Knowledge Management within the UK Oil Industry: A case study on Knowledge Management implementation within OILEX Ltd

Publication Date01 April 2000
Date01 April 2000
AuthorJudith M Smith,Lisa Duncan
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Management within
the UK Oil Industry:
A case study on
implementation within
by Judith M Smith and Lisa Duncan,
Centre for Knowledge Management,
The Robert Gordon University
A study was carried out at OILEX from
September to November 1999 which
examined the extent to which the organisation
was capturing and sharing its knowledge and
experience. Evidence suggested that OILEX
was capturing its experience, but sharing of
this experience is limited. There was a need to
recognise at top level that transforming
"individual experience" into "corporate
knowledge" is critical to the long-term
competitiveness of
organisation. This
paper outlines approaches to knowledge
capture and sharing within OILEX at present,
and discusses the recommendations that
were made in ways of levering the
organisation's competitiveness for the future.
External factors such as general trends in the
falling recruitment, an ageing
workforce and use of contract workers have all
made an impact on sustaining knowledge and
experience within
Internal factors
such as working culture, the specific demands
of project work and the organisational
structure are also
In a competitive environment, maximising all of
the company's assets is crucial. This paper
suggests ways in which OILEX can benefit
from individual experience through its
transformation into group learning, and
discusses the implications for the company in
adopting a programme of capturing and
sharing learning. It goes on to highlight the
ways in which more effective Knowledge
Management impacts directly on savings in
avoids duplication of work already
carried out and allows the whole organisation
to learn from previous mistakes. Ultimately,
such learning leads to greater efficiency and
productivity. Different teams within the
organisation are able to draw on the learning
of others to respond more quickly
They can then transfer their learning back into
the knowledge
thereby contributing to a
constantly evolving "memory
The need for organisations to effectively manage
the information that they use has long been recog-
nised along with the realisation that a
well-managed information flow contributes to the
ultimate efficiency of a company. OILEX1, an
international oil firm based in Aberdeen, appreci-
ated the extent to which they capture and utilise
their knowledge and experience could have a direct
impact on their competitiveness and success.
Nevertheless, understanding how to capture and
more importantly share information in order to
improve competitive position is by no means a
simple task. OILEX were aware that they were
capturing knowledge, but were concerned that the
extent to which information was being shared was
Ultimately the effective use of knowledge within a
company leads to the creation of wealth through
intellectual capital. Central to the success of such
enterprise are the people involved in it. Without
the "buy in" of all members of the organisation, a
Knowledge Management solution will fail. Funda-
mentally, organisations need to record what their
workforce as individuals and teams know, so that
others can learn from this.
OILEX's problem emanated from recognition of
the potential value of "experience transfer" from

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