How did it all start?
The industrialized world was unaware of the significance of Knowledge Management (KM) until individual entrepreneurs and multinational organizations encountered inefficiencies in large-scale manufacturing. In many firms, the upper management teams have recognized that people cannot contribute to the mutual productivity of the organization; hence, task completion becomes progressively more complicated. Individual work did not meet the expectations of upper management, which led to the formation of the notion of working in teams, which later took the shape of management teams, research and development teams, cross-functional teams, self-managed work teams, and task-assigned groups. Later, they realized that the movement toward group work in organizations spawned a similar tendency toward group study among other social and organizational scientists. With the introduction of workgroup performance, corporations discovered a new paradigm for enhancing worker productivity through group collaboration. Today's evidence reveals that businesses attain their objectives easily through workgroup performance (Thompson et al, 1999, p. 3).
As large-scale manufacturing reached its zenith, urban labor became the most important asset for the burgeoning industrialist elite. Following a series of significant technological advances, machinery began to improve, and automation decreased the industry's need on such vast numbers of exhausted laborers. However, machinery costs money, thus access to capital became crucial. Controlling capital flows was the factory owners' primary concern.
With the notion of group performance, industrialists entered the 21st century, where additional waves of technological innovation proceeded to impact people's lifestyles and places of employment. Land, labor, and capital are no longer a problem for enterprises on a local or regional scale, as these three variables of conventional production, i.e. land, labor, and capital, have grown easier to manage. What concerns our businesses and industries in the management of information within these parameters so that we can differentiate between the success and failure of one organization and another? Scientists assert that ‘KM’ has always existed, but they misled us since we never knew how to use the notion properly.
With abundant and accessible land, labor, and capital, KM affords any group the opportunity to reach its objective. Despite having so many advantages, our entrepreneurs and industrialists lack a systematic strategy for maximizing returns through knowledge management. This is due to the fact that knowledge differs significantly from traditional vital assets in a number of respects, including the fact that it is difficult to track and its worth cannot be quantified.
Group Knowledge Sharing
The primary fault of today's doomed organizations is that they seldom take individual characteristics into consideration, including not only the workers' ability but also their demographic traits, beliefs, and personality traits. They directly care about the interests that are pertinent to a group's tasks and assist them in enhancing their productivity.
For instance, the introduction of KM enthused businesses to such an extent that they began to rely on ‘Knowledge Management Systems (KMS). Without a comprehensive understanding of how knowledge management (KM) considerations relate to people, process, technology, and content, (Robertson, March 5, 2007), organizations today are willing to purchase KMS without examining the system's genuine capabilities. Honestly, there is no such system as KMS; enterprises that want KMS anticipate technological solutions without realizing their true IT capabilities.
Instead of increasing the performance of work groups through suitable training, corporations believe that the group's central tendency may be changed by employing employees with desirable traits or terminating employees with undesirable features. Firms must realize that hiring and firing is not the ultimate solution to close the knowledge management (KM) gap; rather, organizations should focus on training workers to strengthen desirable characteristics and weaken undesirable ones, and linking the group to outsiders with desirable characteristics.
(Moreland, Levine, & Wingert, 1996). Mutual collaboration, mutual comprehension, and related group tasks are likely to improve a group's performance, although such advantages are frequently offset by group conflicts and other losses.
Knowledge Management Systems
KMS technologies necessitate training and development prior to deployment in enterprises. These technologies include a variety of management systems, such as web content management systems, electronic processors, word documents, spreadsheets, record management systems, database management systems, websites, search engines, and collaborative tools.
On the other hand, managers who are observed working harder to keep up with the competition and working even harder to drive their firms ahead of the pack are oblivious of the technological revolution and so do not feel the need to upgrade their personal grooming and training. Such inexperienced managers are simple victims of globalization, which creates ever-widening inequalities between winners and losers. Such managers are accustomed to using conventional methods and are uninformed of KM procedures. Even if they are later instructed, they remain confused about which KM solution to use, when, and under what conditions. This causes them to either adopt IT solutions as a quick fix for their knowledge management issues, or they waste business resources and are followed by narrow-minded, pricey, and at worst, destructive approaches (Kulge et al, 2001, p. 6).
