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An Indian Perspective


Dissertation submitted to Oxford Brookes University for the partial

fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of MASTER OF


April, 2010.


This dissertation is a product of my work and is the result of

nothing done in collaboration.

I consent to University‘s free use of the whole or any part of

item of this Dissertation, to include online or electronic

reproduction and adaptation for teaching and education activities.

I agree that this dissertation may be available for reference and

photocopying at the discretion of the University.


Word Length: 21,058 words.


I‘d like to thank my supervisor Dr. Hassall for the multiple

reviews and the invaluable comments that he provided. He was

always present to help me and in ensuring that I tried my best.

I‘d also like to thank all the participants in the research for

their time and thoughts.

Finally, I‘d like to thank my wife for being so

understanding and my family for providing me the encouragement

and support while working on the dissertation.


Knowledge management as a discipline has met with

varying levels of success and failure. Web 2.0 is a disruptive

new concept. With its emphasis on sharing and collaboration and

foundation on 'user generated content', it promises to promote a

bottom-up culture of knowledge sharing.

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine if Web 2.0

is aiding in the process of Knowledge Management, from the

perspective of India based organizations. India being a preferred

IT outsourcing destination provides an interesting case study on

the adoption of Knowledge Management. Being a recent entrant,

Web 2.0 could help in better designing the Knowledge

Management practices. The purpose of research is to address

the question of whether using Web 2.0 concepts, tools and

technologies is aiding in the Knowledge Management effort in the

India-based IT organizations.

This findings of the dissertation is based on the survey

conducted on 19 people across various organizational segments

of India based IT organizations coupled with the viewpoints and

experiences of two senior managers.


Declaration…………………………………………...……………….…….. ii




List of Tables……………………………………………………………….. ix

List of Figures….………………………………...………………...……..….x

1 Introduction .................................................................................. 15

1. Literature Review ........................................................................ 18

2.1 Knowledge and ‗knowledge creating company‘ ................. 18

2.2 The Learning Organization .................................................. 21

2.2.1 Individual and organizational learning .......................... 23

2.2.2 Types of organizational learning .................................. 24

2.2.3 From Organization Learning to Knowledge

Management ................................................................................ 27

2.3 Knowledge Management ...................................................... 27

2.3.1 Structure, Culture & Technology in KM ...................... 28

2.4 Challenges with Knowledge Management .......................... 38

2.5 Collaboration, participation and Web 2.0 ........................... 42

2.5.1 What is Web 2.0? ......................................................... 42

2.5.2 Principles and Characteristics of Web 2.0 .................. 43

2.5.3 Organizational Structure & Culture and Web 2.0 ...... 46

2.5.4 Technology and Web 2.0 ............................................. 49

2.5.5 Current Usage of Web 2.0........................................... 52

2.5.6 Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management ....................... 57

2.5.7 Challenges with Web 2.0.............................................. 60

2.5.8 Web 2.0: Suggestions & Best Practices for usage ... 64

2.6 India – National Culture ...................................................... 68

2.7 India – Knowledge Management & Web 2.0 .................... 71

3 Research ..................................................................................... 76

3.1 Research Objectives ............................................................. 77

3.2 Research Methodology ......................................................... 78

3.3 Research Design .................................................................. 80

3.3.1 Questionnaire Survey – Design & Rationale ................... 81

3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews – Design & Rationale ........... 87

4 Research Findings ...................................................................... 90

4.1 Web 2.0 and KM – Employees perspective ........................... 90

4.1.1 Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture .. 92

4.1.2 Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management ...... 96

4.1.3 Web 2.0 – Perception and Usage ............................ 102

4.1.4 Survey Summary .......................................................... 109

4.2 Web 2.0 and KM – Management Perspective................ 112

4.2.1 About KM – Current state and challenges ............... 112

4.2.2 Where does Web 2.0 fit in? ...................................... 116

4.2.3 Challenges in Web 2.0 adoption ............................... 118

4.2.4 Web 2.0 and unanticipated benefits .......................... 123

4.2.5 Summary of Interviews .................................................. 123

4.3 Putting it all together – a case study ............................. 126

4.4 Discussion ........................................................................... 134

4.4.1 Best Practices based on Research ........................... 134

4.4.2 Web 2.0 based KM system - Implementation

framework .................................................................................. 138

5 Conclusions ............................................................................... 142

6 Research Limitations ................................................................. 145

7 Further Research ....................................................................... 146

8 References ................................................................................ 148

9 Appendix.................................................................................... 160

9.1 Semi-structured Interview Questionnaire ........................... 160

9.2 Questionnaire with summarized responses ......................... 162


Table ……...………………………………………………………….. page

1 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS...................................................... 38

2 ISSUES WITH KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT ............................................. 41

3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND SURVEY QUESTIONS................................. 84

4 METHODOLOGY FOR QUESTIONNAIRE RESEARCH ................................. 85

5 QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSE SUMMARY ................................................. 91

6 W EB 2.0 TECHNOLOGIES IN USE........................................................ 118

7 W EB 2.0 / KM PRODUCTS IN USE ...................................................... 122



1 SINGLE LOOP LEARNING .................................................................. 24

2 DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING .................................................................. 25

3 TRIPLE LOOP LEARNING.................................................................... 26

4 W EB 2.0 CHARACTERISTICS (SOURCE: O'RIELLY, 2007) ................. 44

5 NEW REALIZATION ON EMERGENCE .................................................. 46

6 TYPICAL TAG CLOUD ........................................................................ 51

7 W EB 2.0 TOOLS (SOURCE: CHUI, ET AL., 2009) ............................. 52

8 W EB 2.0 USAGE (SOURCE: BUGHIN, ET AL., 2008) ........................ 53

9 INTERNAL USE FOR W EB 2.0 (SOURCE: BUGHIN, ET AL., 2008) ...... 54


AL., 2008) .................................................................................... 55

11 ADOPTION OF W EB 2.0 (SOURCE: LEVY, 2009) ............................ 56


..................................................................................................... 57

13 W EB 2.0 AND KM (SOURCE: LEVY, 2008) .................................... 58

14 GAPS BETWEEN W EB 2.0 AND KM (SOURCE: LEVY, 2008) .......... 59

15 GARTNER HYPE CYCLE, (SOURCE: GARTNER, 2009)..................... 63

16 W EB 2.0 BEST PRACTICES ............................................................ 67


(SOURCE: BUDHWAR, 2001) ......................................................... 69


2009) ........................................................................................... 73

19 W HY QUESTIONNAIRE AND INTERVIEWS?............................................ 80

20 NON-PROBABILITY SAMPLING METHODS.............................................. 88

21 RESPONDENT ORGANIZATION TYPE AND SIZE .................................. 91

22 LEADERSHIP TYPES IN INDIAN IT ORGANIZATIONS .......................... 93

23 TRUST IN ORGANIZATIONS .............................................................. 94

24 W HAT HOLDS ORGANIZATION TOGETHER?....................................... 95

25 EXISTENCE OF A BASIC KM .......................................................... 97

26 EFFECTIVENESS IN 'CAPTURING' KNOWLEDGE .................................. 99


28 MOTIVATION TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE ............................................ 101

29 SURVEY RESPONSE: W HAT IS W EB 2.0? .................................... 103

30 W EB 2.0 – W HICH TOOLS DO YOU USE? .................................... 104

31 W HY DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION USE W EB 2.0? ......................... 105

32 HOW IS W EB 2.0 INTRODUCED? .................................................. 107

33 HOW HAS W EB 2.0 IMPACTED YOU? ........................................... 108

34 BARRIERS TO W EB 2.0................................................................ 109

35 IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY: W EB 2.0 AIDED KM ........................ 140


While beginning his seminal work, Nonaka (1991) had written,

that ‗in an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the

one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge‘.

Toffler (1980) identified knowledge as the most powerful

component in his power triad along with wealth and force as the

other components. The knowledge based economy, also referred

as a ‗third wave economy‘ is built on information and knowledge,

a resource that is infinite and doesn‘t get exhausted through

usage (Toffler and Toffler, 2006).

