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Prof.S.L.GUPTA Dr. V.K. Kohli

Department of Management Senior Project Officer
Kurukshetra University All India Council for
Technical Education
Kurukshetra ,Haryana (India) New Delhi, India
Ph. 9896253953, 01744-238847 (R) E-mail:
Ph: 9810854058 (M)
011-23392563-65, Extn. 216


Knowledge management is the need of corporate for excellence. increasingly, ability of

an organization to compete in the global village is defined by its ability to manage its
knowledge and knowledge workers. It is most apparent in knowledge-intensive industries
such as software, biotechnology, consultancy and pharmaceuticals. However, knowledge
management has become an important issue in all type of organizations and industries. It
is being said that only those organizations that are able to create a culture for knowledge
management will survive and grow. It is in this context that this study was designed to
examine and understand some of the problems being experienced in implementing
knowledge management systems in Indian organizations. Further, the study also focused
on identifying what needs to be done to manage and institutionalize knowledge
management processes and to create organizational culture for managing and motivating
knowledge workers. In the first part of the paper we start with the discussion about
context of knowledge organizations and how knowledge facilitates improving
performance of traditional as well as knowledge organizations. The paper examines some
barriers to knowledge management as experienced in a few Indian organizations that

have implemented knowledge management systems. In the second part of the paper, we
discuss organizational systems and processes, which can facilitate knowledge generation
and Knowledge sharing processes. In the last part of the paper , we discuss unique
characteristics of knowledge workers and their concepts –of-self for excellence . Further,
we examine how to attract, retain and motivate superior knowledge workers, involve
them in defining knowledge needs and facilitate teamwork and cross-functional
involvement in knowledge management projects and processes for the corporate


The conceptual literature does not clearly distinguish between organizational learning,
knowledge acquisition, and knowledge creation within or for organizations. Though differences
could be elaborated upon, we will follow tradition and use these terms as they relate to the
acquisition of information, the test of the relevance of the information , and the way in which
information that is perceived to be relevant is converted into knowledge , made available in the
organization, and used by organizational members. There is no simple definition of knowledge
that captures all the nuances of knowledge and its management in the context of organizations.
Researchers/management scholars have provided a variety of definitions based on the issues
examined, and the focus of arguments developed. One definition of knowledge, although quite
unwieldy, attempts to be all-inclusive : “Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experiences, values,
contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and
incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the minds of
knower. In organizations, it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories but
also in organizational routines, processes, practices and norms”. Despite this rather complex
definition, it is possible for us to discuss issues related to knowledge management in
organizations, if we concentrate on aspects that have a more direct impact on knowledge
management initiatives and their influence on organizational effectiveness.

To understand the intraorganisational processes of knowledge generation, it is important

to look back to the cultural and structural devices as well as the role of visions and leadership in
the process. Several questions arise beyond those raised above: whose knowledge is relevant for
specific decision-making situations , problem solving, and the exploration of strategic options?
How is relevance to be defined? How does one tap into knowledge that may exist among
organizational members but that has not been used as a knowledge base for organization
because it was regarded as irrelevant or even as part of the private sphere of organizational
members? How can members of the organization be encouraged to contribute knowledge
perceived by them to be relevant for the organization? How can key decision-makers avoid
becoming overburdened with information of little or of no relevance to the decisions, problems,
or strategic options under consideration ? Even more important and more difficult research
focuses on the question of how to ensure the sharing of knowledge at an interorganisational level
. How do strategic alliances allow for a transfer of relevant knowledge? What kind of role do
international joint ventures play in this context? Are expatriates an important ,but still
underutilized ,source of knowledge in the organization? What kind of network device is

appropriate to ensure undistorted and effective sharing of knowledge between organization ?
How much cultural similarity is necessary for such sharing? Are there available structural
devices that have proved productive in the exchange of knowledge between organization ? In this
context, the role of boundary-spanning personnel ,boards , and job rotation among organizations
are again some of the structural and procedural devices to be examined from the point of view of
interorganisational knowledge transfers. The more important mergers, acquisitions, and strategic
alliances, become, the more central, these questions of ways and means are , and the more
relevant their effectiveness at transferring knowledge among organizations . Quite important in
this context is again the distinction between knowledge and information. What can be considered
knowledge in one organization may just be information in another , for the two contexts may be
completely different because of markets, cultures, and technologies that distinguish the



