Leveraging organizational performance via knowledge management systems platforms in emerging economies. Evidence from the Egyptian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry

Date11 May 2015
Publication Date11 May 2015
AuthorGamal Mohamed Shehata
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Leveraging organizational
performance via knowledge
management systems platforms
in emerging economies
Evidence from the Egyptian Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) industry
Gamal Mohamed Shehata
Department of Business Administration, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of adopting knowledge management
systems (KMSs) on rms’ performance. Although many organizations have adopted the notion of KMS,
there is little evidence on the effect of KMS on a rm’s performance, especially in an emerging economy
like the Egyptian one. An intensive literature review is conducted not only to synthesize but also to
establish the conceptual foundations for the systemic perspective of knowledge management and its
potential impact on knowledge management performance in an emerging information and
communication technology (ICT) industry. This systemic perspective ts with the evolutionary nature
of such an emerging industry in Egypt.
Design/methodology/approach – The empirical study of this work is conducted on knowledge-
intensive rms operating in the eld of ICT. The paper is descriptive in nature where a quantitative
research design is adopted to survey senior managers’ perceptions – from both national and
multinational enterprises operating in Egypt – on the pay-off maintained from creating an integrative
KMS. The primary data are collected from 90 managers holding signicant top positions related to the
knowledge management area. A linear simple regression test is conducted to discover the initial
association between the conceptual model’s key variables.
Findings – The results of this work reveal that there is a positive association between each of the six
elements that constitute a KMS, namely, knowledge: creation, acquisition, codication, sharing,
transfer and measurement, and the perceived knowledge management performance. Besides, there is a
signicant positive association between the adopted total KMS and perceived knowledge management
performance. This study provides strong evidence that KMSs are essential to improve rms’
performance. The results of t-test and analysis of variance assert that the gender, types of business, year
of experience and age of respondents have no signicant difference to perceived knowledge
management performance resulting from KMS.
Research limitations/implications – The ndings reect the fact that informants have to deploy
six components that constitute a KMS to realize improvements in knowledge management
performance. This work also highlights a number of ndings of great value to managers in the ICT
sector. Yet, the empirical study does not cover all the issues which are linked to KMS implementation.
Issues such as culture, trust and leadership role in building a signicant KMS are not examined in this
work. Also, the generalizability of the ndings to other industries must be considered carefully.
Although the ndings are statistically signicant, the framework developed may be quite specic to the
ICT organizations.
Practical implications – This paper enhances managers’ understanding in deploying the notion of
KMSs to leverage their corporate performance. It also provides managers in emerging markets with an
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 27 June 2014
Revised 13 December 2014
12 February 2015
Accepted 22 February 2015
Vol.45 No. 2, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VINE-06-2014-0045
integrative perspective to fundamental issues that encounter them when they put those KMSs into
Social implications – This research advances understanding of the application and benet of KMS
in ICT rms in several ways: it provides a better understanding of KMS and practices currently being
applied in the Egyptian ICT rms. There had been little or no industry-wide empirical research on this
topic to date, it provides a better understanding of knowledge processes in the ICT sector; specically,
the links between knowledge acquisition, creation, codication, sharing, transfer and measurement,
and their links to performance, the measurement instruments developed for this research constitute a
reliable set of construct measures that provide a basis for future research.
Originality/value – This paper advances the knowledge management subject by synthesizing past
studies into an integrative KMS that directs scholars’ attention on how to examine the notion. It is
claimed that KMS help those managers improve core business processes, management decisions and,
accordingly, rms’ performance. Besides, this study suggests a set of implications for managers in an
emerging market that has recently adopted the notion of KMSs. This study also reects the viewpoints
and perceptions of key managers in a strongly evolving knowledge-intensive industry that has an
increasing impact on the GDP of an entire nation throughout the past two decades.
