مدیریت دانش: مطالعه موردی اداره تامین اجتماعی ایالات متحده آمریکا
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|24007||2001||31 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Government Information Quarterly, Volume 18, Issue 3, Autumn 2001, Pages 223–253
Knowledge management can be a powerful tool for addressing the “graying of government” and other factors contributing to the loss of expertise in government organizations. This paper presents a case study of knowledge management at the U.S. Social Security Administration and provides recommendations for how knowledge management might better protect valuable knowledge resources. A two-phase study was conducted of the Benefit Rate Increase/Premium Amount Collectible (BRI/PAC), a core process at the U. S. Social Security Administration, where critical knowledge is at risk of being lost. The study suggests that knowledge sharing, training, and the overall development of a working environment conducive to knowledge management promise to enhance performance of the BRI/PAC operation, at SSA.
In its broadest sense, knowledge management (KM) is the ability to leverage intellectual capital (knowledge) for achieving organizational goals. Organizations are realizing that their true strength lies in the intellectual capital of their employees. According to the front page article, “Agencies Create CKO Posts to Get into the Know,” of the November 8, 1999 issue of Government Computer News, government agencies are starting to develop knowledge management initiatives and strategies (Date, 1999). Furthermore, The Washington Post recently completed a six-part series of articles, titled “Empty Pipeline: The Federal Employment Crisis,” chronicling the people shortage facing the Federal government. This shortage will be driven by retirements, early retirements, a lack of qualified people to move up and fill positions left vacant after retirements, and hiring freezes Barr 2000 and Silverman 1999. The result will be an overwhelming loss of knowledge and experience in the Federal government. Knowledge management can mitigate the impending shortage by capturing the expertise of employees before they leave the government so that their expertise can be reused in the future. Knowledge cannot easily be defined. In the past, there have been two traditions for thinking about knowledge as well as more recent attempts to integrate the two streams of thought (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). The first is rationalism, which sees knowledge as something to be obtained deductively via some mental process, and the second is empiricism, which sees knowledge as something to be obtained inductively via experience. The notion of integrating these two traditions in defining knowledge is seen in the philosophical tradition of pragmatism, where thought (rationalism) and action (empiricism) relate interactively (Dewey, 1929). As it cannot be easily described, there are numerous definitions of knowledge in the literature. Two examples aligned with pragmatism are those of Davenport and Prusak who state that knowledge “is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information,” (1998, p. 2–5) and Van Krough et al. who state that knowledge “encompasses the beliefs of groups or individuals, and it is intimately tied to action” (2000, p. 27). In addition to defining knowledge, knowledge is typically classified as either tacit or explicit. This distinction draws on Polyani 1975 and Polyani 1962) work on tacit knowledge and has been popularized by Nonaka 1994 and Nonaka 1991) and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995). Explicit knowledge is that which has been codified and expressed in formal language. It can be represented, stored, shared, and effectively applied. Tacit knowledge is that which is difficult to express, represent, or communicate. Nonaka and Takeuchi argue that knowledge can be converted from tacit to explicit and vice versa. The social interaction between these two types of knowledge leads to the creation of new knowledge and innovation. Thus, KM works to leverage both types of knowledge. Additionally, knowledge flows, channels for distribution and sharing of knowledge, and use of knowledge for improving the organization’s bottom line are some of the key aspects of KM. A U.S. Social Security Administration case study is presented and used to outline future directions for addressing this “people crisis.” The next section provides an overview of knowledge management. After that, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) case study is presented and results are analyzed. Conclusions are given in the last section. As a single case study, the findings from this paper are directly applicable only at SSA. However, the study does provide insights for directions in which KM might proceed in other government organizations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The key results from phase one of the study involve organizational culture and the degree to which SSA is amenable to KM. In short, there is recognition that knowledge work and learning are important. Seventy-four percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that knowledge workers are the primary contributors to success in organizations. Furthermore, 87% of the respondents either agree or strongly agree that (1) managers need to be aware of the importance of providing their expert employees with challenging work to retain knowledge in organizations, (2) expert employees are the most valuable resource for organizations, (3) that organizations need to have clear strategies for retaining their expert employees, and (4) that the SSA should commit additional human/financial resources to managing knowledge. However, cultural barriers exist, and much needs