Consulting businesses are seeing fast shifts in service delivery and the form of client-operated knowledge management systems. A knowledge management system must be in place in order for a business to adapt to the changes in information technology and provide excellent customer service. Utilizing information technology will enhance and expand customer service delivery.
Knowledge management is the implicit, explicit, and systematic organizing of crucial and shareable information within an organization and its external environment. It entails organizing information, locating and studying it, selecting necessary information, filtering it, and presenting it to groups, individuals, or entities in an effort to enhance their understanding of certain business areas of interest. Therefore, knowledge management is the process of transforming personal knowledge acquired via the learning process or from other sources into knowledge for others through the organization of information inside the organization. Information management focuses on two goals: facilitating knowledge sharing inside the organization and utilizing knowledge to govern communities and institutions. Business organizations that have implemented knowledge management operations have been able to concentrate on gathering, storing, and applying knowledge for problem solving, dynamic learning, strategic planning, and decision making, among other purposes ( Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin,2000 and Blue Ridge Academic Health Group. 2000).
Knowledge sharing among employees is acknowledged as a source of sustained competitive advantage, business value, and economic progress (Sandra Vera-Mun , Joanna, and Chee, 2006), despite the fact that knowledge sharing within organizations may be constrained (Szulanski 2000, 1994; Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995; von Hippel 1994).
What is Understanding?
According to the dictionary, knowledge is the consciousness and comprehension of facts, truths, or information gained via experience or learning. Researchers employ a variety of terms to characterize knowledge, as claimed by Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006). Therefore, knowledge might be an appreciation of interconnected information that are of smaller value when considered separately. (Nonaka) (1994) Starbuck (1992) described knowledge as a store of competence, and Elliott and O'Dell (1999) defined it as information in action, citing Starbuck's (1992) observation that knowledge consists of justified true belief.
Polanyi distinguished between explicit and tacit knowledge (1966). Explicit Knowledge is "know-what" that is captureable, codifiable, categorizable, and transmittable (, Stenmark 2000). Tacit knowledge is the "know-how" that humans acquire via their routine practices and mental models ( Polanyi 1997; Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995). Ambrosini and Bowman (2001) concluded that tacit knowledge cannot be easily stated since it is subconsciously grasped and applied and resides in the minds of individuals as intuitions, insights, beliefs, and values. Bonner (2000) and Lee (2000) emphasized that knowledge is embedded and synthesized in the minds of individuals in the majority of organizations.
Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006) argue in their article enhancing knowledge sharing in public accounting firms that "explicit knowledge can be shared through verbal or written communication and, as a result, passed on to other members of the organization, who must convert it into tacit knowledge before using it." Conversely, tacit knowledge is often transmitted through socializing, including highly involved dialogues, apprenticeship (e.g., observation), storytelling, analogies, and shared experiences and activities ( Stenmark 2000, 10; Zack 1999b, 46; Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995; Nonaka 1994, 1991). Thus, tacit information is efficiently transmitted by providing the recipient with the greatest number of possibilities to collaborate with the originator of the knowledge." The end of the quotation.
We learn from the quote and debate that knowledge sharing, whether explicit or tacit, is crucial to the business and involves both human effort and an enabling organizational climate.
Johnson and Company
Johnson and Associates is a public accounting business that was founded in 1978 and has evolved to become a prominent provider of services on three continents. The company is organized into functional sections to accommodate professionals with competence in receivership, management, insolvency, auditing, accounting, and bookkeeping. Each functional division is staffed with personnel and equipped with the necessary materials for operational procedures.
The objectives, mission, and strategy of the business
The company's primary purpose is to expand its presence on the remaining three continents and increase its workforce from 49,000 to about 59,000.
This necessitates a comprehensive knowledge management solution that provides vital resources and orientation and reference information to new branches and staff members. The organization would be able to provide superior and consistent services to its consumers if it had easy access to information.
