Knowledge Transfer in Project-Based Organizations

Abstract

Knowledge transfer is the passing of knowledge from one person or party to another. According to Ajmal and Koskinen (2008), there are two types of knowledge; tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. While explicit knowledge can be shared and transmitted from one source to another, tacit knowledge resides deep inside an individual and cannot be conveyed in any means. This paper will mainly deal with explicit knowledge and the benefits, techniques and hindrances in transferring the same.

Summary

The article “Knowledge transfer in project-based organizations: An organizational culture perspective” by Mian Ajmal and Kaj Koskinen is one that vastly explores one of the least discussed topics in management; knowledge transfer. The article discusses this topic in the concept of project-based organizations, where different people from equally diverse backgrounds, professions and skills meet to execute a task for a specific period of time. Mian and Koskinen argue out that it is necessary to compile data that indicates the skills, knowledge, weaknesses and strengths from a particular project that will go a long way in helping to handle another similar project.

According to Ajmal and Koskinen (2008), knowledge transfer helps to allay repetition of previous mistakes in a project and contributes towards more effective performance. The authors further point out that the project manager should implement appropriate measures that would facilitate knowledge transfer. The article also explains obstacles to knowledge transfer in project-based organizations as budget and time constraints, individual and social barriers, lack of motivation and lack of proper leadership. Towards the end, the article looks at the role that the organizational culture of an organization plays in knowledge transfer.

Key Learning Points

The article has a lot to offer as a far as knowledge transfer is concerned. It vividly describes this concept and goes ahead to identify and illustrate various aspects linked to it. First and foremost, the article shades some light on the reason behind both the failure and success of projects in project-based organizations. In this case, the authors of the article clearly explain that project failures are caused by lack of knowledge transfer and poor knowledge management. The projects fail because those in charge of them do not make a point of documenting the entire processes of previous projects. The recorded step by step proceedings of earlier projects can serve as guidelines while carrying out subsequent projects.

This is irrespective of whether the projects were successful or not. If they were successful, the project managers can use the strategies used in the previous successful projects to achieve the same in the then current project. On the other hand, a failed previous project is also important because the documents and records would show the failures, weaknesses and barriers that contributed to its failure. The management will then do all it takes to avoid a repeat of the same.

Secondly, the article highlights the duties of those at the helm of the project in ensuring that the current project and the following projects are a success. The main issue tackled here is the harnessing of the different skills of employees in the project and then taking initiatives to create room for knowledge transfer. Of most significance is the collection, organization and keeping of data concerning every detail in the project.

The main challenge that faces the manager at this stage is the mobilization of each and every employee to participate in the process. The goals of the manager are not achieved with the compilation of data. He or she has to make an effort of referring to the data in the next projects. Another challenge here is the interpretation of the data. Since the data is from several departments and the manager may only have specialized in one field, other experts are required to interpret it.

The manager will have a hard time tracing out the employees who worked with him in the previous projects because they disperse once the project is completed. An even more serious problem will arise if the manager fails to find people who can efficiently fill their positions. And even if the manager finds them, the organization will be forced to spend extra time and resources to train them and update them.

Critical Analysis Of The Article

A critical analysis of this article will reveal the fact that it is better to adopt the practice of knowledge transfer rather than drop it and experience stagnated growth of the organization. The article has well-defined reasons as to why knowledge transfer is of much significance to any organization that aspires to grow and avoid a repetition of its past mistakes. This is the first reason why knowledge transfer is important. A project-based organization that considers knowledge transfer will not be exposed to risks that come with uncertainties in the labour market. For instance, such an organization won’t be much affected if one of its key employees passes on or leaves the company. The organization will simply get another person and train him or her according to the information recorded by the previous employee.

Knowledge transfer is also important because it builds on the knowledge and skills of virtually everyone involved in the project. The rationale of this importance is the assumption that interpersonal social relationships lead to the creation and sharing of knowledge. It is also based on the assumption that knowledge can be passed on in a variety of ways other than verbal communication. One of these avenues is through observation and interaction. If this assumption is true, then it can be succinctly inferred that no one can hide knowledge. As a matter of fact, knowledge is contagious.

Practical Implications

A practical application of knowledge transfer in a project-based organization is the surest way to take the organization to higher heights of efficiency. In a real business world where job seekers enter and leave the market daily and new organizations are set up daily too, no project manager can be certain of what the future holds for the employees working on a project. It is possible that any employee can abandon the project and go for a better job in another organization. Such an unstable business world makes it necessary for the manager to get set for anything. One major way of getting set is through the adoption of knowledge transfer.

Lessons From The Analysis

The main lesson learnt from the analysis of this article is the part played by an organizational culture in achieving knowledge transfer. Since each single decision made in a project-based organization is influenced with its organizational culture, the impact of the latter is felt in the whole process of knowledge transfer. An organizational culture therefore has the potential of restraining or facilitating knowledge transfer in an organization. In addition, creating awareness among employees on the organizational culture of the organization may arouse a need to make learning and hence knowledge transfer a natural process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be seen from the foregoing analysis that knowledge transfer is an invaluable practice to project-based organizations. It facilitates the recording, documenting and sharing of information that will impart knowledge in workers at a time of need. Knowledge transfer also acts as insurance to an organization against the uncertainties of the labour market. Finally, knowledge transfer is the impetus that propels an organization to grow through innovation and application of knowledge learnt.

Reference List

Ajmal, M. M. and Koskinen, K.U. (2008). Knowledge transfer in project-based organizations: An organizational culture perspective. Project Management Journal, 39(1), 7-15. Web.