Connecting the Dots: KM Initiatives and Business Performance

Moria Levy, Nurit Linn

Abstract

For over two decades now, knowledge management (KM) has been an academic discipline, extensively taught, learned, and researched. It has been practiced in organizations for a similar period. However, demonstrating long-term improvement in business performance as a result of KM initiatives is not an easy task. KM processes and changes are rarely standalone and usually go hand in hand with other organizational changes. This in itself makes it difficult to demonstrate that said organizational changes originate from KM initiatives, and not from other changes in the organizational environment. This research provides a case study in which shifts in organizational performance as a result of KM initiatives can be examined. This research is significant for KM researchers because it suggests a new research model for further studies. In addition, it provides organizations with an optimistic vision, namely that systematic management of organizational knowledge assets is not merely an idea that sounds good, but can actually be proven to be effective. Connecting the dots between KM and business performance is a known challenge. However, thanks to our research model, it is easier to overcome this challenge. The research method is based on a qualitative and quantitative case study in which foster care activities in Israel underwent KM intervention for a period of eight years. During this period, failures of foster care cases resulting in unsuccessful placement dropped by 32%, with KM being a major factor contributing to this change. The research has several limitations. Although KM was the main variant during the years covered by this research, there is no guarantee that other factors—unnoted by researchers and the people interviewed—did not also affect foster care services, and therefore influence fostering performance. In addition, any case study research based only on one case is limited in its ability to suggest a generalized hypothesis. This research is original and somewhat unique. It is one of very few studies that demonstrate the relationship between KM initiatives and business performance.

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