When knowledge tends to become the source of competitive

advantage, organizations need to manage it as a competitive

resource. Authors like Senge (1992), Garvin (1993), Nonaka

(1991) and others introduced the concepts of ‗knowledge

management‘ and the ‗learning organization‘. Garvin argued that

scholars at times explained these concepts as grandiose concepts

with no clarity on how organizations should actually manage an

intangible resource like knowledge. Knowledge management as a

field evolved under the scholarly research based on works of

authors like Davenport et al., (1998), O‘Dell and Grayson (1999),

Bhat (2001) and met various degrees of success. Various

knowledge management tools were introduced but, many

organizations did not achieve a great level of success (Levy,

2009). Some of the tools like Microsoft Sharepoint server,

Content Management systems (CMS) have been used in

organizations successfully. Some authors have proposed more

advanced concepts like expert systems and artificial intelligence

systems to model the complex artefact of knowledge (Liebowitz,

1998). However, these systems have proved to be moderately


O‘Rielly (2005) introduced a term called ‗Web 2.0‘ to describe

a new form of participative culture on the internet. Web 2.0 tools

were designed to leverage the collaborative nature of the users

(Tapscott and Williams, 2006). Inherently, these tools were

supposed to tap into the collective intelligence of the users or as

Surowiecki (2004) termed it, the‗wisdom of the crowds‘. Websites

that depend on user generated content like Wikipedia, the blogs

and photo sharing sites like Flickr or social networking websites

like Facebook and MySpace have proved that given an

opportunity, users would like to contribute content and share their

knowledge (Tapscott and Williams, 2006). Levy (2009) connected

the field of Knowledge Management and the philosophy of Web

2.0 to question if there was a potential to use the Web 2.0 tools

for knowledge management in organizations. She found a lot of

similarities as well as a few gaps. Research by Economist

Intelligence Unit (EIU, 2007) and McKinsey Consulting (Bughin, et

al., 2008 and Chui, et al., 2009) found that Web 2.0 tools were

being used for knowledge management purpose but, there were

still misconceptions and a lack of understanding in many

organizations. (Chui, et al., 2009)

India has largely been unexplored with respect to the

Knowledge Management efforts as well as the Web 2.0

initiatives. India has a substantial IT sector involved in IT

solutions and services. (Ghosh and Ghosh, 2008) This sector

would be facing similar issues in knowledge management as the

western counter-parts involved in knowledge sector. However,

many organizations that are embarking on the KM initiatives

already have Web 2.0 and this could impact the design of the

KM system.

The purpose of this research is to identify the usage and

issues in Knowledge Management and the perception of Web 2.0

and to explore if the concepts and tools of Web 2.0 can aid in

Knowledge Management. The Indian national culture is quite

different from the US culture. As an employee associated with

the IT and IT organizations in India, the author was curious to

understand how Knowledge Management operates and how the

new technology of Web 2.0 is being adopted. Being an insider

provided some insight but, gaining a much bigger picture was the
primary motive for the choice of the research topic. In some

organizations, the author had observed that internal blogs were

becoming very prominent, and Wiki was being integrated into

existing processes. These aspects resulted in an exploration to

see if Web 2.0 was replacing the KM practises of it was just

helping it.

The next section is a review of the existing work by various

scholars, followed by the objectives of this research, the

methodology and results from the research and a suggestion on

future research.


This chapter examines the concepts of knowledge

management, learning organization and the implementation issues

associated with knowledge management. It is followed by an

analysis of Web 2.0. Existing literature on these topics is critically

evaluated to identify potential frameworks and models that would

be useful for the research.

2.1 Knowledge and ‘knowledge creating company’

Adams (2008, p190-191) describing the current times says

that it an intersection between the industrial and knowledge

economies. Whereas the former was a tangible economy

involving raw materials and products, the latter is an economy

composed of intangibles like knowledge, ideas and services that

can‘t be touched or seen. Explaining further, she says that

knowledge is like oil – it can have stand-alone value (in the

form of books, training, consulting, etc) or secondary value where

knowledge is embedded in a product (savings achieved through

an improved business process).

In his research at Japanese companies, Nonaka (1991) had

opined that successful companies would be those that

‗consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely

throughout the organization and quickly embody it in new

technologies and products.‘ (p96) Stressing the importance of

knowledge, Peter Drucker had said that, ‗the collective knowledge

residing in the minds of its employees, customers, suppliers etc.,

is the most vital resource of an organization growth, even more

than the traditional factors of production (like land, labour and

capital)‘. (Martin, 2006, cited in Jha and Joshi, 2007, p134) The

Resource Based View (RBV) of organizations and the

competencies perspectives too highlight this changing trend in the

business strategy arena (Nelson and Winter, 1982 cited in Bhatt,

2001, p68). Many authors also contend that an organization‘s

ability to learn faster than competitors is a significant source of

competitive advantage (Stata, 1989; Senge, 1990; Ulrich et al.,

1993; McGill and Slocum, 1993; Slocum et al. 1994; Nevis et al.

1995, cited in Lopez, et al. 2004)

A new term ―knowledge-creating company‖ was coined by

Nonaka (1991) to explain such companies whose sole purpose

was continuous innovation. He segmented the knowledge as

being ‗tacit‘ and ‗explicit‘. Explicit knowledge is that which can

easily be communicated and shared. This is the knowledge that

is known to the Western management which looks for ‗hard‘ and

quantifiable data due to a formal and systematic way of working.


On the other hand, Japanese companies were seen to view

knowledge as more than just ‗processing of objective information.‘

(p97) Creating knowledge was seen as tapping the ‗tacit‘

knowledge which is composed of highly subjective insights,

intuitions and hunches of individual employees and exposing

these insights to the company for further testing and usage. Tacit

knowledge being highly subjective is difficult to formalize and

hard to communicate. (p98)

Regardless of knowledge being explicit or tacit, new

knowledge always begins with an individual. The job and the

biggest challenge for a ‗knowledge-creating company‘ is to ensure

that this personal knowledge, both tacit and explicit, is available

to the company. (Nonaka, 1991 p98; Suroweicki, 2004)

2.2 The Learning Organization

It has been noted that although organizations recognize the

importance of the explicit and tacit knowledge transfer, very few

organizations are able to handle the knowledge effectively.

(Singh, 2008; Foos, et al., 2006) Singh (2008) argues that

‗learning organizations‘ are better suited to handle the knowledge


Garvin (1993) had defined a learning organization as ‗an

organization skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring

knowledge, and at modifying its behaviour to reflect new

knowledge and insights. (p80)‘. Elaborating this concept, he

further clarified that such learning organizations are good at

following 5 things:

systematic problem solving

experimentation with new approaches

learning from their own experience

learning from the experience and best practices of others

transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the


Garvin‘s main contribution was the idea that companies can

actively manage the learning process so that it occurs by ‗design

rather than by chance‘ (1991) and specific policies and practices

can shape the up the learning process. Three factors form the

building block of such a learning organization (Garvin, et al.,

2008, p110; Jha & Joshi, 2007, p136):

a. supportive learning environment – an open environment

where differences are valued, mistakes are not ridiculed,

innovativeness is encouraged and time is set aside for

reflection to review existing processes

b. concrete learning processes and practices that covers the

entire gamut of generation, collection, interpretation and

dissemination of information.

c. leadership behaviour that reinforces learning – leaders who

actively question and listen to employees, prompting a

debate and dialogue and encouraging employees to learn.

They espouse, drive and role-model on the importance of

continuous learning.

Senge (1992) had offered a different viewpoint from the point

of an individual. He had defined a learning organization as ‗a

group of people continuously enhancing their capacity to create

what they want to create‘. A learning organization, is

characterized by ‗systems thinking‘ or ‗the fifth discipline‘. This

discipline is acquired through the mastery of ‗shared values‘,

‗personal mastery‘, ‗mental models‘ and ‗team learning‘. This

system talks about profound knowledge that is universal to all

businesses, which once understood would be applied by an

individual in her daily relationships and thus enable better

decisions for organizational transformation (Jha & Joshi, 2007,

p136). Murthy (2009) described a similar concept called

‗learnability‘ which is the ‗ability to extract generic inferences from

specific instances and to use them in new, unstructured

situations.‘ (p233)

2.2.1 Individual and organizational learning

New knowledge, it has been observed, always begins with an

individual (Nonaka, 1991). However, this knowledge is different

from the knowledge held by a group of individuals. (Jha & Joshi,

2007). According to Mark (2000), individual learning leads to

individual knowledge while organizational learning leads to

collective knowledge. Conflict between the two is bound to occur

and it acts as a stimulant for innovation and creativity. Bhatt

(2000a) had observed that ‗organizational knowledge is not a

simple sum of the individual knowledge‘ but, it is formed through

unique patterns of interactions between technologies, techniques,

and people. Organizational knowledge cannot be easily imitated

by other organizations, as the unique interactions are shaped by

the every organization's unique history and culture.

