Knowledge Management: Case Study of World Bank

2021-05-31 09:16:24
6 pages
1756 words
University/College: 
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Case study
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Companies are in the middle of a significant change where the management of knowledge in an organization is considered a valuable resource apart from natural resources, human resource, and capital. Similarly, many companies are reluctant in adopting the efficient use of knowledge-based economy because they cannot adequately apply the theoretical framework in the implementation of knowledge management.' Knowledge management refers to the activity involved in the process of sharing, creating, using and managing the information and knowledge in an organization (Caporarello, Martinez, & SpringerLink, 2014). Distribution of knowledge in the organization is considered a pillar of organizational success regarding achieving its objectives. Therefore knowledge management is a multi-faceted concept within an organization that requires a contribution from all corporate employees and the management. The understanding of the actual nature of knowledge is important in effecting its pure creation, sharing, and use. Therefore, in understanding knowledge management, companies have to go through a paradigm shift in its thinking about knowledge. This paper will critical case study analysis of the World Bank in its desire to implement an efficient and effective knowledge management system

Background of the Case Study

The president of the World Bank James Wolfensohn instructs the manager of knowledge and learning services, Bruno Laporte to devise a better knowledge management system that will emphasize more on engaging the external partners and one that will use the combined knowledge from bot the bank and the partners towards effecting sound policies in local situations. Bruno reflects on the best way to achieve this task by analyzing the past knowledge management system so that he can connect the dots. The administration has recognized the fact that knowledge and information dissemination is more practical in reducing poverty in the world rather than providing financial assistance. In the past, the World Bank has used it knowledge management system despite facing some challenges. The bank recognizes the metamorphosing information technology as having the potential to affect the knowledge management system by providing development information and experience and effectively sharing the information with the clients. Therefore, the organization strives to implement communities of practice to empower their knowledge management system.

Issues and Problems in the World Bank

Ever since the desire by the World Bank to become a knowledge bank it has gone through tremendous changes in the management of information. Therefore, the process of sharing information and knowledge in the institution has had a paradigm shift. However, there are still problems that hinder the company from exercising its full potential in implementing the knowledge-based management framework. For instance, the bank wants to have a radical shift in the minds of the employees. This is in line with its strategic objective and vision of becoming a knowledge bank.' Furthermore, the bank has difficulty in document handling. For instance, the fact that some developing countries lack proper basic infrastructures such as telecommunication system and electricity, there is a problem in sharing information with such partners because it takes more time to have documents delivered. Besides, countries such as Pakistan and India could not trust the move by the World Bank to install a satellite network which was hosted by the bank. Moreover, there is a lot of skepticism and resistance to inventions in the bank. The staff felt that their operations were taken over by the instigation of technological advancements such as the Development Gateway Website. Finally, the World Bank faces an uphill task because thematic groups demand more financial, labor and time investments. Using the thematic groups to facilitate cross-border knowledge was intended to boost the levels of cultural sensitivity and trust between the diverse cultures in the world

Key Issues in the World Bank

The major problem in the World Bank is its ineffectiveness to apply its knowledge management tools to the organizational processes. The bank has made several advances in coming up with knowledge management tools which have not worked out in full capacity. The tools for sharing knowledge have faced various challenges both internally and externally. This is because the organization did not adequately support its employees in the operationalization of the tools. Furthermore, the organization failed to decentralize knowledge management, so that knowledge management is seen as the jurisdiction of the top management without considering the junior employees. This is a wrong strategy since the junior employees need to be integrated for effective and strategic knowledge management in the organization. Therefore, the regional units, task managers, and country teams should also be involved in knowledge management practice.