Let me begin by introducing the accounting and bookkeeping department's personnel. In the accounting business, they are the most significant because they interact with clients. When you give accounting records to the company, the staff members are the recipients; they are also the individuals responsible for the task. In addition to accounts clerks, accounts assistants, accountants, audit clerks, auditors, senior accountants, senior auditors, and audit managers, there are numerous different categories of bookkeeping and accounting personnel. This form department possesses a variety of attributes: There is substantial interaction between themselves and members of their profession with the objective of sharing information and new accounting standards. Their organizational system is hierarchical, spanning from partners to branch managers, audit managers, managers, department heads, and lastly audit clerks. The flow of information adheres to a hierarchical structure, the majority of staff members in this department hold degrees and professional certifications, and staff members in this department require ongoing training and updates on changes to professional standards, legislation affecting the profession, and other changes affecting the profession. This department's primary objective is consistency, caution, adaptability, and precision.
Influencing Factors of Knowledge Sharing at Johnson and Associates
The company makes efforts to collect, organize, transform, document, and distribute the collective knowledge of its personnel. However, staff members' knowledge is disseminated through informal and formal consultations, and further knowledge is shared utilizing information technology.
The company Johnson & Associates use an information technology system. Banker et al. suggested that accounting companies use IT to capture and retrieve data, information, and knowledge (2002). IT also enables staff workers to gain access to professional practices best practices, surveys, statistics, expert information for specific situations, and point-by-point expertise, according to Silvi (2002).
According to Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006), "These systems give auditors of all levels access to both external and internal expertise contained in third-party databases." In addition, businesses employ the "codification of experiences" concept, which entails making the audit teams' research, experiences, processes, and working papers accessible to the rest of the organization via keyword searches in knowledge bases. For instance, Ernst & Young's PowerPacks are continually updated compilations of best practices material that are internationally accessible via KnowledgeWeb (Head 2001). This information can be downloaded onto the computers of seven individual specialists globally. The corporation tracks the frequency with which PowerPacks are accessed, and these counts show the currency and value of the PowerPacks' knowledge. This platform eliminates the need for employees to "reinvent the wheel" whenever a common issue emerges. IT supports knowledge exchange by easing such processes and offering the means for electronic cooperation. Access to crucial data and papers within the organization is facilitated by information technology systems, which should boost productivity and decision-making. Group support systems (e.g., Lotus Notes and similar web-based systems) integrate communication, computer, and decision technologies to support group decision-making and associated tasks (Jessup et al. 1990). In addition to allowing auditors to operate in "virtual teams" unrestricted by time or distance, these systems also support electronic meetings (Murthy and Kerr 2004, 141).
PricewaterhouseCoopers directed the 2002 VivendiUniversal SA Sarbanes-Oxley 302 Certification project. Using Lotus Notes, electronic mail, instant messaging, and video conferencing, teams in Europe and the United States were able to work in real time. In addition, technological advancements enable auditors on engagement teams to conduct electronic reviews of clients' work papers from their offices or remotely (Brazel et al., 2004)".from this excerpt on how accounting firms use information systems, we realize that other leading accounting firms have adopted systems that allow them to share knowledge within the organization.
Despite the availability of an information technology system, Johnson and Associates do not necessarily share information with everyone. Other restrictions hinder progress. Most accounting firms have difficulty documenting their work or practices because there is a large gap between what a task looks like in a process manual and how it is implemented in practice, and the gap between what people believe they do and what they actually do argues for the need for better documentation. Joanna, Sandra Vera-Mun, and Chee (2006). The majority of accounting firms' work consists of tacit improvisations that are difficult for staff to articulate. Tacit knowledge is a component of total job-related information (Schmidt and Hunter, 1993) and can be gleaned from professional encounters.
Like many accounting firms, Johnson & Associates collects and codifies a vast array of knowledge. Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006) noted in their article that "individual auditors must still sift through available datasets and exercise discretion in determining which components are appropriate to the current circumstance. Continuous education and training is necessary for an efficient and successful outcome (Banker et al. 2002). Thirdly, anecdotal data (Head 2001; Power 2000) and field-based research (Irmer et al. 2002) indicate that knowledge sharing through IT-based expert knowledge systems is not automatically accepted by all members of an organization. A new study reveals that professional employees with assessment anxiety are less willing to share their knowledge. Importantly, this research suggests that evaluation anxiety is greater when knowledge is shared via collective database-related technologies (e.g., an intranet) than in informal interpersonal contexts, due to the number and characteristics of those who have access to the information and the permanence of the record.
