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IRC Seminar, presented by Dr Mona Ashok and Rohit Madan: "How to counter organisational inertia to enable knowledge management practices adoption in public sector organisations"

Event information
Date 16 December 2020
Time 12:30-13:30 (Timezone: Europe/London)
Price Free
Venue Online
Event types:


Purpose: Knowledge management (KM) is associated with higher performance and innovative culture; KM can help public sector to be fiscally lean and meet diverse stakeholders’ needs. However, hierarchical structures, bureaucratic culture and rigid processes inhibit KM adoption and generate inertia. This study explores the nature and causes of this inertia within the context of UAE public sector.

Methodology/approach: Using an in-depth case study of a UAE public sector organisation, this study explores how organisational inertia can be countered to enable knowledge management adoption. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with 17 top- and middle-level managers from operational, management and strategic levels. Interview data is triangulated with content analysis from multiple sources, including the UAE government and case organisation documents.

Findings: The results show transformation leadership, external factors, and organisational culture mediate the negative effect of inertia on KM practices adoption. We find that information technology plays a key role in enabling knowledge creation, access, adoption and sharing. Furthermore, we uncover a virtuous cycle between organisational culture and KM practices adoption in public sector. In addition, we develop a new model (relationship between KM practices, organisational inertia, organisational culture, transformational leadership traits and external factors), and four propositions for empirical testing by future researchers. We also present a cross-case comparison of our results with six private/quasi-private sector cases who have implemented KM practices.

Originality/value: Inertia in public section is a result of bureaucracy and authority bounded by the rules and regulations. Adopting a qualitative methodology and case study method, the research explores the phenomena of how inertia impacts KM adoption in public sector environments. Our findings reveal the underlying mechanisms of how internal and external organisational factors impact inertia. Internally, supportive organisational culture and transformational leadership traits positively effect KM adoption, which in turn has a positive effect on organisational culture to counter organisational inertia. Externally, a progressive national culture, strategy, and policy can support a knowledge-based organisation that embraces change. This study develops a new model (interactions between internal and external factors impacting KM practices in public sector), four propositions and a new two-stage process model for KM adoption in public sector. We present a case-comparison of how the constructs interact in a public sector as compared to six private/quasi-private sector cases from literature.

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Short Bios on Presenters:

Dr Mona Ashok is a Lecturer in Operations Management at Henley Business School, UK. She has extensive industry experience, having worked at senior management level in global IT and BPO organisations, and Accounting firm. She has worked with customers in Asia, Australia, Europe and Northern America. Mona’s experience in Higher Education includes working with doctoral, post-experienced postgraduate and undergraduate programme members. Her professional and academic projects cover topics such as: process improvement, programme management, knowledge management, financial management, organisational transformation, and management consulting.

Rohit Madan is a PhD student at Henley Business School, University of Reading conducting research on innovation management in public sector environments. Prior to pursuing a doctorate, Rohit has extensive experience in management consulting, project management, and technology deployments in both public and private sector organisations.

Paper co-authored with:

Dr Mouza Al Badi is Knowledge Systems Department Manager at Human Resources Authority, Abu Dhabi, UAE. She has extensive experience in both knowledge management and strategic fields. Mouza is an expert negotiator leading teams in complex dealings, and building close-knit workgroups, fostering collaboration, tirelessly bridging class and culture. She has been a member of The Cultural Committee of UNESCO (Middle East) from 2012- 2015 and Shaikh Mohamed Bin Khalid Cultural Centre from 1997 till present.

Dr. Michael D. Dzandu is a Research Fellow in Digital Business at the University of Westminster, UK. His research interest spans technology, culture and human behaviour. His current research activities are in the areas of ontology, data and information modelling, digital twins and Industry 4.0 technologies. He holds a PhD in Business Informatics and his PhD research was in context-based information systems for knowledge activities, with theoretical foundations in Semiotics and the Theory of Human Behaviour.