CHAPTER 2: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW
The research problem has been described and contextualised in the previous chapter. A brief synopsis of the relevant discipline upon which this study draws its theoretical underpinning and the identification of the roots of that theory have also been captured in the previous chapter. In this chapter, the researcher places the research problem within its theoretical perspective and reflects on the various empirical studies conducted by other scholars which have a bearing on this study.
The chapter traces the genesis of the knowledge-based view and provides a detailed review of the literature that reflects on the research problem. This culminates in the identification of the research gaps as well as the research hypotheses driving the present investigation.
THE GENESIS OF THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED VIEW
The knowledge-based view has been identified in the previous chapter as the underlying theory that addresses the research problem for this investigation. In this section the historical development of this view is traced.
The knowledge-based view, though is officially recognised as part of the post World War II developments characterised by advances in information technology, can be traced back to the pre-technology era. This section would thus elaborate on the views of various scholars which ultimately led to what is presently known as the knowledge-based view.
The classical scholars (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) laid the foundation upon which modern scholars such as Drucker and Nonaka have based their theoretical statements about the valuable role knowledge plays in the productivity of modern organisations. The two overlapping phases in the historical development of the knowledge-based view, as identified from the literature, are described in this study in terms of the pre and post IT knowledge views.
The pre-IT phase knowledge view
Knowledge is as old as humankind. The classical scholars made great strides in explaining knowledge and the art of knowing (learning) before information technology came into existence. Among the classical scholars, Plato wrote extensively about knowledge in his work the Republic (380 BC). Being a disciple of the Greek philosopher, Socrates, Plato was schooled in the dialectic art used by Socrates. It is alleged by classical commentators that Socrates himself never wrote his own works, but that most of the views on Socrates‟ thinking are written by Plato. “Plato writes where Socrates did not but he writes the words of Socrates” (Phillips, 2000:46).
Socrates described knowledge as “care of the mind” and believed that the main reason why some people could not succeed in life was due to “bad training and bad company” (Ferguson, 1970:293). Socrates laid the foundation that would later lead to the modern dichotomous reference of knowledge in terms of codified and tacit knowledge. It was Socrates who distinguished between true opinion (beliefs) and knowledge (Cottingham, 1996:12). Cottingham indicated that Socrates believed that “true opinions do not stay long in our minds, but they can be fastened into our minds through recollection” so that they become knowledge. True knowledge as defined by Socrates meets the same definition as that of tacit knowledge while codified knowledge can be associated with Socrates‟ beliefs (tacit and codified knowledge are defined in the operational definitions of key concepts in the research methodology chapter).
It is apparent when analysing the contribution of various classical writers (from Socrates to George Hegel) that the authors never disagreed to the definition of knowledge, but there was no consensus as to how people acquire knowledge. But the disagreement into the process of knowing forced the majority of scholars to accept two forms of knowledge. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would refer to beliefs (opinions) and knowledge while later the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in his Critique on Pure Reason (1781) would refer to two forms of knowledge which are:
A priori knowledge: knowledge independent of sensory experience Empirical knowledge: knowledge possible only through experience (Cottinham, 1996:43).
These two forms of knowledge were later to be adopted by modern writers when Nonaka introduced the concept codified and tacit knowledge in his work The Knowledge Creating Company in 1991. Though Knowledge Management theory is presently steeped in this dichotomous debate of viewing particular aspect of knowledge as codified and another form as tacit, the central argument in this study is that there is only one knowledge form, but with various dimensions. This is apparent considering Soo et al.‟s argument that there is only one form of knowledge which is true knowledge:
True knowledge, by definition is non-codified. As soon as it becomes codified and transmitted it ceases to be knowledge and becomes data. It can only become new knowledge when combined in some unique ways leading to an actionable outcome (2002:131).
The definition adopted in this study is in line with Soo et al. and it closes the debate around two forms of knowledge. The only form of knowledge is non-codified knowledge and codified knowledge is called information for the purpose of this study. But the most important aspect to consider with the pre- information technology view of knowledge is how the various authors defined knowledge and their views of how people acquire knowledge.
The classical definition of knowledge
As illustrated in the operational definition of key concepts, the classical definition of knowledge is “justified true beliefs”. In line with this definition, Socrates would argue that “true opinions (beliefs) can be aroused by questioning and turned into knowledge” (Cottingham, 1996:12).
The German philosopher, Jacob Friedrick Fries (writing during the 19th century) made a clear distinction between beliefs and knowledge in his work Wissen, Glaude und Ahndung (Knowledge, Beliefs and Aesthetic sense):
In everyday consciousness belief is much weaker than knowledge, for knowledge forces itself upon us through the strength and evident nature of its intuitions and never leaves us as long as we live (Richter, 1989:69).
