Knowledge Management (KM) has been extensively researched for more than two decades, however the academic literature is still quite disjoined and fragmented. Companies keep facing repetitive KM-related problems that come at high cost, and the solutions that they find are often reduced to installing a new software package that is expected to facilitate knowledge flow across an organisation.
This research departs from a problem observed in practice – a failed KM project in an innovative company, and aims at understanding the reasons behind this failure. It then investigates KM within some of the most innovative companies in the energy sector in an attempt to address the questions found in practice and not answered by the academic literature. Subsequently it sets the following research goals, which help to address identified gaps in the literature: (1) to understand the KM journey that companies undertake, (2) to define the role of technology in this journey, and (2) to explore gamification as a possible contributing aspect of a developed solution.
The research adopts an iterative approach in a form of continuous dialogue between theory and practice, with multiple case study analysis as the research design of the main part of the empirical investigation. And as a result, it develops an organic roadmap of KM that depicts an evolution of KM in innovative companies at the example of the energy sector.
This research contributes of the body of knowledge by:
1. Describing a KM journey that innovative companies in the energy sector undertake in order to achieve excellence, and that consists of three phases: managing explicit knowledge, knowledge sharing and creating new knowledge.
2. Demonstrating that technological component (document repositories) is central to KM only in the first phase and becomes peripheral (with the most useful tool being wikis) starting from the second phase.
3. Opening a new area of research and suggesting that gamification might have a significant impact on KM that stretches far beyond motivation.
4. Questioning that maturity models are an appropriate framework to study the evolution of KM in an organisation.
The research contributes to practice by demonstrating that KM is a learning process rather than a one-time initiative and by creating realistic expectations from the technological support.
The extent of the contribution was discussed with the companies-participants of this study and the board of directors at Durham Energy Institute, being a validation of the findings.