Factors that enable knowledge creation in higher education: a structural model

Date02 July 2018
Publication Date02 July 2018
AuthorFatemeh Narenji Thani,Seyed Mohammad Mirkamali
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Factors that enable knowledge
creation in higher education: a
structural model
Fatemeh Narenji Thani
Department of Educational Administration and Planning,
Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, and
Seyed Mohammad Mirkamali
University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Purpose Knowledge is recognized as a valuable asset and universities are in search of a new strategy that
allows them to build their knowledge and experience. To achieve this goal, it seems essential to find the
factors associated with knowledge creation (KC) in universities. There is currently no comprehensive model
that delineates the relationships between personal, institutional and support-related factors of KC.
The purpose of this paper is to gain a better understanding of the factors that affect KC in higher
education institutions.
Design/methodology/approach This is an explanatory mixed methods approach that consists of
qualitative and quantitative stages. In the qualitative phase, 14 authorities on KC were interviewed and the
data yielded were subjected to content analysis. A model and hypotheses were then formulated and a
questionnaire was developed to test these. The questionnaire was submitted to faculty members of Tehran
University. Questionnaire data were was analyzed using structural equation and partial least squares with
the aid of SmartPLS.
Findings The results showed three main categories of KC factors: institutional, personal and support. A
total of 19 sub-factors were identified within these main categories. According to the results, social capital
(path coefficient ¼0.84) had the strongest correlation with the institutional; basic skills for KC (path
coefficient ¼0.92) had the strongest correlation with the personal, and information and library resources
(path coefficient ¼0.95) had the highest correlation with the support aspect of KC.
Originality/value The study uses a multidimensional approach to test the effect of factors on KC, and can
contribute to organizations (especially universities) through developing a more comprehensive model of KC.
This research may lead to guidelines for universities, using Tehran University as a case study, which give
more attention to the main factors of KC and improve and develop the KC process.
Keywords Faculty,Knowledge creation, Higher education institutions,Structural model, Enabling factors,
Knowledge management
Paper type Research paper
As the world has transformed from the industrial age to the knowledge era, knowledge and
its creation is becoming increasingly important to organizations that want to build a
competitive advantage (Song and Kolb, 2013). Moreover, knowledge and its management
are strategic needs for all organizations seeking to maintain or improve performance
(Sanjaghi et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2001; Secundo et al., 2010, as cited by Rafieepour et al.,
2015). An organization that has the ability to create knowledge on an ongoing basis has
developed a capability that is dynamic and unique, and that potentially underpins
continuous organizational learning (Mitchell and Boyle, 2010; Seo et al., 2016). Over the last
20 years, and since the recognition of the importance of knowledge creation (KC) to
competitive advantage, there has been increasing interest in organizational KC among
academics and managers and there has been signicant progress in developing and testing
many KC theories (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Mytica, 1998; Gasson, 2004; Nakamori,
2000; Ma et al., 2007, as cited by Kikuchi et al., 2007; Soo et al., 2002; Muina et al., 2002;
Oinas-Kukkonen and Oinas, 2004; Sharkie, 2004; Lee and Choi, 2003). The literature
Data Technologies and
Vol. 52 No. 3, 2018
pp. 424-444
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/DTA-10-2016-0068
Received 19 October 2016
Revised 29 May 2017
Accepted 27 May 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
reviewed shows clearly that most studies have aimed to examine the process of KC and its
factors in various organizational settings, and especially in business (Smith et al., 2005;
Nonaka et al., 2000, 2006; Choi and Lee, 2002; Chen, 2008; Pezzillo Iacono et al., 2012; Little
and Deokar, 2016; Kazadi et al., 2016). In contrast to the significant successes and
achievements of KC in the business area, it is only in recent years that state organizations
such as universities and research centers have shown more interest in these issues. In fact,
universities are viewed as the main centers for creating knowledge and training high-level
staff; their major mission as defined by UNESCO remains solely KC (Rego et al., 2009).
However, globalization, the emergence of the knowledge society and accelerating change
require a new model of KC based on a systems approach to thinking and leading in higher
education) Moravec, 2008). Little research has been carried out around the KC process and
its factors in higher education (Nakamori, 2000; Ma et al., 2007; Kikuchi et al., 2007). For this
reason, there is a lack of a comprehensive model capable of demonstrating and measuring
the factors associated with the KC of academic staff in higher education institutions
(Sunaryo, 2006), especially in Iran.
Iranian universities have, so far, taken no measures to gain tacit knowledge, and codified
knowledge has been gathered and organized in an unsystematic way. This weakness in
management has kept most of the valuable assets unknown and out of reach, and has led to
the continued gaps in knowledge (Adli, 2008; Abasszadeh and Moghtadaei, 2009). The lack
of attention to internally produced knowledge and a business approach has incurred
economical loss to the universities and has caused much of this knowledge and scientific
studies to be published by private publications and re-offered to the universities as
informational references (Hazeri and Sarafzade, 2007, as cited by Siadat et al., 2015; Ghanei
et al., 2002; Hamidizade, 2005; Adli, 2008).
A brief overview of KC literature and theoretical foundations show that universities are
facing various challenges such as: a lack of appropriate KC models in academic settings;
unwillingness toallow research costs in universities; a lack of full attention to all dimensions
of KC; and the dependence of KC on personal factors rather than organizational ones in
universities(Rego et al., 2009; Hautala, 2011; Maet al., 2007). Therefore, a key questionarising
from these challenges is this: what are the main factors for successful KC in universities?
Literature review
Knowledge and KC
From a broad viewpoint, knowledge includes structuralized experiences, values, recorded
information and unique opinions from professionals (Davenport and Prusak, 1998). Drucker
(1999) is credited with having said that knowledge is the only meaningful resource in the
knowledge society of the new economy and knowledge becomes power only through
targeted, systematic and organized learn ing. As knowledge becomes increasingly
important, scholars start to pay attention to the process of KC and all the possible
factors that can inuence its success (Hsu, 2006). KC is the process of the generation,
development, implementation, and exploitation of new ideas(Mitchell and Boyle, 2010) and
affects organizational factors such as organizational performance (Sin et al., 2015),
innovation (Song et al., 2013; Bergendahl and Magnusson, 2015; Nguyen et al., 2016) and
organizational success (Song and Kolb, 2009). The literature review shows that most
researchers have focused on knowledge management generally and knowledge sharing
specifically in higher education (Parirokh et al., 2008; Sohail and Daud, 2009; Ugochi Isika
et al., 2013; De Bem et al., 2016; Bhusry and Ranjan, 2012; Tippins, 2003; Raj Adhikari, 2010),
and limited attention has been paid to the influencing factors of KC specifically (Mitchell and
Boyle, 2010; Yi and Jayasingam, 2012). Hence, this section briefly reviews some of the most
important studies relating to the factors that affect KC at both personal and organizational
level in educational settings, especially universities.
creation in

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