In this article we have experienced with some of the companies to know the
knowledge management systems , structures , and procedures and problems, barriers etc. We
have also observed about the knowledge workers and their characteristics and contribution for
the corporate excellence and how to retain the knowledge workers in the knowledge
organization. In the present competitive scenario no organization can think to survive or grow
with the proper knowledge management system. Creating the learning environment is the major
issue in the knowledge management . Second major issue is how to retain knowledge workers
and how to overcome on the barriers of knowledge management . In this process we have
experienced with the some of the companies related to different field like IT, Pharma, Fast
moving Products etc and on the basis of the observation analyzed the basic problems and finally
suggested some recommendation to retain the knowledge workers.


Since its inception, Wipro Infotech, with its open culture, has believed in cultivating
knowledge and with its business expanding, it has become all the more critical to get knowledge
intensive, and implement an enterprise wide KM system. Since there is no accepted standard
framework for KM, Wipro Infotech has evolved a framework in accordance with its needs, to
achieve its business vision. It has been designed to build on the existing efforts in the
organization and enhance the culture of knowledge sharing and utilisation. To build and sustain
a KM system, a cultural change in the propensity to share knowledge is fundamental, which is
the most difficult part of knowledge management. An organization should be able to induce the
requisite behavioural change among people who are the contributors and users of knowledge. It
requires strong leadership to bring in cultural changes, set the right direction, and continuously
monitor progress. Using appropriate rewards and recognition programmes is also necessary.
This framework encourages both bottom-up and top-down approaches to accelerate the culture

Knowledge Management in Wipro Infotech has three objectives.

 Mature the organization to a competency based and knowledge driven organization.
 Enable new technology/practices adoption for diversification and growth.
 Develop competency extension framework to create new business opportinuties.

The Wipro Infotech KM framework has three main frameworks .

 Learning ,
 KEEP (Knowledge Enhancement, Extraction and Practice)
 CARE (Competency Augmentation with Research Excellence).

Learning ensures that people build their competency using a mix of tools and processes
like E-learning, competency assessment and competency development through
specialized training and personalized instruction. Learning is based on the competency
model which consists of followings (1) Competency definition (2) Evaluation of current
competency for existing technology(3) Evaluation after developing the competency on
newer technology. Competency definitions based on proficiency and criticality exist for
technical roles. Online evaluation and assessment is used to identify current competency
levels. E-learning and Instructor Lead Training (ILT) are extensively used to bridge the
gaps. E-learning includes workshops, online mentoring and contact sessions to ensure
complete learning.

Through the KEEP (Knowledge Extraction, Enhancement and Practice) initiative, they
ensure collection of disparate knowledge and expertise within the organization into a central
repository. The knowledge is supplemented by gathering additional information from various
external resources. The four pillars of KEEP are taxonomy (a uniform structure through which
knowledge can be stored and accessed) IT enablers, practice based offering and knowledge


Through CARE (Competency Augmentation through Research and Excellence), they

leverage on the expertise and knowledge built up in the organization to come up with innovative
products and services. They inculcate creative thinking within Wipro Infotech that capitalizes
on people competency and expertise, supplementing it with a technology tracking activity,
resulting in higher intellectual property. This is done by facilitating a technology roadmap
creation for various business divisions, using external research resources and internal
intelligence. This is supplemented by a well-defined process for innovation that taps
organisational creativity, and funnels it into a rigorous engine that brings virtual teams together
under an exclusive sponsor, to take the idea forward. The organization provides a Centre of
Excellence, Terra Nova, to try these new technologies, services and products for customer
effective solutions.

