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Title: Harnessing knowledge management to improve performance within Saudi organisations
Author: Amir, Rafat Bahajet
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 0618
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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The key to understanding the development of competitive advantage is to understand knowledge and how it is managed and shared. Organisations not only need to understand comprehensively the concept of knowledge in order to manage it effectively, but also to create and maintain competitive advantages, especially as the business environment has become increasingly competitive in recent years. The aim of this study is to understand how the knowledge management (KM) concept can be harnessed as a vital factor in the enhancement of productivity, performance and the competitiveness of organisations. Therefore, grounded theory strategy has been used, providing in-depth information relevant to KM implementation. Data were collected from face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 24 top managers from 19 different top-ranking companies operating in Saudi Arabia. As a result of constant comparative analysis of the collected data, five major categories emerged: barriers to KM; organisational learning (OL); means of communication; critical successful factors (CSFs); and impacts of KM on organisational performance (OP). The most common barrier to knowledge sharing is the unwillingness of employees to participate and share their knowledge. Moreover, OL is very important. It is considered to be the main goal of KM and it helps organisations to sustain a competitive advantage and improve employees’ performance and efficiency by encouraging them to learn and share knowledge through the creation of a good learning environment. A well-structured communication system is also a crucial factor for KM success because its role is to ensure and facilitate the passing of knowledge to the appropriate people. Furthermore, there are 14 factors that are very important to the successful implementation of KM and these positively influence employees’ willingness to share knowledge. The study found that the most important factor influencing the success of KM implementation is the employees’ willingness to participate in KM activities and share their knowledge. This implies that organisations that want to be knowledge-based by implementing KM activities need to improve the willingness of employees to participate in the project, otherwise it will fail. Therefore, the researcher has labelled this category ‘employees’ willingness’ and has selected it as a core category. The comparative analysis between knowledge-based and non-knowledge-based organisational performance is presented in this study in order to determine how KM enhances productivity, performance and competitiveness. Therefore, the theoretical and practical contribution was discussed, as well as the findings. The theoretical model illustrates how employees’ willingness can be influenced by the other categories. A theoretical contribution of the model is the determination of the reasons for employees in knowledge-based organisations being more interactive and participating in KM activities by analysing the barriers that impede the adoption of KM activities and, especially, knowledge-sharing activities between employees, as well as the factors that aid the adoption of knowledge-sharing activities. This aided the researcher to determine the conditions that influence employees to share more, or less. The researcher concludes that highlighting the human side of the KM perspective is another of the research’s contribution to knowledge, achieved by covering the current lack of existing empirical studies in the field. Furthermore, the main practical contribution of this study is the presentation of a framework model that demonstrates the process for effective KM implementation. This model is considered to be a summary of the experiences of the organisations participating in this research.
Supervisor: Parvar, Jamshid Sponsor: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Cultural Bureau in London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Critical successful factors (CSFs) ; Employees' willingness ; knowledge management (KM) ; organisational performance (OP)