Organization learning can occur at multiple levels, as

explained below.

2.2.2 Types of organizational learning

Three different types of organizational learning have been

identified by various researchers– the single loop, double loop

and deutro-loop learning (Argyris and Schön, 1974; Flood and

Romm, 1996; Snell and ManKuen Chak, 1998 cited in Georges

& Witteloostuijn, 1999).

Single loop learning occurs when simple corrective actions

are taken to solve a problem. In this mode of learning,

organization‘s knowledge base is enhanced but results in no

change to existing processes and policies.

Figure 1 Single Loop Learning

Double loop learning occurs when an ‗error is detected

and corrected in ways that involve the modification of an

organization's underlying norms, policies and objectives‘. (Argyris

and Schön, 1978, p. 3) Double loop learning is a transformation

process. In this, the knowledge base and competency base

changes are accompanied by a change in problem definition,

policies, objectives and mental maps (Snell and Man-Kuen Chak,

1998). Argyris and Schön (1996) argue that double loop learning

is necessary if decisions are to be made in rapidly changing and

uncertain environment.

Figure 2 Double loop learning

However, most organizations find it difficult to learn in a

double loop manner. (Argyris, 1996). Hence, a deuteron-learning

(Bateson, 1973) or a triple loop learning (Flood and Romm,

1996; Snell and Man-Kuen Chak, 1998) was proposed that

focuses on structures and strategies. In this mode of learning,

local learning units are linked together in one overall learning

infrastructure as well as ensuring development of competencies to

use this infrastructure. This mode manifests itself in the

―collective mindfulness‖, where members discover how they and

their predecessors have facilitated or inhibited learning and

produce new structures and strategies for learning. (Georges &

Witteloostuijn, 1999)

Figure 3 Triple loop learning

A learning organization has to operate at double-loop or

deuteron-loop learning mode. Without the step of ‗thinking‘ or

‗reflecting‘, learning from past mistakes or learning from others‘

mistake cannot occur. This is exemplified by a quote Murthy

(2009), the founder of Infosys Technologies. Speaking about

building a successful organization, he writes:

As long as you constantly ask the questions, ‗Can we do

things faster today than yesterday, last month, last quarter

and last year?‘, ‗Can we bring better ideas to the table today

than yesterday, last month, last quarter and last year?‘, ‗Can

we execute those ideas with a better level of excellence and

quality today than yesterday, last month, last quarter and last

year?‘, I believe you will create a learning organization and

will succeed on a sustainable basis. I strongly believe that

these attributes are extremely important for the enduring

success of a corporation.

2.2.3 From Organization Learning to Knowledge


From above discussion it is evident that learning organizations

generate new knowledge. Knowledge Management is the

discipline that ‗takes the output from Learning Organization,

manages it and ensures that a proper environment to facilitate

knowledge transfer and sharing‘ (Jha & Joshi, p138). The sharing

creates both individual and organizational knowledge.

2.3 Knowledge Management

An exact definition of knowledge management is difficult as it

has been studied in various disciplines.(Lopez, et al., 2004, p93)

Davenport et al. (1998) define knowledge management as a

process of ‗collection, distribution and efficient use of knowledge

resource‘. It is also seen as a strategy to be developed in a

firm ‗to ensure that knowledge reaches the right people at the

right time, and that those people share and use the information

to improve the organization‘s functioning.‘ (O‘Dell and Grayson,

1998, cited in Lopez, et al., 2004) A third view is that knowledge

management is ‗a set of procedures, infrastructures, technical and

managerial tools, designed towards creating, sharing and

leveraging information and knowledge within and around

organizations‘ (Bounfour, 2003). Chait (1998) had described the

knowledge management process to include capturing, evaluating,

cleansing, storing, providing and using of the knowledge

The consensus amongst the different definitions though is that

knowledge management is a process that facilitates knowledge

exchange and sharing, and establishes continuous learning within

organizations. (Lopez, et al. 2004)

2.3.1 Structure, Culture & Technology in KM

Knowledge management in an organization has three aspects

to it – the structure of organization, the organizational culture and

technology (Bhat, 2001; Lopez, et al. 2004; Ellonen, et al., 2009).

Jha and Joshi (2008) and Payne (2008) described the foundation

of KM as people, process and technology. The three pillars and

the interaction between them is depicted in figure 4.

Figure 4 Components of KM Role of Culture in KM & Organizational Learning

Schein (1985) has defined Organizational culture as a model

of ‗basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of

an organization, that operate unconsciously, and that define an

organization's view of itself and its environment‘ (cited in Lopez,

et al., 2004). DeLong and Fahey (2000) have identified four ways

in which culture influence in creating, sharing and use of

knowledge. According to Delong and Fahey (2000), culture:

1. shapes assumption about what is knowledge and what is

worth sharing.

2. defines relationship between individual and organizational

knowledge; this determines who is expected to control,

share and hoard the knowledge

3. creates the context for social interaction which determines

how knowledge is used in particular situation

4. shapes the process by which new knowledge can be

created, legitimated and distributed.

From the works of various authors, following values have

been considered important in an organizational culture that

promotes organizational:

a long term vision and advance management of


communication and dialogue;

trust and respect for all individuals;



ambiguity tolerance;

risk assumption;

respect and diversity encouragement. (Nevis et al.,

1995; Elkjaer, 1998; Von Krogh, 1998; Ruggles, 1998;

Liedtka 1999; Senge, et al., 1999; De Long and Fahey,

2000; Gupta et al., 2000; Sveiby and Simons, 2002,

cited in Lopez, et al. 2004)

Lopez et al. (2004), described a culture with the above

features as a ‗collaborative culture‘ and found through empirical

research that such cultures promote organization learning.

Ellonen, et al. (2008) found that a key component in fostering

a knowledge sharing culture and innovation is trust (p164) Trust

of the organization‘s leadership was found to greater contribution

of ideas from employees. Trust amongst individuals was

associated with more open learning and sharing of knowledge.

Suroweicki (2004) bluntly put it saying, ‗in the absence of trust

the purist of myopic self interest is the only strategy that makes


Organizational culture as a subject is very vast topic. For

the purpose of this research, the role of organizational culture is

closely tied to just two aspects – a culture of sharing

(collaborative culture) and the level of trust. The other aspects of

culture and an exhaustive study of different types of culture

within the Indian organizations is not in scope of this piece of


31 Knowledge Management Process

In his definition, Bhatt (2000b) refers to knowledge

management as a process of ‗creation, validation, presentation,

distribution and application‘. (p71) According to him, knowledge

management can be broken down into a 5 step process as

shown in figure below. These are the steps in knowledge

management, from an organization‘s perspective.

Figure 5 Knowledge Management Activities

Knowledge Creation: This refers to the ability of an

organization to create novel and useful ideas (Marakas,

1999, p. 440) (p71) This is an emergent process where

‗motivation, inspiration, experimentation and pure chance‘

play a role (Lynn, et al. 1995) This step is closely related

to ‗experimentation‘ by a learning organization. (Garvin,


Knowledge Validation: This is the organization‘s ability to

reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge for the

existing organizational environment. Identifying and

reconfiguring obsolete knowledge is extremely important

since core-competencies, even though not easily imitated

can get obsolete (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995)

Knowledge Formatting: This refers to the different ways

knowledge can be presented, so that it is suitable to the

different ‗work-styles‘ of the people.

Knowledge Distribution: Unless knowledge is distributed

and shared, it cannot be exploited by the organizational

members. Knowledge transferred through a supervised and

predetermined channel will minimize interaction and

questioning of the validity of knowledge. Horizontal structure

can speed up knowledge transfer and interaction.