Relevant Theories to Address the Problem

The realist theory can best explain the problems befitting the World Bank. The bank has misconceptions regarding the knowledge. First, the organization rides on the premise that knowledge is created from interactions, participation, and observation. This is not the case since, despite the capability of the organization to involve an interactive and participative forum to share knowledge and information, the progress is thwarted by other hurdles such as skepticism and lack of technological capacity. Secondly, the organization believes that written and spoken language is the best forms of communications (Bedford & Lewis, 2015). This is the reason why the organization has invested more funds in Development Gateway Website which ultimately draws reluctance and skepticism from the staff. According to the realist, language is only a social activity used in conveying meaning. Therefore, language is ambiguous since languages are different in different environmental contexts. The realist also disregards the notion that knowledge is a finished product but instead posits that knowledge is continually reproduced and an ever-present factor in an organization. Finally, the realist theory believes that science is not the highest form of knowledge. In the realist perspective, the organization should be more concerned with the causation of the phenomenon. This entails what makes it happen, what creates a phenomenon, what determines the phenomenon, or what generates it. Therefore realists are concerned with the causation powers, structures and processes that occur in the environment. Therefore, before the World Bank achieves its strategic objectives, it has to envision the causation of the vision and the problems that might hinder the objectives. For instance, the dissemination of information to partners in developing countries is hindered by the lack of electricity capacity. This means that to solve the problem, the organization need to counter the causation to lack of electricity by instigating electricity supply to the affected areas because it is within their jurisdiction (Center, 2016). Furthermore, the conditions underlying the operation of varied processes in the organization results in different or same results. Therefore, a careful analysis of the underlying structures needs to be observed to come up with the problems that might affect the attainment of the objectives. The realist is also concerned with generating actions rather than just focusing on the objective. According to John Macmurray, organizations need to substitute the I think therefore I am' with I do therefore I am.' This means that he values action more than thoughts and visions. Therefore, in his perspective, knowledge is seen as an action in human beings and not merely a conception.

Moreover, realists focus on the practice-based perspectives in the social world. Hence, the realist explains the phenomenon in the social world basing on the external behaviors, social processes, and the underlying organizational structures at a given period. This is because the realist believes that the structure underlying the operation of social activities evoke social processes that generate other social actions and behaviors.

In the organizational conception of knowledge, the realist believes that organizations have a collective memory embedded in every employee. Therefore, memory in the organization is stimulated by connecting the employees in temporal and social dimensions. This allows the organization to have a continuous flow of narratives, actions, and images from one generation of employees to another. On the other hand, the practice allows assisting in the eventual preservation and transmission of experience in the organization. Therefore, the move by the World Bank to establish thematic groups is a bold move because it enables preservation and effective sharing of information and knowledge among working teams and communities of practice. The collective consciousness in an organization is influenced by personal relationships in the organization and stories that give social and cognitive meaning to the employees. Finally, the realist perspective recognizes the contribution of plausible stories which integrate past experiences and observations in the sense-making process within an organization.

Problem-solving Objectives

The World Bank has the objective of being the knowledge bank. Therefore, the bank sets out the vision of having an effective knowledge management system that will ensure information and knowledge are shared among the partners and clients. In achieving the objective, the organization wants a paradigm shift from being a custodian of knowledge to communities of practice. Therefore, the organization as to recognize certain aspects of the growth towards achieving its objectives. First, the bank has to support the task teams in the organizational operations adequately. This means that the employees have to be empowered through the capacity building by ensuring that they are on board. Ensuring that the employees are aware of what the organization is planning will eventually help in creating a unit consciousness of purpose. Secondly, the organization has to build capacity among the country teams, regional groups, and task managers to apply the knowledge management system more effectively. This is because the teams are strategically placed to interact with clients, and therefore they are knowledgeable enough on strategies to deal with the clients.

Action Plan

World Bank has to develop a strategic policy for it to achieve its vision of becoming a knowledge bank and achieving a community of practice. First, on the problem of lack of technological and electricity capacity in the third world countries, the bank can instigate proper electrical and technical supply to the affected countries so that they have the capability to share information with them. This will speed up the process of information and knowledge sharing between the organization and the partners. It is clear that the organization has the manmade to be the source of technical and financial support for the third world countries around the globe.

Moreover, the organization can engage in capacity building within the structures of the organization. The reason behind reluctance and skepticism among the employees is because the management failed to include them in the preliminary decision-making process. Therefore, the employees cannot facilitate the process since the decision was imposed on them by the top management. Therefore, equipping the junior employees with the vision of the company can instill organizational consciousness hence reduce the chances of skepticism. Besides, the organization can decide to train the emp...

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