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Cultural Resistance to KM Persists

Knowledge Management (KM) is still met with cultural resistance.   This can be a major issue to most current organizations wishing to embrace KM.   A cultural resistance survey and article by Jay Liebowitz, Ph. D. aim to decipher why there is so much heal dragging.

In the first question of the survey developed by Liebowitz, Elana Zeide, and Nina Evans,   participants including members of industry, government, academic, and other not-for-profit organizations, it was asked if learning and knowledge sharing proficiency was taken into account during annual performance reviews:

Sixty-one percent responded “no,” and 39 percent said “yes.”   The reason for asking that question was to see whether people are formally rewarded for exhibiting knowledge sharing behaviors.   IF so, that might help reduce some of the cultural resistance to KM because it could show that the organization is placing value on and promoting knowledge sharing.   So, even though most organizations surveyed don’t formally include learning and knowledge sharing proficiencies as part of the employee’s annual appraisal review, they might be suing various recognition and awards to promote a continuously learning culture in their organizations.

Some of the most frequently rewarded knowledge sharing proficiencies included things like learning and mentoring, teamwork, and outreach.   On the other hand, for those who were not being evaluated on such things, the reasons given for the lack of evaluation included currently lacking the organizational maturity to engage, lack of people/time/money to prioritize, and a lack of understanding among supervisors of the importance of KM.   Basically, the positioning of KM within an organization is an issue.   Both centralized and decentralized placement had responders saying they felt trust and lack of trust.   The biggest issues found were that senior leadership commitment to KM and having convenient knowledge sharing mechanisms both fluctuated greatly.

Knowledge can be shared or hoarded which caused loyalty issues on the side of those supporting KM and those resistant to or not heavily concerned with it.   This led to the last question on the survey which asked participants how to best reduce cultural for KM initiatives in organizations.   Some of the best answers here include improving interpersonal and organizational communications, increasing senior management attention and involvement, and reducing workloads.   It seems that, overall, basic involvement is the best way to overcome cultural resistance to KM.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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