Knowledge Application: Knowledge needs to be applied

in its products, processes and services to create value.

Nonaka (1991) described a similar process from the view

of an individual. He termed it as the ‗knowledge creation cycle‘

(Figure 6). This process examined an individual‘s knowledge

transfer process based on the tacit and explicit knowledge


Socialization: Essentially a transfer of tacit knowledge from one

individual to another. This knowledge is not shared to the

organization as a whole and cannot be leveraged easily.

However, this can aid in the knowledge creation and validation

steps of KM as defined by Bhat (2001).

Figure 6 The Knowledge Spiral (Abdullah, et al., 2006)

Articulation: It is a process of converting tacit to explicit

knowledge. By doing so, knowledge is available to the

organization as a whole. This process closely resembles the

distribution process for an organization (Bhat, 2001).

Synthesis / Combination: In this mode, explicit knowledge is

combined with other explicit knowledge to gain better

understanding through different formatting and presentation

mechanism of the already existing knowledge.

Internalization: In this process, individuals digest the existing

explicit knowledge and reframe their tacit knowledge for their


Articulation and internalization requires the active

involvement and commitment of an individual (Nonaka, 1991, p99)

Socialization requires a platform where individuals can meet and

discuss and synthesis requires tools that can aid in quickly re-

formatting the existing knowledge. Technology in Knowledge Management

Bhat (2001) had defined the technological requirement saying

it is any IT that ‗enables the searching, storing, manipulating, and

sharing of a huge amount of information per unit of time, by

minimizing the limitations of time and space‘.

Various authors have written about the technology necessary

for Knowledge Management. It varies from being very generic like

emails to shared storage, to extremely specific like data

warehousing. (Junnarkar & Brown 1997; Offsey 1997; Liebowitz

1998; Borghoff & Pareschi 1998; Dieng et al. 1999; Alavi &

Leidner 1999; Hendriks & Vriens 1999; Earl 2001; Alavi &

Leidner 2001; cited in Edwards, et al., 2005) A few authors like

Liebowitz propose the usage of expert systems. However,

knowledge based systems and expert systems have largely fallen

out of favor due to lack of understanding and complexity.

(Adbullah, et al., 2006)

Other researchers have classified the technology as

communication technologies and storage technologies (Alavi and

Tiwana 2002; Malhotra and Majchrzak 2005, cited in Leonardi

and Bailey, 2008), based on the usage. Phones, chat rooms,

email and other communication technologies serve as conduits for

serving messages containing knowledge and information. Storage

technologies include knowledge management systems and

versioning control systems and they permit storage, retrieval and

sharing of explicitly codified knowledge and information.

Information is retrieved using search tools that work on the

technology of keyword indexing (McKnight, 2005 cited in Dursun

and Suleiman, 2009 p141). Table 1 below lists some of the

tools that have been identified by researchers for Knowledge


According to the research by Edwards et al.(2005), there is

no fixed technology that can be used as a Knowledge

management tool in an organization. Rather, the final solution

depends on how each of the following tensions is resolved


1. Between the quantity and quality of information/knowledge.

2. Between centralized and decentralized organization.

3. Between head office and organizational knowledge.

4. Between ‗‗push‘‘ and ‗‗pull‘‘ methodology.

TABLE 1 Knowledge Management Tools

. AI Based Conventional
Code based reasoning Bulletin boards
Computer-supported co-operative
Data mining work
Expert systems Databases
Genetic algorithms Data warehousing
Intelligent agents Decision support systems
Knowledge based systems Discussion forums
Multi agent systems Document Management
Neural Networks Electronic Publishing
"Push" technology E-Mail
Executive information systems
Information retrieval
Natural language processing
People finder/ "Yellow pages"
Search engines
Workflow management

2.4 Challenges with Knowledge Management

Although Knowledge Management has been acknowledged as

being important for sustained competitive advantage, it has been

found hard to implement successfully. There are various reasons

for this failure.

On the structural front, management has been found to

pay a lot of attention towards technological aspects rather than

the social and cultural aspects of KM (Cross & Barid, 1999 cited

in Lopez et al., 2004) Knowledge has been subjected to the

traditional cost/benefit analysis. In many organizations, especially

small and medium enterprises, management is not ready to

invest in higher value-longer term project associated with

knowledge management (Nunes, et al., 2006 & Wickert &

Herschel, 2001).

Bhat (2001) stresses the fact that IT can only act as an

enabler and it is only through people and their interactions that

information is turned into knowledge and learning occurs (p73)

De Long and Fahey (2000) stress, that trust is the most

important aspect needed for effective knowledge management.

The level of trust in an organization impacts the flow of

knowledge ‗between individuals and from individuals into the firm's

databases, best practices archives and other records‘. Lack of

trust leads to a resistance of sharing – and this lack of sharing

is found as the hardest cultural barrier in effective sharing of

knowledge (Ruggles, 1998).

Centralization is identified as another barrier for effective

knowledge management. Levy (2009) says that in traditional

knowledge management paradigm, a central team encourages

people to add content and in some cases users are only allowed

to use existing knowledge. Sharing is controlled and content is

moderated through the central group. Not all users are thus able

to contribute to the knowledge management activity. This leads to

a ‗top-down‘ or a centralized management of the knowledge

management activity. A culture lacking trust, coupled with a

centralized structure prevents effective sharing.

Technologically, knowledge management has faced a lot of

hurdles. Primary amongst them is the cost and complexity.

(Spanbauer, 2006) A second issue has been the way the KM

systems are designed. Despite the increasing role of end-users,

the specifications for most KM systems are provided in a top-

down manner through managers who are far removed from the

day-to-day interactions. This mode of development has been

proven faulty in the Information Systems development (Haad et

al., 2004,cited in Patrick and Dotsika, 2007). Researchers have

also found that information stored is often decontextualized. Due

to the removal of the context, new users who try to use the

knowledge are hampered. (Leonardi and Bailey, 2008)

The final issue is the difficulty to encode tacit knowledge.

Since this knowledge is inherently hard to formalize,

communicating such knowledge is very difficult. According to

Clark and Rollo (2001), 42% of corporate knowledge is held in

employees‘ minds (cited in Singh 2008). Tebbutt (2007) advising

on a better knowledge management system writes

―forcing people to encode their knowledge formally is not

easy – in fact, it can‘t be done. But when people are

socializing, even in a work context, they are much happier

to share their thoughts and their experiences… there‘s this

hint of loosening the reins of corporate or IT control and

allowing systems to be focused more to human needs.

After all, it‘s in the humans that the knowledge resides

and between them where it adds value to the organization‘‘

(cited in Levy, 2009, p132).

The above issues are summarized in table below:

TABLE 2 Issues with Knowledge Management

Structure Excessive focus on technology but, less focus on social

aspects of knowledge management
Small companies don‘t want look at long-term and don‘t
want to invest in additional cost
Transaction based cost structures that fails to identify ROI
on knowledge management initiatives
Culture Lack of trust to share knowledge
Fear of loss of management controls
Resistance to share
Lack of a collaborative environment
Technology Sophisticated and costly products
Specifications and requirements set in a top-down manner
Knowledge is often decontextualized – individuals using
the knowledge can‘t apply correctly
Inability in encoding tacit knowledge

In the past few years, managers and users have grown

skeptical on the knowledge management initiatives and are on

the lookout for KM system that‘s "actually being used" (Spenbaur,


2.5 Collaboration, participation and Web 2.0

In the last few years, the economy has been observed to

move towards a more participative medium. Instead of clear

demarcation consumers and producers, a new set of users called

prosumers or co-creators have been introduced. Such users

actively participate in the creation, use and improvement of a

product. (Toffler, 1980; Prahalad and Ramasamy 2004). A new

term called ‗Web 2.0‘ was introduced to explain the new

paradigm in technology. Several authors have publicized the

concepts of collaboration and ‗wisdom of crowds‘ when trying to

explain the success of phenomena like Open Source movement.

