The Human Factor in KM4Dev


The Human Factor in KM4Dev

This group will discuss the human and the cultural side of knowledge management for development.

Location: Worldwide
Members: 85
Latest Activity: Dec 24, 2015

Why focus on the human factor?

"What has tended to happen in development is that organizations have generally leaned towards linear and technocentric interpretations of KM, more in line with the descriptive early traditions of knowledge management and organizational development or ‘institution building’" (Hovland, 2003)

"Careful attention is needed to the processes by which values and purpose are defined and articulated so as to create an enabling environment for knowledge management to succeed. Without these processes, organizational learning and knowledge management merely become toolkits and methodologies in a vacuum" (Pasteur et al., 2006). There is also a need to better understand how knowledge and learning may practically address and deal with issues of personality, culture, language, religion, and so on (Ramalingam 2005).

As Davenport and Prusak (1998) put it: “Effective knowledge management cannot take place without extensive behavioral, cultural and organizational change (…) Technology alone won’t make a person with expertise share with others. Technology alone won’t get an employee who is uninterested in seeking knowledge to hop onto a keyboard and searching or browsing.”

Knowledge management is first and foremost a people issue. Does the culture of your organization support ongoing learning and knowledge sharing? Are people motivated and rewarded for creating, sharing and using knowledge? Is there a culture of openness and mutual respect and support? Or is your organization very hierarchical where ‘knowledge is power’ and so people are reluctant to share? Are people under constant pressure to act with no time for knowledge-seeking or reflection? Do they feel inspired to innovate and learn from mistakes, or is there a strong ‘blame and shame’ culture?

These questions are essential to ask and to solve. There is a need to further understand the reasons why people engage in knowledge sharing behavior.

Let's use this group to share articles, insights and experiences to shine a light on the human factor in knowledge management for development!


Survey on Virtual communities of practice (VCoPs) knowledge sharing

Dear Km4dev members:This is to humbly remind you to participate in the survey on knowledgesharing within VCoPs. I will really appreciate if you take a few of yourminutes to fill in the questionnarire…Continue

Started by Hermon Ogbamichael Apr 27, 2011.

How to nurture the human factor in KM?! Good question!

In my world :-) I think two main things should be in place:- Leadership needs to support knowledge management- HRM systems need to support knowledge managementWithout those two, your organization…Continue

Tags: culture, humanfactor, hrm, leadership

Started by Johan Lammers Jun 18, 2009.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of The Human Factor in KM4Dev to add comments!

Comment by James Cohen on August 31, 2009 at 10:00am
I read your blog post on motivating users and I have to cite one issue. You mention that 'not having the time' to use a knowledge management system shouldn't be a an answer for why people don't use it. However, I've been conducting some phone interviews with practitioners to get a sense of what they would want in a system and how they would use it, or not. When asking if they would or would not use the system, for those who say they wouldn't I am often actually faced with the comment that they just wouldn't have the time. Of course the idea is to persuade people that they do in fact have the time so long as the product is quality, however it's a bit of a psychological hurdle. Let's face it, people are busy and even if good information is out there a lot people don't want to take the time to 'explore'. If they know where to go and information can be found easily than the time obstical is cut down to some degree, but still remains. So I would just caution on dismissing the rationality of 'not having enough time'. It is in fact a major issue to contend with.

Comment by James Cohen on August 13, 2009 at 4:08pm
Nacy, how do I 'tune in' to this e-mail list?
Comment by Nancy White on August 13, 2009 at 4:03pm
James and Anita, if you haven't already, you might want to "tune in" to the current KM4Dev email list around "lessons learnt" as it is spot on about the issues you are thinking about!
Comment by James Cohen on August 13, 2009 at 10:49am
Hi, I'm hoping to get people's experiences on motivating users of a knowledge management system to upload lessons learned, best practices, or even make comments. My organisation is a mulilateral innitiative in the field of security sector reform with donors from around the world. We're trying to develop an on-line knowledge management system to distribute our materials, but also to allow headquaters and field practitioners to make comments on these materials, submit best practices and lessons learned from using the materials, ad also participate in on-line forums.

What I'm really trying to wrap my head around at the moment is the 'why bother' question for submitting best practices and lessons learned. It's essentially a voluntary basis and people in the field are busy. So what incentives are there to get people who aren't even properly part of our organisation to contribute their thoughts? Other organisations either pay, or their direct staff are mandated to make submissions. We don't have either one of those options available.

Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated! Thanks!
Comment by Roxanna Samii on June 29, 2009 at 8:07am
The human side of KM is absolutely fascinating. I recently did a blogpost about the 'psychology' of knowledge sharing:

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