Effects of Knowledge Management system in Wipro infotech

Wipro Infotech Services division decided to collect trouble shooting knowledge from
engineers through emails, categories it according to technical product line and make it accessible
through the web. It built thousands of technical tips and FAQ (frequently asked questions) over
a period of more than three years. Using this knowledge base, engineers were able to reduce the
problem resolution time. A Learning team and a KEEP team were then formed from the existing
workforce. The KM initiative began with an awareness programme conducted across Wipro
Infotech, explaining the importance of KM at all levels. Before the KM initiative, technical
training was provided on the basis of the requirement of individual divisions, mostly through
instructor lead class room programmes. The KM Learning team worked out a common
framework of Access, Identify and Build, for the whole of Wipro Infotech. Today technical
training is based on the centrally controlled competency model rather than division requirement.
Recently, an E-learning approach with the online portal Wisdom@Wipro was introduced,
providing the learning resources, and this is reducing the training cost and increasing flexibility.
Competencies of all the employees are available and the competency map acts as a guiding force
for competency development.

The KEEP initiative started with the knowledge need identification workshop conducted
for business units, wherein groups of people performed an exercise and identified the critical
knowledge needs of their businesses. The seeds of an enterprise wide KM system were sown.
Road maps for individual business units were also drawn. Templates were created and used as
knowledge capturing mechanisms. Based on the initial study, the KEEP framework, unique to
Wipro Infotech, was evolved. Using the existing IT infrastructure and network, a web based KM
repository was introduced to store knowledge and enable people to have quick access.
Essentially, KM is about accessing expertise and enabling people reach experts from distant
places with ease. Managing organizational expertise through an expert system that enables the
right knowledge at the right time by connecting the knowledge need to the knowledge node is
valuable for KM. Channels were established for knowledge collection, through which
contributions from people started coming. (Generally, knowledge sharing is easier through
informal chats rather than formal rules. Efforts should be made to identify as many informal
channels as possible and make them part of the KM strategy.) Right at the beginning a
taxonomy was created to store and access the content in a standard way across the business units.
(Evolving a standard and a stable taxonomy takes years of experience. Companies that have
failed to do so right at the beginning have run into difficulty later as maintaining thousands of
folders becomes a nightmare.) All employees were able to access the knowledge repository
using their desktops and laptops. Top items of the knowledge repository were packaged and
disseminated for immediate consumption a frequent basis. The ‘Saint of the Month’ and ‘Miner
of the Month’ programme has made a great impact. People who have contributed the most are
recognised as Saints and those who use knowledge the most are recognized as Miners. More
than the tangible value of gifts given to people, is the personal satisfaction that this brings to
people. So far we have seen a kind of a cultural transformation taking place within Wipro
Infotech, and KM being accepted as vital work enabler, and the flow of knowledge collection
and dissemination has started. Knowledge Management is not an end but a journey in itself. As
they progress, the need for an advanced KM system is felt, and this is being evolved using the IT
and e-business consulting expertise available within the organization. The blueprint of a full

fledged KM system is in the pipeline. This system will capture and reuse both explicit and tacit
knowledge. Identification of best practices in the field, a system of measurement and adequate
security to protect knowledge are also essential. To monitor and improve the effectiveness of
KM, a pilot measurement is also being started. The CARE initiative, which is the highest in the
chain, is still in its infancy and there is a growing awareness about its importance. But due to the
environmental pressures, the divisions are moving slowly. Even though the debate on knowledge
management goes on, as to whether knowledge can be managed, Wipro Infotech has accepted
the challenge on KM, and is driving hard to become a knowledge intensive organization. They
have seen initial success in our approach and have derived benefits by deploying channels and
technologies at a synchronized speed with people involvement at the grass root level.