Information technology aids in the collection, codification, and delivery of data. However, information sharing is an organizational issue because its success ultimately depends on people, their practices, and their expertise (Salisbury 2003, and Douglas 2002).
Auditors' Formal and Informal Interactions
Informally or formally, auditors and professional colleagues at Johnson and Associates share their expertise through personal encounters. As indicated previously, formal groups in Johnson and associates comprise auditors, audit clerks, and audit managers from the same department or another department. Their knowledge-sharing involves office meetings with the audit manager, partners, and other individuals in senior positions. This formalizes new work practices and any other growing issues in their profession. In these companies, informal groupings may include associations of employees from a certain region of the world, who organize assistance teams in times of need. In the course of conducting their informal meeting, professional information may be shared through their exchanges on social terms. This occurs without the other party's awareness, with no negotiation of terms and no knowledge of when the other party will reciprocate (Molm 2000).
The formal and informal connections of accounting businesses are influenced by a number of factors that affect the exchange of information. This consists of practices, unstated standards, beliefs, and shared ideals. This can be summed up as the factors that govern the patterns and characteristics of interactions between workers at various hierarchical levels (Sadler 1988, 118).
Brown and Starkey (1994) claimed that an organization's culture is a significant component that influences attitudes toward communication and communication procedures and systems. Many practitioners concur with John Hudson, former vice-president of strategic planning and knowledge management at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), that the barrier to knowledge sharing is not technology but rather a business culture that rewards keeping information to oneself. Meaning that you should keep your knowledge secret from your peers in order to gain a competitive advantage in terms of compensation and benefits. This implies that individuals' employees are discouraged from sharing their knowledge. (Stimpson 1999, pages 38-39) Accounting firms should promote a culture that promotes the sharing of knowledge and eradicate cultures that reward individuals who do not accept teamwork. If an employee is competent yet unwilling to share knowledge, dismiss him. Consequently, cultures and practices that foster transparency and teamwork are a source of information exchange in accounting businesses. Thus, if partners display accessibility and a readiness to discuss sensitive themes, auditors at lower levels are less likely to have evaluation anxiety, thereby increasing their propensity to seek and share knowledge proactively (Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee, 2006).
The criteria used for problem solving and decision making in an organization have an effect on information sharing. All business interactions, explanations, decisions, and expectations must be viewed as equitable. Individuals involved in decision-making, the issuance of opinions, and the recognition of their assumptions and ideas through the solicitation of their opinions and the opportunity to reject the validity of one another's assumptions and ideas. Decisions should be accompanied with an explanation that enables individuals to comprehend the rationale and instills confidence in management's objectives. Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006) contended that "expectation clarity entails making the game's rules explicit." Studies have established a connection between processes, attitudes, and behavior. According to the research conducted, "executives in their sample were frustrated by the uncooperative conduct of the top managers of their local companies. Specifically, senior local managers frequently failed to communicate their information and ideas with the executive level. Managers who believed that the company's processes were fair exhibited a high level of trust and dedication, which fostered active cooperation. In contrast, when managers lacked confidence in a fair procedure, they hoarded information and ideas and dragged their feet in making choices and carrying them out. According to research on procedural fairness, the intricacies of the new rules and policies are less important to achieving a fair procedure than their clarity. Moreover, individuals care equally about the fairness of the process by which a result is created as they do about the result itself. Generally speaking, a fair procedure fosters confidence and commitment, which in turn generates voluntary cooperation. Cooperation drives performance, which motivates people to go above and beyond by sharing their expertise and utilizing their creativity. Joanna, Sandra Vera-Mun, and Chee (2006).
(3) Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity: According to Jackson and Schuler (1985), Role conflict and role ambiguity can be sources of work-related stress, which may impact service delivery to clients. This arises when no proper definition exists. Most accountants and auditors expectation are derived from generally accepted accounting principle and other regulations. Sandra Vera-Mun, Joanna, and Chee (2006) argue that the boundaries on the scope of no audit services established by Sarbanes-Oxley may not be completely transparent to some controllers and corporate managers, particularly those at small businesses; they may continue to view auditors as business advisors and, as a result, auditors' independence may be compromised.