(Sureoweicki, 2004; Tapscott and Williams, 2006; Spenbaur 2006)

Following is an analysis of the modern changes in the view of

various scholars and how it could impact knowledge


2.5.1 What is Web 2.0?

Although the term Web 2.0 is very prevalent, it does not

have a fixed definition. O‘Rielly has explains it as, ‗the business

revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the

internet as platform‘ (Musser and O‘Reilly, 2006). Boutin (2006)

observed that Web 2.0 is a term that currently encompasses ‗a

mishmash of tools and sites that foster collaboration and

participation‘. Weinberger (2007) defines it as an establishment of

‗open architecture, lowering the barriers to publishing, the ease

with which people can connect ideas, the increase in available

bandwidth and computing power‘. Levy (2009) observed that while

Weinberger spoke of Web 2.0 as an evolution, O‘Reilly spoke of

it as a revolution in computing.

2.5.2 Principles and Characteristics of Web 2.0

Rather than defining Web 2.0, O‘Rielly has described the

principles of Web 2.0 that would explain the concept. They are

summarized in the figure 4. The main principles of Web 2.0 are:

a. Web as a platform: Web is not an application by itself but,

it should be treated as a platform.

b. Services development: Innovation is in assembly of

services. Each service by itself may not be very innovative

but a combination of services produces interesting

innovations. For example, Google introduced the Map

services. Combining Google Maps with Wikipedia produced

the Placeopedia (Boutin, 2006).

c. Active participation of users: Levy (2009) explains that until

recently, in the Web and in KM paradigm, content

managers and experts were involved in creating, organizing

and collecting content while users mainly used it. In Web

2.0 paradigm, users contribute and add value to the

content. Patrick and Dotsika (2007) term this as the ‗pull‘

model where users active seek information rather then the

prevalent ‗push‘ model which is broadcasting of information.

Figure 4 Web 2.0 Characteristics (Source: O'Rielly, 2007)

Three different types of user activities lead to value add

depending on the level of collaboration. Collaboration itself has

been defined as ―individuals and companies employing widely

distributed computing and communication technologies to achieve

shared outcomes through loose voluntary associations‖ (Tapscott

and Williams, 2007; p17) Sobolak (2007) cited in Levy 2009)

identified 3 types of users:

a. Passive users – Such users just use a service. However,

their activities and history is used to provide value. For

example, Amazon purchase suggestions.

b. Minimally active users – Such users generate content,

probably in response to other content or, they may be

producing the content primarily by themselves. There is not

much collaboration and back-and-forth data. Example: tags

and blogs

c. Active (collaboration) – Such users work together over

the net adding collaborative value. Example: Wikipedia,

Open Source Software.

The collaboration propounded by Web 2.0 enthusiasts is to

tap the ‗collective intelligence‘ (Levy, 2009). Tapscott and Williams

(2007) define ‗collective intelligence‘ as ‗the aggregate knowledge

that emerges from the decentralized choices and judgments of

groups of independent participants‘ (p41). An outcome of the

collaboration is ‗emergence‘ which is the ‗the creation of

attributes, structures and capabilities that are not inherent to any

single node in the network‘ (p44). Elucidating the definition,

Tapscott and Williams point out that the emergence coupled with

web based tools is producing relative complex artifacts like open

source software. This has led to a new realization that power of

such self-organization can be tapped, especially in the areas of

innovation and knowledge management. (p45)

Figure 5 New realization on emergence

2.5.3 Organizational Structure & Culture and Web 2.0

Payne (2008) believes that an organization can only influence

the knowledge creation and sharing by creating an environment

that will encourage collaboration. This can be done though an

environment of trust, self-management, behavioral protocols,

shared intent and equitable sharing of returns (p6). She identified

that even traditional organizations can benefit from new social

software. She found that the extent of bureaucracy in an

organization does not itself lead to positive or negative effect on

collaboration. Instead of a ‗coercive bureaucracy‘ where managers

try to command and control reluctant employees was found to

hamper the collaboration. On the other hand, an ‗enabling

bureaucracy‘ was found to help in better sharing and innovation.

According to other authors, decentralization has been is as an

important aspect for an effective collaboration. Sureoweicki (2004)

explains that ‗if you set a crowd of self-interested people to work

in a decentralized way on the same problem, instead of trying to

direct their efforts from the top down, their collective solution is

likely to be better than any other solution you could come up

with‘. (87) Decentralization promotes individuals to specialize and

yet collaborate. It empowers an individual closest to the problem

to find a solution. But, decentralization‘s weakness is information

learnt may never be disseminated. For this purpose, an

aggregation of individual knowledge into a collective whole is

necessary. Paradoxically, aggregation, a form of centralization is

necessary for the decentralization to succeed. (p89-93).

Tapscott and Williams (2006) suggest that a culture

meritocracy helps in collaboration. Such meritocracy works on the

self-organizing power of the community to provide a hierarchy of

more experienced members. The experienced member provides

leadership as well as works on aggregating the contributions. For

example, Linus Trovalds provides the leadership to the kernel

development of the Linux operating system. Such an

arrangement, according to the authors works by assigning the

right person to the right task:

―When people voluntarily self-select for creative, knowledge

intensive tasks they are more likely than managers to choose

tasks for which they are uniquely qualified. Who, after all, is

more likely to know the full range of tasks you are best

qualified to perform you or your manager? (Pg- 68)‖

Chui, et al. (2009) found that the new collaboration tools have

a ‗strong bottom-up element and engage a broad base of

workers‘. It also demands ‗a mind-set different from that of earlier

IT programs, which were instituted primarily by edicts from senior

managers. (p1)‘ However, the transformation to a bottom-up

culture needs help the senior executives who can act as role

models. (p5)

The challenges to culture required for a successful Web 2.0

program has been found to be similar to the challenges faced in

Knowledge management. They are (a) need for trust, (b)

generating interest and (c) a sense of partnership where

contributions are justly rewarded. (Levy, 2009, p132). However,

since Web 2.0 acts as a platform, to encourage users to

participate, organizations will need to appeal the participants‘

egos and needs, rather than just monetary benefits. This can be

achieved by appealing to the participant‘s desire for recognition

by ‗bolstering the reputation of participants in relevant

communities, rewarding enthusiasm, or acknowledging the quality

and usefulness of contributions‘ (Chui et al., 2009; p6).

In summary, although decentralization and a collaborative

culture is stressed in the Web 2.0 literature, a form of self-

organized hierarchy based on meritocracy has been found to

succeed. To kick start such a self-sustaining effort, management

can select early leaders who generally are ‗enthusiastic early

technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will

thus share knowledge and exchange ideas‘ (Chui et al., 2009)

2.5.4 Technology and Web 2.0

Web 2.0 in essence is harnessing the ‗network effect‘. (EIU,

2007) Any tool that can harness this effect is defined to fall

under the Web 2.0 paradigm. Tools that fall under the Web 2.0

paradigm are Blogs, Wikis, RSS, Podcasts, Web Services, Social

Networking, Peer-to-peer and Mashups (Bughin, et al., 2008;

Levy, 2009).

Blog or weblog is defined an online journal that can be

updated regularly with entries typically displayed in chronological

order. (Wyld, 2008; p452) Blog is one of the most widely used

technologies due to the ease of creation and updation of content

on online websites. (Bughin, et al., 2008) Weil (2004) calls blogs

as an ―easy-to-use content management tool‖. Blog is a

mechanism where the traditional role of a content creator and

content consumer is blurred (Blood, 2004).

Wiki has been defined as a ‗structured website, i.e. collection

of pages sharing the same structure using templates‘. Users

participate in the creating, and editing of content as well as

influencing the structure of the templates. Such templates guide

the way users write the content and are much simpler to use

than the traditional Content Management Systems (Levy, 2009).

According to Wyld (2008), using the wiki model, if should be

possible to produce content, goods and services through joining

together of individuals located outside of traditional hierarchies by

forming ‗permanent, temporary or one-time collaboration‘. (p475)

Tagging or ‗collaborative tagging‘ is ‗a practice whereby users

assign uncontrolled keywords to information resources‘. (Levy,

2009) Usage of such tags allows users to classify the content

based on individual use. Sharing of the tags aids in indexing and

search by other users as well, apart from subsequent tagging by

popularity of tags. Popularity of tags is determined by the

frequency of use, generally depicted as a tag cloud. (Figure 6).

