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Title: A practice-based approach to examining knowledge management repository use
Authors: Walsh, John Nicholas
Advisors: Brooks, L
Keywords: Structuration theory;Information systems;Call centre
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Brunel University, School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics
Abstract: Though knowledge has become an increasingly important resource for modern businesses, it was not until the mid-1990's that the 'knowledge management' research stream emerged in the business and information systems literature. Initial research on how to manage knowledge came from an objectivist epistemology of knowledge that viewed it as something that was capable of captured, stored and transferred via information to increase organisational efficiency. This study is grounded in a more recent and alternative perspective that takes a practice based epistemology seeing knowledge as embedded in and inseparable from practice. The practices of interest relate to how knowledge work is performed in environments where there is heavy reliance on information systems. Using an interpretive case study this research analyses the practices of a product support centre of a US multinational. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and internal documentation, including access to the firms „knowledge management‟ repository. Two central practices were examined: how product support engineers made sense of problems to develop fix procedures and how these were subsequently documented. Even within a work environment where client fixes were verifiable, suggesting an objectivist epistemology, this research found that the practice based perspective could be used to provide a different perspective and develop alternative and useful insights. The study contributes to the practice based perspective on knowledge management by providing an analysis of context specific knowledge work practices by analysing how even in procedural repetitive work agency can be exhibited as actors enact practices. It also helps develop the application of Structuration Theory by aiding an understanding of how meanings, norms and resources are developed, drawn upon, conflict, and are changed as everyday work is accomplished. The study is of relevance by providing an understanding of informal knowledge work practices rather than their formal description.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Theses

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