Knowledge management (KM) simply refers to an area of study that promotes an integrated move towards identifying, examining, obtaining, and distributing an organization’s precise and tactic knowledge resources to meet its mission targets. It involves leveraging knowledge to optimize managerial efficacy and competence. On the other hand, knowledge management institutionalization (KMI) involves the process of changing the outcome of previous KM projects into a set of organizational, strategic and logical institutional activities. The process of successfully institutionalizing KM programs involves almost an entire transformation of the institution’s processes, culture and employees’ personalities (Koenig & Srikantaiah, 2004). However, it involves two basic steps made up of, constructing KM vision, and creating KM guidelines with the key scientific and managerial components to be improvised. In fact, Leidner and Alavi (2001) simplify KM as a process of knowledge creation, storage and retrieval, application, and transfer. Discussed below are the possible programs that were be institutionalized by the missionaries of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Malaysia to realize the efficient implementation of the KM strategies for sufficient KM.
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In order to, sufficiently institutionalize the knowledge management strategies in the Malaysian Church, missionaries for the migrant workers implemented the following KM strategies. First, we were involved in the activities of realigning the Church budget and structure that included the following tasks; we decided to organize active evangelistic campaigns for the migrant workers involving them in ministerial efforts for the humble and poor employees. These activities were aimed at providing financial support to ease the economical crisis that the UMC in Malaysia underwent. However, the whole process was met with many obstacles including, inadequate personnel, and a lack of incentives and donations to the workers by the church management. At this stage, it was vital to link all the knowledge management projects (KMP) with the church logic units, for instance, the bible study groups (BSGs) were created in line with the church requirements (Krogh, Ochijo & Nonaka, 2000). These bible study groups assisted the church through numerous ways including, acting as a direct link between the church management and their members and creating outreach projects that led to an increase in the number of believers hence, increasing the economical power of the UMC in Malaysia.
As the UMC leaders in Malaysia, we sat down and formulated policies that were designed to improvise the budget and to help in the payment of the knowledge management efforts within the Church. For example, the Church came up with a leadership-training program that was meant to teach the migrant workers four applicable leadership training including, computer technological advancements, behavioral and cultural citizenship, outreach ministries and English language communication (Davenport, De Long, & Beers, 1998). These programs were designed to increase the disciples’ leadership capabilities, especially in the bible study groups. These policies met many challenges mainly from the local Malaysian community because most of these training was new to them therefore, they received lots of criticism from a section of the locals who were strict observers of their socio-cultural ways of living; it was hard for them to abandon their native languages for the sake of studying English. This prompted the leaders to develop many infrastructures and plans including, projects and local applications (Koenig & Srikantaiah, 2004). For instance, the United Methodist Church in Malaysia formulated a number of policies to fight the social injustices including, emotional and economical support to the victims of the prevalent human trafficking in Malaysia, preaching and sending messages of hope to the prisoners in jails, outreach ministries to condemn the daily evils like corruption, harassment, rapes and many others. These strategies helped the church to sell its reputation and plans for the people of Malaysia hence reducing the levels of hostility amongst the locals.
The Church leaders played a very important role in the implementation of the UMC policies in that, they enhanced skill-building and management costs in the church by advising the church to institute other educational facilities including, computer classes for the migrant workers in Seremban, prayers and bible study cells, communal worship and baptismal classes for the new church members. These activities were meant to boost the knowledge levels of their subjects and to help the knowledge management force to work smoothly in the church by adding knowledge distribution objectives to performance assessment (Goldsmith, Morgan &Ogg. 2004). To institutionalize the knowledge management initiatives, the Church leaders decided to support institutional legitimization by connecting the knowledge management project with the mission plan of the church, with a key aim of cooperating with different cultures in the church services to expand the church in Malaysia. The church missionary leaders also decided to allocate decision rights to knowledge groups in the church, for example, the bible study group was authorized to conduct their devotions even in prison cells. This, in turn, led to a rise in the employees’ knowledge-based competition attesting to their autonomy hence, enhancing theirs KM capabilities in the church (Cohen, Spreitzer & Ledford, 1996). In fact, Duguid and Brown (1991) argue that for organizations and communities to function efficiently, the leaders must support and legitimize the performances of various organizational activities by their members, and support sober decisions made by their staff, leaders and employees.
Another important strategy involved the development of clear communication strategies between the church leaders and the members in Malaysia. This made the employees and missionaries view and appreciate how knowledge was managed within the church and the passage of communication. The management decided to involve the use of print media including, use of brochures, newsletters, booklets and magazines to communicate the church goals, mission and developmental progress in Malaysia. The strategies included the use of elaborate surveys, interviews and workshops to enhance proper information gathering concerning the church growth (Prusak & Davenport, 1998). As knowledge management practitioners, the church leaders should be very keen when using the existing processes since, the organizational missions always tend to communicate existing features, organizational units and communicating tools while each leader is always tasked to chip in with new Knowledge managerial skills in the church.
Institutionalizing knowledge management, therefore, involves effectively controlling and allocating authority on the KM projects; it obviously rises above enabling knowledge groups and right decision-making to the ability of the Malaysian UMC leaders to absorb brand new practices used to expand the church membership by carefully designing numerous knowledge groups and decision rights. It is also crucial that, as a leader, you check the internal and external environmental factors affecting the execution of knowledge management strategies, and understand all the knowledge management initiatives and construct competent series of actions for victorious knowledge management institutionalization.
Alavi, M., & Leidner, D. (2001). Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues. 25: pg. 107-136.
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