According to the website ―What is RSS?‖, ‗Rich Site

Summary‘ or ‗Really Simple Syndication‘ (RSS) is defined as ‗a

format for delivering regularly changing web content‘ ( 2009a).

Generally used by news site and weblogs, it provides an easy

way to ‗stay informed‘ and ‗save time‘ by automatically retrieving

the content without users having to visit each of the sites. RSS

is built on frameworks of ‗eXtensible Markup Language‘ (XML).

(Abdullah, et al., 2006)

Figure 6 Typical tag cloud

Social networking refers to the applications ‗that are

targeted to enabling the creation and enlargement‘ of a user‘s

social network. Users of such application first join in and then

invite their friends or colleagues to join. Each new member in

turn continues the cycle. (Levy, 2009).

Collective estimation refers to the ability to aggregate the

opinions which could help in idea generation or identifying trends

on general interest (Chiu, et al., 2009) Websites like Digg and

Techcrunch are examples of such Web 2.0 websites.

Social graphing refers to the leveraging of connection

between people which could be used to offer new application or

products. (Chiu, et al., 2009) For example, LinkedIn identifies

people that one may know based on the existing links of two

different people. The tools and their use is summarized in the

figure 7 below.

Figure 7 Web 2.0 Tools (Source: Chui, et al., 2009)

2.5.5 Current Usage of Web 2.0

According to an Economist survey, most of the

multinationals have begun to see Web 2.0 technologies as

corporate tools. 31% of the respondents felt that using web

as a platform for sharing and collaboration would affect all

parts of their business. (EIU, 2007, p1)

Companies have now moved from the initial

experimentation phase to an adoption of the tools for business

purpose. Satisfied companies have even started to leverage

the Web 2.0 tools in change management and organizational

structures. Web 2.0 tools were found to be used more for

internal purposes than for the external, supplier/customer

facing applications. (Bughin, et al., 2008) Contradicting this

was a survey by Economist (EIU, 2007) where 68% felt that

Web 2.0 would impact the way they interacted with the

customers as against 48% who felt it would impact they way

they interacted with internal employees.

Figure 8 Web 2.0 Usage (Source: Bughin, et al., 2008)

Two primary uses of the Web 2.0 technologies were in

management of knowledge and for fostering a collaborative

environment. (Figure 9). Blogs, RSS, Wikis and Podcasts were

the most commonly used tools. (Figure 10)

Figure 9 Internal use for Web 2.0 (Source: Bughin, et al., 2008)

Showing a similar pattern, a survey by Association of

Information and Image Management (AAIM, 2008), found that the

primary use of Web 2.0 was ‗to increase collaboration‘ followed

by ‗knowledge management‘.

To stress the importance of such tools, a new term called

Enterprise 2.0 has been defined. It is the use of ‗emergent social

software platforms within companies, or between companies and

their partners or customers‘ (AIIM, 2008).

Figure 10 Usage pattern of Web 2.0 technologies (Source: Bughin, et al.,

2008) Classification of usage of Web 2.0 as a platform

To help organizations in understanding and using Web 2.0

technologies, Levy (2009) developed a grid model based on the

technology adoption and user orientation. Technology adoption

could be adoption of:

1. Web 2.0 software infrastructure – using web services, etc.

2. Web 2.0 applications – Wikis, blogs, tagging, etc.

Using the Web 2.0 applications with an internal focus (the

top-left quadrant of grid) was found as a right fit for knowledge

management initiatives.

Figure 11 Adoption of Web 2.0 (Source: Levy, 2009)

Chui, et al., (2009) on the other hand classified the Web

2.0 technology based on the commonality of purpose. They are:

(a) Broad collaboration such as Wikis, Blogs; (b) Metadata

creation through tagging; (c) Social graphing via social networking

tools; (d) Collective estimation in the form of polls and online

surveys. While the first model is more of a descriptive

framework, the second model is both descriptive as well as

prescriptive. Using the second model, organizations new to Web

2.0 can start the initiative via the use of appropriate tools. The

main technological attraction of Web 2.0 applications, according to

this survey is that they are ‗a relatively lightweight overlay to the

existing infrastructure and do not necessarily require complex

technology integration.‘ (p2)

Figure 12 Web 2.0 deployment and usage (Source: Chui, et al., 2009)

2.5.6 Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management

According to Levy (2009), the roots of many Web 2.0 tools

were derived from Knowledge Management tools. The two have

similar principles (summarized in figure 13). Elucidating on the

specific usage of Web 2.0 tools for KM, various authors have

highlighted the KM aspects of the Web 2.0 usage. For example:

1. Adams (2008) citing Burns (2005) and Li (2004) says that

blogs are being used for internal communication and

collaboration, along with wikis as engaging method of KM.

Anderson (2004) speaks of the ‗long tail‘ trend in blogs

where it enables communication with micro-audiences. The

movement of communication from emails to blogs also

makes it easily searchable medium (Adams, 2009; p467).

2. Intel has successfully created an internal learning initiative

called Intelpedia to ‗to share knowledge, collaborate with

employees and post need-to-know company information in

a safe, behind-the-firewall space‘ Meoster (2008) EIU

(2007, p6) has a story on the use of Wiki for KM in


Figure 13 Web 2.0 and KM (Source: Levy, 2008)

Despite the many similarities, there are a lot of gaps between

the concepts of Knowledge Management and Web 2.0. They are

summarized in figure 14 below. These gaps are also closely tied

with the issues faced in embracing the Web 2.0 solutions,

described in the next section.

Figure 14 Gaps between Web 2.0 and KM (Source: Levy, 2008)

2.5.7 Challenges with Web 2.0

Despite the potential of Web 2.0, it faces a lot of challenges.

Primary amongst them is awareness. According to EIU (2007,

p8), ‗many in the corporate world have never heard of Web 2.0‘

and amongst those who have heard, plenty of them ‗do not

know what it means‘. In a survey by AIIM (2008), 74% of the

respondents claimed only a vague familiarity with web 2.0, while

41% did not have a clear understanding. The second issue was

companies getting ‗caught up in trappings of Web 2.0 tools and

lose sight of what the tools are meant to build‘. In their survey,

Bughin, et al. (2008) found that the most commonly cited reason

for failure of web 2.0 were, ‗inability of management to grasp the

potential financial returns from Web 2.0, unresponsive corporate

cultures, and less-than-enthusiastic leaders‘. (p4).

Organizational Issues

Levy (2009) identified that the issues with Web 2.0 is quite

similar to Knowledge management, namely, a need for trust;

interest of participants and partnership.(p132) Complete openness

needed by Web 2.0 can cause issues, as examined by Adams

(2008). He identified 4 issues with publicly accessible blogs: (1)

exposure of trade secrets; (2) trade libel; (3) securities law

violations; and (4) unauthorized use/posting of protected

intellectual property. (p471) McNamara (2005) opines that there

is a possibility of employees ‗blogging off the cliff‘. Terming

collaborative platforms as ‗subversive‘, Payne (2008) says that

these technologies offer ability to collaborate but, this

collaboration can occur outside organizational structure and

processes thereby defeating the purpose. (p10)

Process and Technical Issues

McAfee (2006) cited in Grossman (2008) lists the following

technical challenges associated with the complete openness of

platforms of Web 2.0:

securing sensitive information behind the firewall,

controlling access to levels of information and databases,

protecting the integrity of information from tampering by

disgruntled employees

Patrick and Dotsika (2007) identified issues in knowledge

modeling, standardization, security, maintenance and scalability

with respect to Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 relies on tagging and folksonomies (open-ended,

collaboratively generated taxonomies) for classification which are

inherently ambiguous. Taxonomies, the formal means of

classification, on other hand are excessively restrictive in

modeling complex information and knowledge. Adoption of an

emergent, heuristic and locally agreed semantics for classification

is being could form a more useful. (Aberer et al., 2004)

To ensure retrieval across platforms and interoperability,

standardization is essential. Dodds (2006), says that using

Resource Description Framework (RDF), as the underlying model

for RSS could help in the standardization effort.

