 and KM will tend to be a combination of multiple tools. A scalable search platform is gaining in importance. The importance of search technologies and its impact on Web 2.0 based KM is an area for further exploration. Search technologies could also leverage the tagging functionality. Impact of such tagging based KM is an area for future research. 146

India has been undergoing a rapid growth. The growth of offshore-development centers and R&D facilities of many IT companies have exposed Indian workforce to other work cultures. Such employees may not be aligned to the traditional national culture of India. An impact such a change and trends of culture across less-developed and more-developed parts of India could be undertaken.




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9 9.1

APPENDIX Semi-structured Interview Questionnaire

1. You have had extensive experience with Knowledge Management. From your opinion, what were the pain points with a KM strategy and implementation, if any? 2. What were the systems used for managing knowledge prior to the introduction of Web 2.0? 3. In your opinion, do the Web 2.0 philosophy and technology fit into the KM practice? Do they even mesh or are they complete separate things? 4. Web 2.0 is supposed to be about ‗wisdom of crowds‘ and tapping the ‗collective intelligence‘. Do you believe that KM systems earlier did not fulfill this role? 5. How did Web 2.0 enter into your organization? Was it introduced as a strategy in a top-down manner or was it adopted in some units and then expanded to broader audience? 6. Web 2.0 is generally considered to be a mixture of following. Which do you think will play a role in KM strategy in the near future (1-3 years): a. Blogs b. Wikis c. RSS d. Social Networking e. Podcasts f. Tagging / Social bookmarking g. Shared workspaces h. Web services 7. With respect to Indians and the Indian culture, do you see anything specific that: a. Helps in knowledge management? b. Hampers in knowledge management? 8. For a small IT organization in India, investing in KM may not appeal. In the typical cost/benefit analysis, short term could win over the long term KM efforts. a. How would you justify the RoI for a KM program?


b. Does Web 2.0 tools (being free) help in this analysis in any way? c. How would you define RoI for Web 2.0 programs? 9. What are the typical risks & challenges in using Web 2.0 at an organizational level? What according to you could help in mitigating these risks? 10. What do you feel should be the focus of top management while introducing Web 2.0 as a knowledge sharing system? 11. Cognizant 2.0 and ChannelOne – please can you tell the story of how they were planned and introduced? 12. The challenges with these systems – especially moving towards an open system where people could write potentially write anything.



Questionnaire with summarized responses

Attached is the questionnaire survey and responses. The extract below is the aggregated response, which may consist of partially completed surveys.