A Case Study on the Application of Technology in Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Since the literature suggests that technology deployment in KM is one of the individual-level criteria for assessing the impact of technology within organizations, an empirical study was conducted to determine the extent to which UK pharmaceutical companies have maintained success in deploying KM solutions.
Novartis has undoubtedly been successful in assessing its clients' and workers' shifting needs. (Bozzette et al, 2001, p. 5) In order to improve a patient’s condition or quality of life, the application of technology has been characterized in terms of the patient’s safety and the effectiveness of devices that are suitable for use with medications (Matuszewski, 1997). Despite a thorough evaluation of the technology that Novartis requires, the company is unable to comprehend the use of suitable technology. This paper narrows in on the obstacles that Novartis faces with KM to assist decision-making for managed care enrollee groups.
Novartis was unable to manage its biomedical research after the merger with Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy (anonymous, 2007) until it opted to implement the right KM tools and procedures. Novartis pharma requires a knowledge marketplace in order to establish a framework within which to think and act for the development of a solution while dealing with massive amounts of data. The purpose of incorporating KM solutions into the system was to establish a foundation and methodology for selecting a technology that would enable Novartis to manage and update private and public data. It was also to maintain a systematic method of information preservation (Buchel, 2001, p. 160).
Novartis spent a total of one year between the arrival and operation of the network operating systems that had been created previously. A dearth of pre-packaged software necessitated considerable custom programming in application creation, which contributed to the incredibly lengthy installation time. Internally, all computer systems were interconnected as child networks of a single parent network located at the headquarters. Aside from decentralized dial-up networks used by some branches to access electronic mail, external networking with branches in other cities or the headquarters was uncommon. This lack of connectivity was linked to the national telecommunication infrastructure's expensive fees.
Knowledge Workers' Option in Choosing a Mode of Communication
In the beginning, Novartis was unable to make substantial use of new communication technologies such as the Internet. Only Sandoz created its own webpage. Even though Novartis had acquired a domain name, its website was still under construction at the time of the survey. The use of electronic mail was minimal in these businesses. Although each organization had many modems, electronic mail was not routinely examined. Traditional methods of communication, such as mail, telephone, and fax, remained the most prevalent.
If we evaluate what the literature suggests, we would find that theoretical viewpoints on the use of KM within the framework of communication modes are never met. Theorists such as Mintzberg (1973) demonstrated that managers spend the majority of their time communicating; however, he did not provide a full examination of the mediums utilized to transmit and receive information. Since the publication of Mintzberg's book, communication technologies have penetrated organizational life, providing knowledge workers with new media options. (Buchel, 2001, p. 15) Many theorists believe that the business environment of today is influenced by knowledge workers (workers who must make extensive use of information in their work context; Davis et al., 1993). Literature reveals that the use of electronic mail (e-mail), voice mail, and teleconferencing, in addition to traditional communication channels such as the telephone and face-to-face communication, has increased. Regarding huge pharmaceutical corporations, this perception is false. Telephones and faxes continue to be the key means of communication because it is more convenient for modern clients to follow plain techniques.
This concept is not exclusive to multinational corporations. The outsourcing environment of today, which has shrunk global company opportunities, is impacted by this challenge, which is merely a subset of KM. According to customers, it is a matter of trust and confidence that they prefer face-to-face or telephone connection. This demonstrates that KM cannot sustain efficiency and confidence. What is the purpose of such technology if the company cannot demonstrate its credibility? Given the expanding availability of new communication media and the resulting complexity of media selection, there is no need for ‘effective communication technology’ but rather a “trustworthy” communication option in the eyes of an organization's customers. This is the situation that Novartis Pharmaceuticals is in.