Security issues like cross-site scripting, insecure randomness,

etc. crops up due to emergent technologies, especially in the

quest to design the AJAX based applications (Twynham, 2006).

With respect to maintenance and scalability, although Web 2.0

applications are built mainly using Open Source software, lack of

documentation and support leads to a need for in-house

expertise (Patrick and Dotsika, 2007).

Figure 15 Gartner Hype Cycle, (Source: Gartner, 2009)

Despite all the issues, the general opinion is that Web 2.0 as

a technology is at a level of maturity that it can be used. (EIU,

2009; Bughin, et al., 2009; Chui, et al., 2009) Young workers

who come from a world exposed to such tools would expect the

same within the workspace as well (Levy, 2009) and if not

present, they can switch to the publicly accessible networks.

(Payne, 2008) According to Tapscott and Williams (2006, cited in

Adams, 2008), adoption of mass collaboration is not a luxury but

a strategic imperative. This has been validated by the Gartner

Hype Cycle for the technology trends of year 2009 which

predicts that Web 2.0 will be transformational, with an adoption

time-window of 0 to 2 years. (MacManus, 2009 citing Gartner,


Thus a prudent option would be to embrace the Web 2.0

methodologies. Best practices for such an adoption are examined

in the next section.

2.5.8 Web 2.0: Suggestions & Best Practices for usage

To get the best out of Web 2.0, changes have to be made

to address the aspects of structure, culture and technology.

Adams identified four steps as the Enterprise 2.0 best practices


The first step is to ‗create a receptive culture to prepare the

way for new practices‘. Essentially, this involves creating a more

bottom-up culture and increasing the level of trust between

employees. Ellonen, et al. (2008) define organizational trust as

composed of two parts. One aspect is the horizontal trust

involving ‗positive expectations individuals have about the

competence, reliability and benevolence of organizational

members‘. The other aspect is the lateral trust, or the

‗institutional trust‘ which is the trust in the organizational

processes and policies. Trust needs to exist on both dimensions.

Web 2.0 works best in a bottom-up culture and with senior

executives acting as the role models and leading through informal

channels. (Chui, et al., 2009)

The next step is to ‗create a common platform to allow for a

collaboration infrastructure‘. From a technology perspective, it is

better to start the initiative with Open source tools which are

themselves a form of collaborative outsourcing (Tapscott and

Williams, 2005). The products themselves are not central or core

to business models and peer produced software generally fits

such needs. However, applications need to scale to all users and

Chui, et al. (2009) suggest management must actively encourage

products that start to show higher usage and promise. Dursan

and Suliman (2009) advise on a holistic platform that can be

accessed, searched and indexed so that the content becomes

easily accessible to all the users. In summary, it translates to

using open source tools and scaling those that work well, and

investing in a good search technology so that users can find the

information they are looking for.

The third suggestion is to use an ‗informal rollout approach as

opposed to a more formal procedural one‘. Snowden (2007) says

that the new paradigm is ‗not about selecting a tool based on

pre-determined criteria, [but] it is about allowing multiple tools to

co-evolve with each other, people and environments so that new

patterns of stable interaction form, and destabilize as needed to

reform in new and contextually appropriate ways‘‘ (cited in Levy,

2009; p128) This is termed as the perpetual beta (Levy, 2009).

Generally, the Web 2.0 initiative has succeeded whenever the

business unit has been given freedom to choose the tools. (Chui,

et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009; Levy, 2008)

Participants can be encouraged by recognizing contributions,

bolstering reputation and acknowledging the usefulness of

contribution. These methods are more in-tune with the ethos of

web users. Allowing self-organization of communities through

meritocratic principles of organization provides for a better

participation (Chui, et al., 2009; Tapscott and Williams, 2005, p


The final suggestion from Adams (2008) is to get ‗managerial

buy-in‘. The role of a leader in managing information and

knowledge is via two broad routes of technology and via the

social networks. Leaders can act as catalysts for the change

from a top-down to bottom up culture by acting as role-models.

They can prove as the champions of new initiatives by constantly

contributing and engaging with participants by networking, listening

and acting on the comments received from other employees.

They can trigger new modes of thought and influence

communities by actively questioning and challenging the members

and finally encourage participation by recognizing the contribution

and celebrating the success of communities. (Kouzes and Posner,

2002; Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez,

et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009).

Figure 16 Web 2.0 Best Practices

Bughin, et al., (2009) and Chui, et al. (2009) have pointed

out that participation can be increased if Web 2.0 initiatives are

aligned with the existing processes. Due to its novelty, Web 2.0

initiatives could be considered as separate from the mainstream

work. If it is incorporated into the daily workflow, such initiatives

have a higher chance of success.

The best practices are summarized in figure 16.

2.6 India – National Culture

The focus of the research that this paper addresses is the IT

organizations based out of India. An exploration of the national

culture and the Knowledge Management and Web 2.0 trends

observed by various authors is examined in the following two


Hofstede (1980 & 1991) in his seminal work on exploration of

the national cultures had defined 4 parameters and ranked

various countries on a comparative scale on these four

parameters. The parameters and the relative position of India

compared to other national cultures is shown in Figure 17.

Uncertainty avoidance: India is rated to have moderate

uncertainty avoidance. However, Budhwar (2001) reported a

study by Kanungo and Mendonca (1994) that found Indians as

having ‗an unwillingness to accept organizational change or take

risk, reluctance to make important decisions in work-related

matters or lack of initiative in problem solving, a disinclination to

accept responsibility for job-related tasks and an indifference to

job feedback‘. (p80)

Power Distance: India has a high power distance derived from

the hierarchical nature of Hinduism, one of the primary religions

of India. Indian organizational structures are hierarchal with age

and seniority playing an important role in decisions about

promotions and pay. (Budhwar, 2001; p80-81)

Figure 17 Hofstede's classification of Indian National Culture (Source:

Budhwar, 2001)

Masculinity: India is rated as ‗low‘ in masculinity that is reflected

in a ‗paternalistic management style and preference of

personalized relationships rather than a more divorced

performance orientation‘ (Kanuango and Jaeger, 1990)

Individualism: Being rated low on ‗individualism‘, family and

group attainments are supposed to take precedence over work

outcomes for Indians. The purpose of work is thus a ‗means to

fulfill one‘s family and social obligations‘ and not to express or

fulfill one‘s self. (Budhwar, 2001, p83).

The research reported by Budhwar (2001) was primarily on

manufacturing sector and in the 90s when India was not

liberalized. In a study by Heuer (2006), India and US had similar

uncertainty avoidance scores (40 and 46) as well as in the

masculinity scores (56 and 62) respectively. However, power

distance remained significantly high (Kakar, et al., 2002). Heuer

also found that although both public and private sector

organizations were affected by globalization and liberalization, the

private sector synthesized the adjustments differently and the

Indian culture was termed to be in ‗transition‘. Tan and Khoo

(2002) identified that there was a mass adoption of western

technology, knowledge and management systems especially in

private sector.

In direct contradiction to Budhwar (2001), Deshpande, et al.,

(1999) too found that most successful Indian firms had an

‗entrepreneurial culture‘ (Quinn 1988; Quinn and Rohrbaugh 1983)

and this was the most prevalent form of organizational culture in

India. Such a culture encourages risk taking and innovation.

Based on research on Indian companies, they could also find

evidence to an earlier hypothesis by Capon et al. (1991) that

high performance organizations have an organizational climate

that encourages ‗innovativeness, communication, participation,

decentralization, friendliness, and trust ‗ (p112).

On the leadership front, in the GLOBE research project,

Liddell (2005) reported that ‗transformational-charismatic‘ and

‗team-oriented‘ leaders were found to be effective in India. Such

leaders are ‗visionary, inspirational, decisive, performance-oriented,

and willing to make personal sacrifices‘. Leaders who are

diplomatic, collaborative and team builders are also highly valued.


The adoption of a professional and meritocratic corporate

culture rather than a caste-based or hierarchical culture was seen

in the IT organizations. Heuer (2006) observed that ‗corporate

culture and business practices of India's IT firms are vastly

superior to the traditional business houses and is at the forefront

of improved corporate governance‘. Indian managers were also

found to be capable of handling sophisticated strategy planning

but bad at execution.

