Case Study / Take Home Exercise – 7 of Lesson – 7
MITS5505 Exercise 7
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Task 1: Implementation of Knowledge Management
7.1 Give your views on failure of implementation of knowledge management at a global company based
on five distinct stages of knowledge management:
Stage 1: Advocate and learn
Stage 2: Develop strategy
Stage 3: Design and launch KM initiatives
Stage 4: Expand and support initiatives
Stage 5: Institutionalize knowledge management
Case study: A global company (Source: Chua, A. and Lam, W., “Why KM projects fail: a multi-case analysis”, Journal of Knowledge
Management, vol. 9, no. 3 (2005).)
A global company, which was one of the top ten organizations in its industry, lost a number of
deals because of its inability to offer integrated solutions in the order handling line of business. In
response, the management commissioned a KM project known as Alpha with the objective to create a
“blueprint for gaining and maintaining global order handling services market leadership”. Underpinning
Alpha was a comprehensive attempt to manage the knowledge across the company.
Within Alpha several functions and teams such as business architecture, IT and knowledge
content and design were formed. One of Alpha’s priorities was to build a network of “knowledge-enabled
worktables” to provide staff customized access to Alpha’s knowledge base. Due to the teething problem
of using new technology and the poor translation of design requirements to system functionalities, the IT
team could not complete the first worktable for the sales function on schedule. Meanwhile, the
knowledge content and design team had already developed a large amount of content. Fearing that the
delay could dampen interest in KM, the team engaged a vendor to develop an intranet system as a quick
alternative to making its content available. This move was perceived by the IT team as an invasion into its
territory. Furthermore, the intranet was treated with skepticism from the rest of the functions in Alpha.
By the end of the year, the viability of the worktable was in doubt. Given the high dependence and
unsustainable expenditure on external IT resources, Alpha was perceived to be losing control over its ITrelated
projects. Thus, the management curtailed the worktable project and disbanded Alpha completely
when it eventually lost faith in knowledge management.
The main reasons for the failure of Alpha were as follows:
• Knowledge was managed within silo-oriented communities. Thus, business-critical
knowledge that straddled across multiple functional groups was neglected.
• There was an over-reliance on IT systems to manage knowledge in Alpha. Tacit knowledge
and behavioral issues, on the other hand, received insufficient attention.
• Three different external consulting firms were engaged at different stages of Alpha’s
development. Inputs from these consultants confounded instead of facilitated the KM
• As time passed, the cost to sustain the KM initiative ballooned beyond control. The
management decided to cut its losses and terminated the initiative altogether.