It is argued that a better understanding of the factors of media selection permits organizations to make more educated decisions on the selection of communication technology. Both traditional and modern communication channels were studied for this goal. It was discovered that 65 percent of Novartis employees preferred to use manual apps for data administration. 10% of the employees did not mind using application packages for data recording, whereas 25% were unaware of the use of electronic data management.
How have the new HRM practices affected the sharing of knowledge within organizations?
Knowledge sharing (KS) within the internal and external environment not only encourages and brings new product development concepts followed by group activity, but has also spawned a knowledge-based economy. Cooperation in organizations requires communication, learning, and the exchange of knowledge. KS practices include various types of team-based organization, continuous (often internal and team-based) learning, decentralization of decision rights and incentives, systems for mobilizing employee proposals for improvements, quality circles, and an emphasis on internal knowledge dissemination, among other practices. (1999, Mendelson and Pillai) The strategy adopted by Novartis restricts the organization to a comprehensive study of knowledge development within organizations engaging in several cooperative processes simultaneously, where knowledge creation among organization members must also be considered. Despite establishing a "knowledge marketplace" where employees are free to express their opinions and perspectives, Novartis has been unable to control the flow of information from one mind to another.
While KS procedures appear to be wholly innovative, several of its broad generalizations (Osterman, 2000) entail new HRM practices that do not adhere to the hire-and-fire criterion (Laursen and Mahnke 2001). The new HRM practice has transformed organizational managerial processes, particularly those associated with downsizing, constant restructuring, and outsourcing; this poses a challenge for KM. How can theorists overlook the fact that KM has astronomically increased the cost of downsizing, which results in the loss of knowledgeable, experienced employees? (Bounfour, 2003, p. 155)
Engineers in Chemical Technology at Novartis
The chemical engineering division of Novartis maintains certain practical expressions of the concerns being addressed at the top. During a thorough qualitative and quantitative study, I discovered that two groups of engineers collaborated to create and provide remanufacturing assistance for the two product families. They had a backlog of both new drugs and new items. This youthful, slender group's capabilities was being taxed by aggressive deadlines for the creation of new items and technological breakthroughs demanding frequent updates to existing products. Uncertainty regarding the company's strategic direction contributed to the departure of a number of pharmaceutical chemical engineers, who felt that their skills would be rendered obsolete or, even worse, consigned to product update work rather than the more intriguing development of new medicines. In this high-pressure environment, managers who were "always in meetings" frequently delegated key tasks to junior engineers who received little day-to-day mentoring. Time was wasted before it was determined whether their designs were off course.
Another group was affected by the technology shift. It was halfway toward implementing advanced laboratory systems. About one-third of the engineers had workstations of the most recent generation. Some were learning how to use them, while others were eager to accept assistance from these technologies yet continued to rely on outdated technology. Even more distressing was the fact that layout specialists were leaving, having realized that the new technology rendered them obsolete. This resulted in dissatisfied design engineers who lacked the new system and lacked proper assistance.
The test area, where the final inspection was conducted before products were transferred overseas for assembly, was also perturbed by the perceived lack of discipline. Test personnel thought they received an excessive amount of ‘junk,’ with no indication that QA had a systematic approach to addressing the issues. Nonetheless, their first priority was to build the next generation of test goods and procedures required for the new generation. They were particularly worried that, despite having to build the ability to test the product at the same time it was being designed, they received very little communication from the chemical engineers to guide their work. They were effectively flying blind, with only a general sense of direction and the hope that they were not too far off course (Glinow & Mohrman, 1990, p. 9).
Effectiveness of Employees
In worker-oriented initiatives, competence is largely observed at the professional or even managerial level. Different work-oriented techniques are a result of employees' contributions in the form of KM sharing. Distinct attitudes of employees toward KM indicate that they possess different attributes, knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) that are necessary for optimal work performance. (Gerber & Lankshear, 2000, p. 49) Competence influences the process of sharing knowledge; hence, disagreements cause employees to isolate themselves.
Today, the term "competencies" is best characterized by examining and evaluating individuals' attitudes toward their work.