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Journal Article

Wiki‑Based Knowledge Management in a Transport Consultancy, a Case Study  pp133-142

Robbert in 't-Hout, Jos Vrancken, Pieter Schrijnen

© Oct 2010 Volume 13 Issue 2, ICIME 2010, Editor: Shaun Pather and Corrie Uys, pp97 - 196

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Abstract

Developing a Municipal Traffic and Transport Plan (MTTP) is a long lasting and complex process. Many different disciplines are involved, as well as many stakeholders. The process may take more than two years. The larger municipalities in the Netherlands mostly develop their own plans. But for the medium sized and smaller municipalities private consultancies play a major role in the development of the MTTPs. This article describes a case study concerning improving the MTTP development process in such a consultancy. The company did reasonably well in the field, but could do better: a part of the knowledge present in the company wasn’t shared well enough, especially the exchange of knowledge and experience between senior and junior consultants which needed improvement. To improve the sharing, a wiki was developed. In interaction with the consultants a structure was proposed, allowing them to add the information they valued relevant for the development of the MTTPs. The wiki appeared to reveal not only explicit knowledge, but also tacit knowledge. On top of that, the tacit knowledge often was personal, subjective, and even divergent. The juniors were more eager to work with the wiki than the seniors. There still exists a difference between the generations in their ability and readiness to use ICT tools. Sharing the tacit knowledge, revealing the subjective perspectives of the consultants was confronting the company with its implicit learning styles. The staff of the company believed they worked with objective knowledge, and that only such knowledge was relevant in planning and decision making. The wiki revealed that the subjective aspects actually played a role within the company. After some interactions with the manager of the department, the structure of the wiki was adapted. One part of the wiki was meant for explicit, objective knowledge; the other part for tacit, subjective knowledge. Arrangements were made to create the role of moderator for the themes in the wiki ‑ seniors that could decide how to deal with the subjective information. The conclusion of this case can be that wikis aren’t just neutral tools. They need to be tuned to the learning styles that are available within the community that will use the tool. Pilots can help in revealing the way organisations deal with knowledge management. The article follows the chronology of the project. It starts with a short picture of the process of developing an MTTP and with a summary of the learning theories used to assess the challenges of the company. The article proceeds with the design of the wiki and the introduction of the first layout. It then describes the reactions from the consultants and the manager, and the adaptation of the wiki. The article ends with some conclusions on the way wikis can be designed.

 

Keywords: municipal traffic and transport planning, wiki, social software, knowledge management

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 13 Issue 2, ICIME 2010 / Oct 2010  pp97‑196

Editor: Shaun Pather, Corrie Uys

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Editorial

We have pleasure in presenting this special issue of EJISE.  As Information and Communications Technologies and the related Information Systems become ever more pervasive across all spheres of business, government and community based organizations, the scope of this journal has flexed to accommodate these varied settings in which pertinent research problems are located.   Consequently, in this special issue wide‑ranging problems related to the broad ambit of IS evaluation is reported on: 

As many countries continue to develop policies to enhance and sustain the growth of the SME sector, so too does the expenditure and consumption of IT amongst this category of business grow at an ever increasing rate thus warranting the attention of evaluation research. Avraam Papastathopoulos and Christina Beneki investigate an important concern with regards to the factors which are associated with the benefits from the adoption of ICTs amongst SMEs. In a study of the Greek SME sector the paper provides evidence that strategy plays a major role in the adoption and the appropriate use of ICTs.  Importantly their research also finds that prior entrepreneurial experience‑knowledge of ICT is significantly associated with the ICT performance. 

RFID technologies are increasingly used in a number of organisational settings for inventory control and management. Paul Golding and Vanesa Tennant contribute to our understanding of evaluation by proposing a methodology to evaluate the RFID inventory reader in a library.  Whilst the findings of this paper hone in on the application of RFID in a specific environment, the findings provide a basis for which evaluation of RFID in other similar contexts can take place, and thus adds to the conceptual base on RFID performance testing.

Notwithstanding many years of case studies and an increasing body of literature on ERP implementation and evaluation thereof questions continue to arise in respect of successful outcomes.  Brian O’Donovan and his co‑authors argue that during the ERP usage stage the intended efficiencies from ERP systems are not always realised. Having studied organisational memory mismatches and the resultant coping strategies their research posits that mismatches and short‑term coping strategies were found to contribute to ERP underperformance. 

In their paper Peter Weimann and co authors investigate the role of communications culture in a distributed team environment.  In assessing the role of ICTs in such an environment the paper argues that team member satisfaction and team success can only be accomplished if the communication culture in the company takes into account the technologies used and the distributed work setting. 

From amongst the various IS evaluation approaches, those apporaches which focus on the role of human stakeholders  are  worthy of a deeper understanding. Jeffrey Bagraim examines the multiple commitments of information technology knowledge workers and the related outcomes of such commitment. The results of his study challenges managers to review their assumptions about the organizational commitments of information technology knowledge workers.

Web 2.0 applications also receive attention in this issue.  Hooper and Evans investigate the value congruence of social networking services in New Zealand, and make an assessment of ethical information handling.  Their findings demonstrate significant shortcomings in the contractual relationships between the users and social networking services and they argue that this could be exploited in order to misuse personally identifiable data.

The paper by Racheal Lindsay and co‑authors discusses measures which are used to monitor data quality in the context of mobile devices in the UK police force.  Their findings show that whilst there are processes in place to verify data standards, these processes only take into consideration the structural completeness of data, and not other measurements of data quality, such as accuracy, timeliness, relevance, understandability and consistency.

Robbert in't Hout and coauthors studied how a wiki could be used to improve knowledge sharing.  The paper reports on a case study in which a consulting company was able to improve knowledge sharing amongst consultants during the devleopment of a Municipal Traffic and Transport Plan.  The findings  suggest that wikis need to be tuned to the learning styles that are available within the community that will use the tool.  In the context of knowledge sharing impolrtant lessons for wiki design are offered.

Finally, in a study of e‑government adoption, Rangarirai Matavire and co‑authors report on factors which inhibit the successful implementation of e‑government in South Africa. The findings of their research demonstrate that leadership, project fragmentation, perceived value of Information Technology, citizen inclusion and task co‑ordination are among the key inhibitors of e‑government success.

Shaun Pather and Corrie Uys

South Africa, October 2010

 

Keywords: affective commitment, boosting behaviour, communication culture, communication pattern, communication technology, data quality, e-Government, enterprise systems, entrepreneurial experience, ERP customising, ERP systems, ERP training, ERP usage, evaluation, grounded theory, helping behaviour, ICT-adoption, ICT-performance, ICT-strategy, interface design , knowledge management , law enforcement, library, mobile working, Municipal Traffic and Transport Planning, New Zealand Privacy Act 1993, ordinal regression, organisational memory, performance , personal security, personally identifiable information, privacy policies, RFID, social networking services , social software, South Africa, turnover intentions, value congruence, virtual teams, Wiki

 

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