to be done to fully exploit knowledge and achieve learning. Disparate survey responses regarding the SSA’s (1) readiness to become a learning organization, (2) need for a Chief Knowledge Officer, (3) leadership capabilities for successful knowledge management, and (4) recognition of the measurement of intangibles as important suggest that SSA must continue to work at converting individual learning to organizational learning so the organization is transformed into a learning organization. Furthermore, resources were consistently listed as a barrier to KM. Other barriers include lack of recognition of individuals, leadership assignments not based on merit or experience, hierarchy structure of SSA, and the nature of SSA as an organization driven by legislation. Phase one also enabled us to identify the key benefits SSA expects from the knowledge management initiative. The two most commonly recognized benefits of knowledge management at the SSA are (1) practice and process improvements and (2) enhanced employee capabilities/organizational learning. Seventy and sixty percentage of respondents identified each benefit respectively. Interestingly, only 30% of respondents see improved customer satisfaction as a benefit of knowledge management, 20% noted increased innovation, and 10% see a lowering of the learning gap and improved report writing/inquiry response time as benefits of knowledge management. In phase two, detailed data about knowledge needed for the BRI/PAC operation were collected. Analysis of this data enabled us to develop a clear picture of knowledge work at SSA and identify benefits that can actually be achieved by KM. The primary reasons KM is particularly important for SSA are as follows: 1. All respondents stated that critical knowledge (especially how to compute Social Security benefits) is at risk of being lost because eligibility for retirement will increase and there are insufficient numbers of people who are adequately trained to replace retirees and people lost to attrition. 2. All respondents stated that employees often work under significant time constraints and that this is an external influence that negatively impacts their ability to obtain/apply knowledge. 3. One respondent noted that critical knowledge is at risk of being lost because people are rotated to different jobs without a plan for how to accomplish knowledge retention and/or reuse. 4. The majority of missing knowledge needed for the BRI/PAC operation resides outside of the Office of Systems Requirements, which is responsible for the operation. Examples include the U.S. Treasury and the Health Care Financing Administration as well as other divisions in SSA such as the Office of Systems Design and Development. 5. It is apparent that there is no standard for sharing electronic documentation, which complicates knowledge sharing and causes a lack of organization. 6. Technicians are unaware of organizational-wide and future initiatives as demonstrated in the following comment that was given by about 30% of the respondents. “This is the first time I have ever heard the concept ‘Knowledge Management’. I am not a member of management so I do not know if this concept is something that SSA is now working on.” 7. There is insufficient training for new employees. As a result, expertise is already being lost. This is due both to a lack of training and the fact that employees are moved around internally without adequate background in the areas to which they are moved. 8. Employees at SSA are already sharing knowledge to some extent on an informal basis. However, knowledge is only shared on a need to know basis. There is no official or encouraged forum for disseminating knowledge to other individuals. 9. The use of office automation software is prevalent among all the respondents. Also, the respondents possess most of the knowledge that they need about Title II systems and calculating benefit amounts, but they still must obtain some of that knowledge from others. Furthermore, some, but not all, respondents possess the knowledge of the BRI/PAC sequence of events. All respondents who use problem reports and CICS Playback possess the knowledge to do so. The primary benefits SSA would realize from KM in the BRI/PAC area include: 1. Retention of critical knowledge such as background knowledge of the overall systems process and SSA’s user community process, knowledge of programs and the reason that they are being changed, knowledge of computations for Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act, knowledge of how to manually compute benefits for a better understanding of the process versus simply relying on computer computations (most important for personnel in field offices because special cases cannot be calculated on the computer), knowledge of how to derive Social Security program amounts, knowledge of how to create scenarios for the Validation database used to validate BRI/PAC changes, knowledge on learning the PLAYBACK program, knowledge and experience in performing all types of computations, versus simply knowing just one specific area, and knowledge on the decision process used in resolving cases (i.e., certain computations). 2. Increase sharing within the organization (and possibly across government organizations) by formalizing knowledge sharing activities and encouraging a sharing culture. Some employees at SSA are already sharing knowledge on an informal basis to some extent. However, knowledge is only shared on a need to know basis. There is no official or encouraged forum for disseminating knowledge to other individuals. Furthermore, there is no standard for sharing electronic documentation, which complicates knowledge sharing and causes a lack of organization so the benefits of sharing are not realized to the fullest extent possible. 