In seeking to achieve its corporate purpose of meeting the everyday needs of people
everywhere, Hindustan Lever (HLL) seeks to derive its sustainable competitive advantage
from what it ‘collectively knows’, how efficiently it uses what it knows and how readily it
acquires and uses new knowledge. In short, by becoming a knowledge driven organistion.
‘Knowledge’ is the key asset of the company. A structured approach to knowledge
management (KM), through focus on knowledge creation, validation and sharing will increase
organizational capability for growth. HLL is therefore committed to creating systematic ways
to manage organizational knowledge. A key element of such an approach is stress on
knowledge sharing which can convert individual expertise, skills, experience and insights into
organizational knowledge. While KM seems largely commonsensical, it requires considerable
planning and organising to effectively utilize its many initiatives. Such initiatives include
culture change initiatives, knowledge mapping and structuring techniques and processes, and
information technology.



 Building communities of practice (CoP): A CoP is a team of practitioners

of a knowledge domain who come together to capture, create and share relevant
knowledge and improve the effectiveness of solutions offered. Such a team will
also focus on developing best practices, creating and maintaining knowledge
repositories and developing and delivering relevant training programmes to build
the capability in the knowledge domain.

 IT interventions : Fundamentally, IT supports KM in two ways. Firstly by

connecting people to people, by providing ‘collaboration tools’ – which ideally
are built on existing e-mail, Internet and intranet systems. It systems also help the
organization to connect people to people in virtual communities by providing
them a dialogue space for conversations. Secondly, by connecting people to
information and knowledge through knowledge portals, which contain knowledge
repositories and codified best practices. Indeed, IT is a key enable for
identification, codification and sharing of knowledge.

 Culture Change Initiatives: The company’s ability to effectively use
‘knowledge’ depends on how enthusiastic people are about sharing it. Leveraging
knowledge is possible only when people attach value to building on each others
ideas and sharing their insights. Much of this is shaped by the culture of the
organization. Our experience suggests that some of the ways to create such a
knowledge sharing culture would include :

 A system of reward and recognition for collaborative team effort,

training and performance development practices – activities that
reinforce the discipline of sharing and documenting knowledge to achieve
business goals.

 Signalling the change to emphasise the core values of the company

which underpin knowledge sharing and winning culture. A common
set of shared values is found to be critical to guide the relationship within the
company that wants pro-active knowledge sharing.

 Knowledge strategies that encompass learning initiatives. KM cannot

be practiced with out a clear focus on ‘learning’ within the organization since
learning and knowledge are interlinked.

 Key competencies linked to knowledge development and sharing

need to be nurtured and developed. These include: learning from
experience, where people are actively encouraged to search for new ideas, show
willingness to discuss successes and failures and be more open to feedback on
lessons learnt; developing others through commitment to shared insights as well
as coaching; and promoting team commitment which is based on co-operation and
trust, open and active participation in team projects including cross-functional
teams, and communities of practice.

Packaging in HLL is very important for providing protection to the product in transit and
storage as well as its contribution to pack presentation/brand image. Total packaging cost is very
significant. Packaging professionals work very closely with different product categories. The
challenge is to deliver packaging and operational excellence right across all categories. The task
is to ensure that the collective knowledge of the packaging community irrespective of the
category to which they are linked, is fully leveraged for maximum, collective value addition. The
packaging team formed a knowledge community consisting of the packaging developing
managers and officers and packaging buyers of various businesses in the company. Some of the
key suppliers were also invited to be part of the community. This community developed a
charter. The charter included areas for improving speed and quality of innovations, identifying
opportunities for technology-led cost effectiveness and creating processes for achieving
packaging synergy through harmonization, exchange of best proven practices and cross-category
transfer of key insights obtained. The community is very focused on learning, sharing and
effective implementation of its charter. Knowledge is shared in a structured way with each team
member wearing two ‘hats’ – one of the business / category unit and the other of packaging. The

community meets periodically to share knowledge in a structured way and monitors progress on
implementation of the charter. This has enabled systematic implementation of packaging
innovation projects and preparation of best practice documents. The following approaches have
been adopted:

 Clarification of business objectives from the business team, understanding the

packaging skills chain and improving appreciation of consumer needs through
participation in ‘consumer clinics.’
 The team effectively networks within HLL, as well as globally within Unilever.
 The team identifies well-defined knowledge blocks in the packaging area and
appoints sub-teams to specialize/lead in each of the knowledge blocks.
 The packaging community organizes ‘knowledge workshops’ to generate new ideas
and opportunities. It focuses on capability building through continuous skill-
mapping, gap analysis and need based training.
 The team has developed an intranet application with collaboration tools.