According to Fries, knowledge is thoroughly valid. This implies that knowledge is of a higher degree when compared to beliefs and aesthetic sense. This is clearly rooted in Plato‟s argument that true knowledge is more stable and permanent and must relate to reality (Cottingham, 1996:13). Plato viewed “knowledge as the most powerful of all faculties” which is infallible, incorrigible and absolute (Vlastos, 1971:72).
The influence of Socrates is apparent in the classical definition of knowledge. As highlighted earlier in this section, classical writers are generally in agreement in defining knowledge but consensus has never been reached as to the actual process of knowing.
The classical art of knowing
When analysing the views of various classical writers on the art of knowing, two groups of dichotomous theorists stand out:
The innatist (a priori knowledge): influenced by Plato‟s idea of innate knowledge as that which is within us in the form of “true thoughts which only need to be awakened into knowledge by putting questions” (Cottingham, 1996:1). Plato “thought our a prior knowledge was a result of an immediate acquaintance in a previous disembodied state with the relevant truths” (O’Connor & Carr, 1982:9)
The empirists (posteri knowledge): emanating from Aristotle‟s argument that knowledge develops “naturally from sense perception” (Cottingham, 1996:19).
Phillips (2000:62) appropriately observed that the Western thought throughout its formative stages has been dominated by these two “towering traditions”. According to Phillips, the innatists emphasise ideas, rationality and the mind while the empirists focus on the material things, sensible experience and bodily passions. It is apparent that the key building block behind knowledge according to the innatist is reflection, while sensation is regarded as the foundation of knowledge by the empirists.
In line with the innatist theory, Plato indicated that “knowledge comes from teaching rather than persuasion, but from recollection rather than teaching” (Vlastos, 1971:10). The influence of Plato‟s innate knowledge theory is apparent in Polanyi‟s work, The tacit dimension (1966). Just like Plato who described knowledge as practical, Polanyi (1966:20) argued that tacit knowledge is rooted in practical operations. It is the tacit nature of knowledge that captured the imagination of Japanese scholars such as Nonaka (1991 and 1994), and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995).
The notion of innate knowledge as originated from Plato formed the basis of René Descartes‟s Mediation on First Philosophy (1641). As reflected by Descartes, knowledge originates internally within the mind rather than away from the senses (Cottinham 1996:26). As a reaction to the idea of innate knowledge, John Locke wrote in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 that “the senses are the primary source of all knowledge” (Cottingham, 1996:27). As indicated by Cottingham, John Locke‟ ideas led to the development of the empirist conception of empeiria a Greek word meaning experience. Cottingham noted that Jock Locke was of the idea that “observation via the senses, plus the mind‟s subsequent reflection on the data so acquired, constitutes the basis of all knowledge we have, or can have”.
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXTUALISATION
1.2. BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.3. STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.6. AIM OF THE STUDY
1.7. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.8. SCOPE OF STUDY
1.9. THE FIELD OF STUDY AND THEORY UNDERPINNING THE INVESTIGATION
1.10. OUTLINE OF THE RESEARCH REPORT
CHAPTER 2: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2. THE GENESIS OF THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED VIEW
2.3. KM EMPIRICAL STUDIES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD
2.4. A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO KM
2.5. KM AND RELATED PRACTICES
2.6. KEY FEATURES OF KNOWLEDGE-BASED ORGANISATIONS
2.7. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
2.8. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT BENEFITS
2.9. THE THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL GAPS
2.10. THE RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2. RESEARCH APPROACH
3.3. RESEARCH DESIGN
3.4. LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH DESIGN
3.5. PARTICIPANTS AND TARGET POPULATION
3.6. SAMPLING TECHNIQUES
3.7. DATA COLLECTION
3.8. DATA ANALYSIS
3.9. RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY
3.10. ETHICAL ISSUES
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
4.2. RESTATING THE AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
4.3. RESEARCH CONSTRUCTS
4.4. BIOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS
4.5. PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF RESEARCH RESULTS
4.6. HYPOTHESES TESTING
4.7. A MODEL FOR IMPROVED KM IMPLEMENTATION
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.2. RESTATING THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
5.3. SUMMARY OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.4. THE VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF THE FINDINGS
5.5. IMPLICATIONS ARISING FROM THE FINDINGS
5.7. CONTRIBUTION OF THIS RESEARCH
5.9. SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
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