3. Identification and improvement of relationships between different parts of the organization. For example, respondents indicated a strong association between the Office of Systems Requirements (OSR) and SSA programmers, as well as other technical staff. This is particularly important for SSA BRI/PAC because the majority of missing knowledge is found outside of their organizational unit. 4. Less time required for system implementation, and less pressure from time constraints. People currently spend time finding requirements documentation and other knowledge in unorganized locations, searching for experts who have required knowledge, and delivering and waiting for hardcopy printouts for validation and testing — all of which slow their work processes. These are consistent with the more general types of benefits outlined by the SSA respondents as mentioned previously. When the survey results from both phases are examined together, the key finding that emerges is that KM at SSA will be undertaken to enhance functioning of the organization internally. It should be noted, however, that public organizations identified as high impact agencies dealing directly with the public by former Vice President Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government are required to make customer satisfaction a high priority. SSA is one of those high impact organizations; but in practice, customer satisfaction is not the top priority. Instead, SSA is still keenly concerned with internal performance as revealed by the case study. One possible explanation for this is the “people crisis” mentioned in the introduction. It is possible that KM will serve a different purpose in an organization based on the nature of the organization in which it is considered. In the case of SSA, issues such as customer service may be important, but as long as there are internal personnel issues to resolve, customer service may have to take a back seat to more pressing issues. As the Federal government on the whole will be facing personnel issues in the near future, this should be an issue for all agencies and departments at the Federal level. Several recommendations put forth in an effort to respond to the findings from this study are as follows: 1. Develop some type of knowledge infrastructure. Perhaps a Knowledge Transfer Department to develop a SSA-wide knowledge management system, provide educational forums on knowledge management throughout the SSA, and act as the analyzer and disseminator in sending the lessons learned to appropriate individuals within the SSA would could benefit from these lessons; 2. Knowledge must be protected from loss and shared in formal ways: Formal approaches might include codification and development of knowledge repositories and/or knowledge management systems of best/worst practices, lessons learned, heuristics, and so forth Contributions to these should be considered standard practice. This way, lessons learned must be encoded as part of the online knowledge management system each year during project development and implementation, before final signoff can occur; Establish a consistent and standard method of writing requirements; Additional information on shared directories and network folders should be provided to employees; Construct an index to show what (and where) sharable knowledge is available. That is, create an organizational “yellow pages” of expertise to map knowledge/skill areas to individuals throughout the SSA; Construct an online catalog about validation tools that should be created; 1. Informal knowledge sharing should be encouraged: Informal knowledge sharing meetings should be held with users of the products, more frequently and on a regular basis; Offer a “Knowledge Exchange” in key SSA core competencies as an informal gathering to allow “communities of practice” to network and share their knowledge; 1. Consideration should be given to rotating individuals between jobs to gain more knowledge of all the system processes. Rotations should be carved out in a systematic and reasoned fashion, based on experience and qualifications; 2. Include a “knowledge” performance factor as part of the annual job performance review report and provide a reward structure to motivate employees to share knowledge; 3. Make sure that every employee has the necessary hardware/software/telecommunication facilities to access the knowledge management system; 4. Training should be improved: To begin, a training program should be developed. Key areas to be included are: Title II information, reading MBR files, basic programming, using problem reports, creating VARs, intranet resources, and office automation software. The analysts need to be trained, in a formal way, on programming knowledge, since many analysts in OSR feel that they are deficient in this area. This type of knowledge would greatly assist them in their analyses (need a knowledge of working with/reading structured language such as pseudocode). This training will combat losses of knowledge categories that are used by a large number of areas for the BRI/PAC and related processes; A good tool and adequate training for maintaining documentation should be developed; Use of search engines on the Intranet and Internet should be taught; The training and development budget should be increased. It should be noted that a major limitation of this study is that it only looks at part of SSA. Single case study research results cannot be generalized. Thus, the recommendations put forth below are for BRI/PAC, with the understanding that they may serve as pointers for how SSA as a whole might proceed with knowledge management. As part of SSA, the BRI/PAC results should provide some insight into SSA. The results cannot be generalized to government organizations.