Determinants of effective knowledge management practices In selected university libraries In Nairobi and Kiambu Counties, Kenya
Gichuhi, Zipporah W.
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The phenomenon of KM was first hailed as a great idea in the business world where businesses embraced it to give them a competitive advantage in the 1990s (Maponya, 2004). Great multinational businesses such as Microsoft, Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, shell, Buckman Laboratories, Siemens have embraced and invested heavily in KM to their great advantages. In the library world the phenomena has also been hailed as a great idea. International, regional as well as national forums and conferences have addressed this phenomenon. A lot of studies have also been conducted on how KM can be applied in the library world. Unfortunately these studies have concentrated more on corporate and business libraries. Secondly studies on critical success factors (CSFs) on KM in the business world are many and none concerned itself to the libraries. These were gaps the study endeavored to fill. Yet Shanghong (2000) argued that the library in the knowledge economy era should become a treasure house of human knowledge, participate in knowledge innovation and become an important link in knowledge innovation chain. It is against this background that this study was conceived and executed with a view to identify and examine determinants that have influenced KMP in university libraries. Such knowledge was to be used as a basis to recommend measures for enhanced accessibility and utilization of knowledge assets in university libraries. This study aimed to determine KM practices in place, leadership involvement and interest in KM, Staff perception of KM, organizational disposition to KM, knowledge sharing culture and the appropriateness of IT to enable a KM effort. The study adopted the descriptive research design using a survey approach as the study was to help establish an accurate profile of the determinants influencing KM practices in university libraries and report findings as they were without changing the environment. The study location was Nairobi and Kiambu counties. The area was selected because reviewed literature showed that KM studies in Kenya had concentrated in the same area and this gave the researcher confidence to rightly assume that there was KM awareness in the region hence a fertile ground for the current study. The target population was 209 library staff made up of general library staff, university librarians and the deputy university librarians. A total of seven libraries were used out ten that formed the target library population. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected through use of questionnaires and interview schedules respectively. A total of 137 staff returned their questionnaires constituting 80.1% response rate. The study findings established that KM per se was not a function of libraries and neither had it been formally introduced and any understanding of KM as a term was from literacy sources. Despite this fact KM practices were rated as good (62.3%) and very good (10.7%).The library staff (88%) also agreed that they had means of identifying and capturing knowledge. These practices were however more for information management than KM. The identification, capture and acquisition of tacit knowledge were informal and unsystematic. Lack of leadership involvement, motivational aids, budget, benchmarks, strategies/ policies, and appointment of CKO influenced state of KM. The study also established that lack of certain skills such as building knowledge taxonomies, and ability to map internal and external knowledge (see Table 4.10) among others contributed to the state of KM. Lack of leadership drive was identified as the most crucial determinant of them all. A conceptual model of 11 determinants of effective KM practices in university libraries is captured in chapter five. On the basis of the findings the researcher concluded that KM per se in university libraries was weak as it had not been well understood to be embraced and supported. KM education and awareness forums, setting KM strategies and policies as well as working in partnership with IT department to upgrade them to KMS, and upgrading the institutional repositories to KM repositories were among the recommendations made.