The case of the packaging community demonstrates that KM is essentially a process to

increase the capacity for energetic and focused action, by connecting people to people and
people to knowledge; that KM facilitates capability building; it raises the floor, raises the ceiling;
that it promotes a culture of faster transfer of best proven practices and insights; and that an
organized KM process reduces the scope for ‘reinventing the wheel’.


Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is a fully integrated pharmaceutical company with businesses

ranging from bulk actives (the active ingredient that goes into the manufacture of formulations
such as tablets), one of the older businesses, to drug discovery. After a recent reorganization the
company has been separated into SBUs reporting to the corporate centre. A key driver for
growth in the near future is the Generics SBU, which manufactures and markets therapeutically
equivalent versions of older patent expired products in the US and Europe. Given the linkages
between the SBUs, particularly the bulk actives and generics SBUs, and the need for knowledge
flow as well as shared decision making, a number of corporate for a and process were created to
facilitate shared decision making on the basis of priorities and objectives set for the different
SBUs by the corporate center. The New Product Development and commercialization process
within the SBUs was not only seen as key to the attainment of the objectives of the respective
SBUs but with the potential for decision making in this area to spill over and impact New
Product Performance in SBUs with downstream activities. The corporate business development
function was given the responsibility of establishing best practices in the area of New Product
Development and coordinating strategy for product selection and development across SBUs.
The problem was approached with the understanding that it was largely a KM issue. It was clear
from the outset that the problem did not lend itself to easy simplification and the interventions
would have to be addressed at several levels, including the need for bringing about significant
behavioural change among senior managers. a first priority was to establish systems and
procedures that, while bringing about the requisite knowledge sharing and coordination, would
not be resented by the SBUs or become extremely slow and bureaucratic. It was clear that the

primary responsibility and accountability for innovation would lie with the SBU managers.
corporate intervention would be more the exception than the rule. On the other hand staff and
resources built at the corporate center would be a resource that the SBUs could draw upon, as
and when a need was felt.

A need was felt to establish a visible physical resource that would then provide the
physical organizational context for the envisaged processes. While a traditional corporate library
might have fulfilled this purpose, a need was felt to have a specialized corporate library which
would assemble resources dedicated to facilitating the innovation process (Corporate Innovation
Resource Center , CIRC). Since the company had in place a corporate internet, an online
resource was designed as a complement to the physical library (CIRC Online). Under the aegis
of Corporate Business Development, a team of SBU business and technical representatives was
assembled to create a standing inter-SBU group, charged with the responsibility for inter-SBU
coordination, as well as the measurement and benchmarking of innovation performance within
the SBUs, a process that would be led by the head of corporate business development (Corporate
product Innovation Forum, CPIF). The CPIF designed a process for the selection of products for
development that incorporated the need to share knowledge between SBUs on key decisions,
such as start or stop decisions and decisions to reprioritize product development projects. Since
patent evaluation constitutes a key activity in the generics pharmaceutical business and since
expertise in this area is hard to come by, a need was felt to leverage pockets of expertise in
different SBUs for the benefit of the company as a whole. To this end, a patent experts group
was created with the primary aim of knowledge sharing and the dissemination of best practices
relating to the evaluation of patents. This group met on a monthly basis and operated a shared
database that brought together in real time some of the activities and data relating to the patent
evaluation process in different SBUs. In the monthly meetings particularly difficult issues were
aired and discussed with a view to soliciting advice from experts in other SBUs. Since several
members of teams at DRL are geographically dispersed, across several locations in and around
Hyderabad, and sometimes in several continents, it has also been useful to have virtual team
rooms on the existing Lotus Notes system . These team rooms were used to post information,
queries, coordinate meetings, have discussions and take decisions in a transparent manner.

