Knowledge management : a residential aged care perspective
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This research explores perceptions of knowledge management processes held by managers and employees in a service industry. To date, empirical research on knowledge management in the service industry is sparse. This research seeks to examine absorptive capacity its four absorptive capacity capabilities of acquisition, assimilation, transformation and exploitation and their impact on effective knowledge management. All of these capabilities are strategies that enable external knowledge to be recognised, imported and integrated into, and further developed within the organisation effectively.The research tests the relationships between absorptive capacity and effective knowledge management through analysis of quantitative data (n=549) drawn from managers and employees in 35 Residential Aged Care organisations in Western Australia. Responses were analysed using Partial Least Square-based Structural Equation Modelling. Additional analysis was conducted to assess if the job role (of manager or employee) and three industry context variables of profit motive, size of business and length of time the organisation has been in business, impacted on the hypothesised relationships.Structural model analysis examined the relationships between variables as hypothesised in the research framework. Analysis found that absorptive capacity and the four capabilities correlated significantly with effective knowledge management, with absorptive capacity explaining 56% of the total variability for effective xiv knowledge management. Findings from this research also show that absorptive capacity and the four capabilities provide a useful framework for examining knowledge management in the service industry. Additionally, there were no significant differences in the perceptions held between managers and employees, nor between respondents in for-profit and not-for-profit organisations. Furthermore, the size of the organisation and length of time the organisation has been in business did not impact on absorptive capacity, the four capabilities and effective knowledge management.The research considers implications for business in light of these findings. The role of managers in providing leadership across the knowledge management process was confirmed, as well as the importance of guiding routines and knowledge sharing throughout the organisation. Further, the results indicate that within the participating organisations there are discernable differences in the way that some organisations manage their knowledge, compared to others. To achieve effective knowledge management, managers need to provide a supportive workplace culture, facilitate strong employee relationships, encourage employees to seek out new knowledge, continually engage in two-way communication with employees and provide up to date policies and procedures that guide employees in doing their work. The implementation of knowledge management strategies have also been shown in this research to enhance the delivery and quality of residential aged care.
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