Keywords Egypt, Emerging economies, Knowledge management, Knowledge,
Information and communication technology (ICT), Knowledge management systems
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Today, intangible resources such as knowledge, skills, expertise, digitization,
relationships and organizational learning become very signicant for business
organizations to sustain their competitive advantage and to realize performance
improvements. The efforts to manage knowledge were increasingly addressed with the
existence of past ideas of knowledge-intensive companies, organization learning and
knowledge-based culture (Brewer et al., 1996;Alvesson, 1993). These efforts were
further supported with the emergence of social and group technologies such as e-mail
and instant messaging applications, Internet, intranet and extranet (Alavi and Leidner,
2001;Alvesson and Karreman, 2001;Chen et al., 2004). The knowledge management
(KM) topic is complex because knowledge is acquired and shared on the personal and
organizational level alike. On one hand, knowledge in one of its natures is an object or a
thing, yet it reects a moving dynamic tacit nature at the source. However, limiting
knowledge to only one of its forms, that is, an object, which can be divided into parts and
handled each separately between business units, would dene knowledge as data or
information and this can prevent the creation of new knowledge. Although the literature
is rich in addressing knowledge, yet the topic has always been viewed from one angle
(Hearn et al., 2003). This is due to its difcult nature and the lack of considering all the
different features of knowledge and its components as one related subject of interest
(Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Furthermore, KM scholars have attempted to develop a
rich collective theory that endorse ties to actual practices of information technology,
computer sciences, executive expert systems, management information systems
and business engineering applications (Courtney and Parrish, 2009). These efforts
were also built on the notion of organization learning or what was named
double-loop learning (Brewer et al., 1996;Damodaran and Olphert, 2000. The
increased pace of globalization of a rm’s value chain has also inuenced the
evolution of KM, as it has necessitated the need for integrating a traditionally
isolated experience of various professionals (Ofek and Sarvary, 2001). Areas such as
human resources, innovation, intellectual capital, information management,
intangible resources and competitive intelligence are all labeled to KM subject
(Sajeva, 2010). The KM area is challenging scholars with its problematical
interaction with other elds incorporating organizational learning, strategic
management and innovation (Alvesson and Karreman, 2001). These various labels,
in turn, deepen the complexity and multifaced views in managing knowledge as a
unique corporate intangible asset. Because knowledge is an integral part of all other
organizational aspects, reaching a single workable description of KM becomes not
only difcult to realize but also open a window for more future research
(Martensson, 2000;Lindblom and Tikkanen, 2010). Attempting to address such a
dilemma, this paper views KM as a systematic process linked to a set of steps which
increase the communication and application of knowledge in modern information
and communication technology (ICT) organizations (Desouza, 2003;Faucher et al.,
2008;Scarbrough and Swan, 2001).
2. Literature review and research background
2.1 What is knowledge?
Churchman (1964) had dened knowledge process as data leading to information; which
is analyzed and, thus, communicated, leading to knowledge. Knowledge is seen as a
mode of cognition in which understanding and experiencing of one thing is done in
terms of another (Leidner and Schultz, 2002). Knowledge is considered as a state of mind,
process, object and capability (Nonaka, 1994), and it has a constrained effect if not
transferred to others (Grant and Fuller, 1995;Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Knowledge
represents accumulated facts, routine rules and/or heuristics (a rule of thumb based on
experience); it reects human understanding gained by learning and experience of a
certain eld (Chen, 2009). Moreover, knowledge can be seen as the verication of the
processed information, which persists in an individual mind (Alavi and Leidner, 2001),
and once an individual owns such information, it turns to knowledge (Chalmeta and
Grangel, 2008). Knowledge is thus personalized and it encompasses facts, thoughts,
interpretation, actions and judgments (Abdul-Malak et al., 2005;Alavi and Leidner,
2001). Thus, data are certain facts, information is gained by reasoned deduction with
some uncertainty, while knowledge is concluded induction with more uncertainty and
also, with an increased value when used (Anantatmula, 2009;Carroll and Henry, 1975;
Choi et al., 2004;Nonaka and Peltokorpi, 2006;Kumar and Thondikulam, 2006). The
resulting awareness helps people acquire skills and develop efciencies and abilities
needed for certain situations like working in problem-solving or grab an opportunity by
good decision formulation (Chalmeta and Grangel, 2008;Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).
Such a gained awareness helps people acquire new skills and develop efciencies and
abilities needed for certain situations like problems solving or seize an opportunity by
good decision-making (Chalmeta and Grangel, 2008). Knowledge cannot thus be
administered as an object that is separated from human actions rather it is an
organizational mind which represents a web with interrelated activities (Leidner and
Schultz, 2002). Davenport and Prusak (1998) stated that knowledge can be dened as a
owing combination of structured experiences and values. The conversion of
information inside individuals’ minds becomes knowledge, and knowledge presentation
taking the shape of text, words or any other symbolic form is information (Alavi and
Leidner, 2001). Although it might seem as if the issue is beyond agreement, yet what

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