Finally, it was recognised that changing behaviour was going to be the key challenge in
the implementation of these initiatives. To this end, the processes were designed so that
members of the CPIF would have complete access, including access to innovation processes in
SBUs to which they did not belong. While, in the past this might have been regarded as unusual,
it was clear that the need to have dissemination of information for overall organizational benefit
would have to take precedence over concerns relating to confidentiality. Indeed, it was clear that
the level of transparency demanded in the implementation of the new processes would cause
discomfort to some of the managers used to the older way of doing things. One useful exercise
in helping people open up to each other and the group was the practice of having members
attending meetings to take turns to present a tidbit from their personal area of
knowledge/expertise that the other might find useful. This Knowledge Minute (quite often
lasting several minutes) led to quite interesting discussions unrelated to the main purpose of the
meeting. They were helpful to the main meeting in establishing a precedent for knowledge
sharing that overcame the selfish imperatives of the average corporate setting. In addition to
these initiatives a number of new corporate level processes, such as the creation of a

management council to assist the CEO in corporate decision making, have been useful in
creating the context for knowledge sharing within the organization. While all the initiatives are
not fully in place, the changes are already visible in terms of the amount of information the
average employee has about the company. A happy coincidence that has reinforced this is the
listing of the company on the NYSE with the attendant need to comply with the reporting
requirements of that bourse and a sophisticated global investor community. However, the battle
to leverage knowledge assets is never completely won. It has to be a continuous effort to
struggle against the mindset that leads to natural silos of information and expertise within the
organization. Stirring takes some doing. This needs a great deal of senior management attention
and overseeing, which fortunately is the case today at Indian pharmaceutical companies like Dr

Major obstacles /Barriers to Knowledge Management Systems

After experiencing the knowledge systems of different companies as discussed

,we reach on certain judgment regarding the obstacles faced by the corporate in the knowledge
Management systems. There are many barriers on the individual , organizational levels some of
the barriers related to organizational aspects are observed as fallow :

 Top Management Involvement: In a dynamic, turbulent and uncertain

environment, members of the top management in an organization get busy managing and
exploiting marketing opportunities in the global village. When top management does not
invest enough time in educating organizational members, they can not institutionalize
values and norms and create organizational culture. In the absence of any culture
building initiatives from the top management, knowledge workers also become market
focused and try to maximize their payoffs for the knowledge they have.

 Cross-functional Ownership: A good KM system should help an organization

deliver what its markets and its customers require. Hence it should have strong linkages
with organizational strategies. The HR department should be actively associated with its
design and management. Information and network technology should be effectively
utilized for knowledge sharing and knowledge generation. Thus different functional
specialists should be involved in designing and managing the KM system. However,
organizations are usually pressed for time and do not create process to institutionalize
cross-functional ownership for the KM system. In the absence of multi-functional
involvement and ownership, KM systems do not deliver what is expected of them.

 Obstructive Organizational Structure: In hierarchical organizations, information

flow from lower to higher levels is hindered. Hierarchies limit the contributions of
people at lower levels in knowledge sharing. Interestingly, even in flatter organizations,
knowledge sharing did not occur easily. It has been observed that knowledge workers
were reluctant to learn from and share their knowledge with their colleagues.

 Lack of Pull for KM System: An organization may initiate a KM system without

defining what is useful or essential knowledge for its employees. Having created a KM

system, and under pressure to show results, the concerned authority may deposit
whatever knowledge is easily available rather than ensuring that only relevant knowledge
is incorporated in the KM system. When organizational members find that the
knowledge in the system is not relevant, they lose the motivation to use it again.

 Dysfunctional Reward System: Organizations are increasingly using big

discretionary rewards to motivate their employees for excellent performance. This makes
every person in the organization mindful of the decisive performance criteria, which
again leads to organizations using performance criteria that are tangible, visible,
involving short duration and which appear to be objective. Some of the KM processes
being long-drawn, subjective and not easily measurable, such performance criteria and
reward systems become dysfunctional for knowledge generation and knowledge sharing.

