Linking learner autonomy and conditions for learning in the workplace: Knowledge management systems as organizing circumstances
Carolyn Ann Palmer, The George Washington University, United States
The George Washington University . Awarded
External pressures on academic and management communities demand appropriate, specific, and quickly accessible knowledge transfer for “best possible” business decisions. Large amounts of money are spent by organizations on knowledge transfer activities that fail upon implementation. One reason may be that organizations have assumed that databases would be used by employees as resources to transfer knowledge. Results of this study clearly show that this is not the case.
This study investigated how learning characteristics of employees influence their use (or non-use), of a knowledge management database (KMDB). Data was collected from technical manufacturing employees (n = 96), using G.J. Confessore's Learner Autonomy Profile (2001), and a questionnaire derived from Spear and Mocker's (1984) organizing circumstances. Participants completed the LAP and additional questions through the Internet. Participants indicated that they did not use the database as a resource because their perceptions of the database as a problem-solving mechanism precluded knowledge transfer. Results indicated learners were very much in control of their own learning and had a high need to control their learning resources. The study also provided new data through the creation of learning condition 5, indicating the non-use of a KMDB.
These results present intriguing questions regarding the relationship between individuals' learning proclivities and workplace conditions. A company's knowledge base can be powerful when individual tacit knowledge is transferred into globally shared knowledge bases. However, this study has shown that learning tools can easily be blindsided by limitations of perspectives of learning and of the environment within a company. This study also demonstrated that applying the right tools in appropriate circumstances could provide unexpected gains toward profit and progress in both educational and organizational environments. Future research can identify learner characteristics and learning environment influences that enable knowledge transfer from employees' heads to company knowledge bases before employees walk out the door.
Palmer, C.A. Linking learner autonomy and conditions for learning in the workplace: Knowledge management systems as organizing circumstances. Ph.D. thesis, The George Washington University.
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