The introduction of knowledge management technology within the British Council : an action research study
The study describes action research undertaken within the Knowledge Management programme of the British Council, a not-for-profit multinational organisation. An interpretive methodology is adopted because of its appropriateness to the study of real-life complex situations. There is a contested literature on Knowledge Management which this study explores and contributes too. The action research draws on a social constructivist stance to develop and introduce Knowledge Management systems for significant groups within the organisation. A rich set of issues emerge from the literature, and the action research, which contribute to the discourse on Knowledge Management systems and their use in practice. The study suggests that a methodological framework is beneficial in supporting the development and introduction of such systems. However the research identified that Knowledge Management problems cannot be identified and so reconceptualises Knowledge Management in terms of improvement. A framework is developed (AFFEKT: Appreciative Framework for Evolving Knowledge Technologies) to such improvement. This framework is used in the final action research cycle. The conclusions are drawn from a reflection on the application of this framework and reflection on broader issues raised by the action research. The study concludes that knowledge management systems should introduced through an ongoing iterative process of reflection and action. Knowledge Management systems should encourage new work practices, however this requires a realisation that the development of a Knowledge Management systems is a reflective process by which the system is integrated into existing practice and enables users to critique this practice. The study contributes to the discourse concerning the application of technology within Knowledge Management (Galliers 1999; Alavi and Leidner 2001; Butler 2002; Wickramasinghe 2002). It contributes to the field of Information Systems by describing a coherent narrative on the introduction of knowledge management systems within a unique organisational context, and by developing a framework to aid intervention.