Similar findings were reported by other studies on knowledge transfer. Ernst and Young
found that culture was the biggest barrier to knowledge transfer (54%). The other major factors
that were perceived to be barriers to knowledge transfer were top management failure to signal
importance (32%), lack of shared understanding of strategy of business model (30%),
organizational structure (28%), and lack of ownership of the problem (28%).



On the basis of characteristics of knowledge workers and the factors that contribute
to the concept of self of a knowledge worker have been identified in the article . The article gave
pointers on how Knowledge Management systems and knowledge workers could be integrated,
and how a culture for knowledge management could be created. Organizations aspiring to attract
superior knowledge workers should position themselves as organizations which value knowledge
generation and knowledge sharing. Knowledge is long-drawn, strenuous and full of uncertainties.
It requires people to be self –motivated and organizations should give off the message that
knowledge generation is a valued activity and is expected of every knowledge workers. As a part
of performance management and review, people should be added what new knowledge they have
acquired and how they used it. Also, what new knowledge they have generated and how it is
relevant of the organization .At a practical level, organizations should facilitate the acquisition
of skills, capabilities and competencies to generate valid knowledge ,Knowledge generation is a
discipline in itself and people need to be educated in research methodology. It involves defining
the research agenda, examining the existing knowledge gap, defining research objectives,
building propositions and hypotheses, collecting and arranging data, analyzing the data and
validating the hypotheses. Knowledge generation needs a long –term perspective , commitment
and resources. Organizations can specifically provide allowances for purchasing books and
journals, and as in academic institutions, a sabbatical to its knowledge workers for knowledge
generation. 3M ,known for its innovations and new product development capabilities, has a
system whereby people can use 15 percent of their time on projects and activities of interest to
them. Knowledge generation involves uncertainty and risk and people need to learn to live with
it . Organizations can reduce risk and the impact of uncertainty creating a culture of care. Care in

relationships gives rise to mutual trust, active empathy, access to help , leniency in judgemen and
courage. Trust facilitates people to draw upon each other’s resources and as a consequence
people feel empowered and comfortable to take risks and try sharing themselves and their
beliefs. Empathy facilitates active listening and being able to see a situation from another
person’s point of view. Leniency in judgment nurtures experimentation and risk taking, which
facilitates growth . Finally , a caring environment facilitates people to have courage to share
their unique view point and be different from others. Caring behaviors can be encouraged using
systems and rewards . However, institutionalizing caring would require establishing it as an
organizational value.

The , mission and organizational needs of an organization . As against
that, the knowledge needs of a knowledge worker get defined by his / her personal vision and
concept of self. An organization should ensure congruence in organizational vision and the
vision of its knowledge workers. This can be best achieved at the time of recruitment and
selection of knowledge workers. However, subsequently an organization should actively involve
its knowledge workers in redefining organizational vision and ensuring that it becomes a shared
vision. By creating a shared vision, an organization can ensure common learning needs across
the organization and facilitate knowledge management and create a learning organization.
Organizations should spend considerable time and resources in recruiting superior knowledge
workers, actively involving existing knowledge workers in the selecting process since they are
well placed to talk about current organizational projects and future plans. They are also better
placed to share the excitement of working for the organization ,which helps in attracting superior
knowledge workers. Knowledge workers should be actively involved in designing KM systems
and defining organizational knowledge needs. Knowledge workers from different functional
areas and at different levels should be encouraged to think through the kind of knowledge which
would help them to improve their performance and help the organization to achieve its vision,
mission and goals. Common knowledge needs across the organization should be identified and
prioritized . Subsequently , the KM system could also cater to specific and specialized
knowledge needs. In the absence of a clearly defined purpose for knowledge management ,
knowledge initiative , projects and programmes become an end in themselves. Knowledge
sharing can be nurtured and institutionalized by creating communities of practices. These have
been in existence in academic institutions as well as in consultancy organizations for long.
Communities of practices are “groups of people informally bound together by shared expertise
and passion for a joint enterprise. “ Communities of practices, usually voluntary, are created to
develop members’ capabilities by joint learning and to build and exchange knowledge .
However, leaders in organizations should identify what kind of unique knowledge the
organization has or would like to have and should nurture creation of communities of practices
around those subjects.

A good reward system should help an organization balance between knowledge

generation and knowledge usage. Knowledge generation, like basic research , when successful ,
offers an organization superior comparative advantage . But it requires a much longer time
period and a much greater investment in resources. Outcomes from a knowledge generation
project similar to basic research are also comparatively uncertain. As against that , knowledge
usage like applied research usually has a shorter cycle time, requires less commitment of
resources and outcomes from it are less risky and less uncertain. Hence organizations and

individuals tend to give greater importance and priority to knowledge usage over knowledge
generation. The reward system for knowledge management should strive to maintain a balance
between the two. Some organizations give extrinsic rewards for knowledge management related
activities . Typically organizations keep track of how often people have accessed the knowledge
depository. They also keep track of what kind of knowledge is deposited in it. Based on some
predefined norms, those who use knowledge from and deposit knowledge in the knowledge
depository are given knowledge currency that can subsequently be exchanged for money or some
other extrinsic rewards . Those who had deposited the knowledge are also rewarded based on
how frequently their knowledge has been referred . Such a system rewards sharing and usage of
explicit knowledge . The system also has the potential to motivate people to convert their tacit
knowledge to explicit knowledge and deposit it in the knowledge depository. However, such a
system does not keep track of tacit knowledge sharing amongst people. It is also difficult to
assess whether people really used the knowledge that they accessed from the knowledge
depository. Thus while extrinsic rewards may facilitate creating awareness about the knowledge
depository, organizations should not expect extrinsic rewards to institutionalize knowledge
management process.


Organizational resources can be tangible like land, buildings, plant and machinery, or
intangible like brands and reputation. Tangible resources are unlikely to be the basis for
competitive advantage for the simple reason that they can often be duplicated easily by anyone
who has the money. Intangible resources are much more likely to meet the tests of inimitability,
appropriability, slow depreciation, difficulty of substitution and competitive superiority. Perhaps
the strongest intangible resources are organizational capabilities. Reliance’s legendary capability
to conceive and implement mega-projects based on its ability to influence the policy
environment in its favor meets all the tests listed above; groups like Essar and the Tatas have
found this out the hard way! Understanding what capabilities to create, and taking the necessary
steps to create such capabilities is again an exercise in knowledge management. For example,
tractor and utility automobile manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) realized that to
compete effectively it would have to be able to create a stream of new products on a continuing
basis. Given its limited resources and global ambitions (it hopes to become a volume leader in
the global tractor industry) it identified good project management skills as a key ingredient and
initiated an organisation-wide process, guided by external consultants, to create a robust project
management capability. Another company that has taken deliberate approach to create
organizational capabilities is two wheeler manufacturer TVS Motor Company (formerly TVS
Suzuki). Like M&M, the TVS Motor Company realized that a strong product development
capability was essential for its survival and growth. However, they saw the essential
requirements as being able to match user needs to product concepts and to be able to seamlessly
transfer designs into manufacturer. The Japanese Total Quality Control (TQC) concept seemed
to provide the best framework for such a capability and they therefore decided to concentrate on
organisation-wise assimilation of this philosophy. It is useful to note that a single resource,
however strong, is often not a good basis for strategy. HLL’s sustained performance is the result
of strong brands, but also of leveraging its collective knowledge of brand management, logistics

and distribution management, and the collective expertise and research skills of its scientists and
engineers. For these different resources to be of maximum use to the organisation, they must be
accessible to different people when they need them and be transferable to those parts of the
organisation where they can be applied for creating greater value for the corporate excellence.


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