2.7 India – Knowledge Management & Web 2.0

There is a lack of published research on innovation and

knowledge management in emerging economies. (Knowledge and

Process Management, 2008; p 184). However, with its large

English speaking professionals, and large Diaspora that has

already achieved thought leadership in knowledge intensive fields,

Ghosh and Ghosh (2008) predict that India will have a

considerably big knowledge industry.

Based on a limited research Sanghani (2008) found that there

is a considerable association between KM and organization size,

measured in turnover as well as number of employees. (p14-15)

Big organizations were found to be more organized and

structured and the sheer size led to an investment in KM system

to manage the organizational knowledge. (p19) Chatzkel (2004)

published a case study of KM implementation at Wipro

technologies, a large Indian IT organization. One of the prime

drivers for a systematic KM implementation has been mentioned

as ‗huge growth‘. Wipro has implemented a top-down knowledge

management strategy and no special investment in technology,

except for Microsoft Sharepoint server. Emphasis has been

placed on ‗connecting people‘ via discussion forums and yellow

pages, with the understanding that tacit knowledge cannot be

easily encoded but, socializing can help in transfer of such

knowledge or skill.

On the other hand, smaller organizations were lagging behind

due to the scale of investment and lack of clarity in terms of

return on investment (Sanghani, 2008; p19). A potential area of

research that is unanswered is this: if the cost of investment

towards KM system were to reduce drastically by usage of Web

2.0, would such organization show more interest in investing

towards KM efforts.

Bughin, et al., (2009) examined the usage pattern of Web 2.0

technologies. India has a higher adoption rate for blogs, wikis

while North America had a slightly higher usage of Social

Networking tools compared to India (Figure 18). Kushan (2007)

has explored the trend of CEO blogging in India. Apart from

these articles, there is no authoritative data in terms of Web 2.0

and its usage in Indian organizations. There is a lack of

information on the usage and deployment of blogs and wikis in

India based organizations.

Figure 18 Web 2.0 in India and North America (Source: Bughin, et al.,


Summarizing the entire section, various authors have provided

a viewpoint on how an organization can manage knowledge, both

for its individuals as well as an organization itself. Knowledge

management as a discipline has been examined under various

disciplines and its implementation has seen varied levels of

satisfaction. The concept of Web 2.0 is quite promising due to

its emphasis on user-generated content through sharing and

collaboration. It has a potential to address the main ask of a KM

system – engaging the audience to contribute and collaborate.

Younger workforce is exposed to these technologies and expects

the same in organizations.

India has the advantage of a ―demographic dividend‖ (Murthy,

2009) – a rise of working age population, coupled with rapid

growth in the IT sector. These organizations, either Indian owned

or subsidiaries of foreign companies must be facing similar issues

with KM but, there is a lack of research. Same is the case with

Web 2.0 and its usage across the India based IT organizations.

The purpose of this research is to qualitatively examine if

Web 2.0 is being adopted and used as per the existing findings

of the literature. Specifically, this research aims to answer the

following questions:

In the Indian IT companies, is Knowledge Management

practiced and does it depend on the organization size?

Is Web 2.0 understood by employees and management in

IT organizations?

Is Web 2.0 being used for KM in the IT organizations in


Does top management and leadership play a role in

adoption of Web 2.0 in the organizations?

The research objectives, methodologies and findings are part

of the following sections.


The purpose of this research is to understand how Web 2.0

is being used and how the knowledge is being management in

India-based IT organizations. The best primary source of

information would be the people within these organizations who

would be exposed to the tools and processes. However, there

was an issue with directly asking an opinion on Knowledge

Management process or Web 2.0 since it assumed that all

employees would understand be aware of these specific topics.

To work-around the problem, the research tried to gain an

understanding of the typical tools and processes involved in

gathering knowledge, the method by which knowledge was

shared and exposure to specific tools like blogs and wikis.

Senior management opinion was necessary to answer the

broader question on strategy that organizations use for

implementing the knowledge management system and how they

viewed Web 2.0. The role of leadership and the importance of

specific cultural aspects like trust in helping adoption was also

explored via the research through senior management‘s opinion.

Opinions from employees was used to build the foundation of

the research whilst the senior management‘s opinion was

necessary to address the strategic aspects associated with KM

and Web 2.0.

During the research process, a successful implementation of

Web 2.0 in Knowledge Management was identified. This specific

implementation is presented as a case study to illustrate the

validity of the research findings.

This research involved understanding the perception of

employees on Knowledge Management and Web 2.0, the way

they use it and adopt it and the role of senior management in

designing or leading the adoption.

3.1 Research Objectives

Knowledge management, as examined in the previous chapter

has faced a lot of challenges in implementation. Web 2.0 being

relatively new has its own set of gray areas. IT organizations

operating in India have not been researched in depth with

respect to the impact and issues faced in implementing a

Knowledge Management program and adoption of Web 2.0. The

purpose of this research is to initiate this examination and

propose a framework for implementing a Knowledge Management

program while adopting the best practices and philosophy of Web

2.0. Specifically, this research tries to answer following questions:

1. Does IT organizations in India stress on Knowledge


2. Does the importance of KM vary with the size of the


3. How is Web 2.0 being perceived and utilized by IT

organizations operating in India?

4. Highlight the pain points in implementation of successful

KM programs and Web 2.0 initiatives.

5. Understand if the Web 2.0 adoption was bottom-up or

strategically implemented as a top-down program.

6. Does the top management and leadership play a role in

the adoption of Web 2.0 initiatives?

7. Identify if Web 2.0 will:

a. Act as the new Knowledge Management system

b. Complement existing KM systems OR

c. Remain separate from existing KM systems

8. Propose a framework for implementing a Web 2.0 based

KM program.

3.2 Research Methodology

The authors objective is to understand the adoption and

impact of Web 2.0 in a few IT organizations of India. Since Web

2.0 is a new concept and at various stages of adoption,

understanding how employees are learning and using it was an

important point to analyze.

According to Collis and Hussey (2003), phenomology deals

with the subjective state of the individual. Remenyi (1998)

explained that a positivistic research is independent of and

neither affects nor is affected by the subject of the research and

the results can be generalized in a mathematical model. This

research does not fall either into a clear ‗positive‘ paradigm or a

‗phenomological‘ paradigm. It includes aspects of identifying

mathematical relationship (e.g.: if organizational size has an impact

on KM activities) as well as subjective insights (e.g.: perception of KM

as a means to make employees redundant).

The research consisted of an online questionnaire for

employees from various organizations with follow-up clarification

email where necessary. Ideally, semi-structured interviews with

each research participant would have yielded ‗richer‘ information

necessary for a better qualitative research. However, due to time

constraints, a questionnaire to general participants had to be

used. According to Bell (2005), survey can be used to obtain

information which can be analyzed and patterns can be extracted along

with making comparisons. They are also a cost effective way of

obtaining information.

Surveys are good to find the ‗what?‘, ‗where?‘, ‗when?‘ and ‗how‘

but not necessarily the ‗why?‘. However, causal relationships are

generally hard to identify through a survey (Bell, 2005). Semi-

structured interviews lend themselves to this exploratory research

(Saunders et al., 2003) According to Wass and Wells (1994),

semi-structured interviews can be used to explain the themes

that have emerged from the use of questionnaire. Hence,

semi-structured interviews were held with two senior managers to

gain a more in-depth and a broader perspective.

Figure 19 Why Questionnaire and Interviews?

Conclusions are based on level of agreement with the

previous literature and points of digression. Based on the inputs

from the participants of questionnaire and the interview, a

framework for implementing Web 2.0 is presented.

3.3 Research Design

Earlier researchers have identified the generic trends in usage

of Web 2.0 tools (Bughin, et al, 2008; Chui, et al., 2009)

According to Tapscott and Williams (2006), the greatest impact of

new collaborative technologies has been in the production of

information goods, such as software, media and entertainment

products (p25). Hence, the focus of research is organizations

involved in software services or software product development.

The initial research done was to identify trends in usage and

understanding of Web 2.0 and Knowledge Management in such

IT organizations. Towards this purpose, an online survey was

initiated to employees of various organizations.

3.3.1 Questionnaire Survey – Design & Rationale

The complete sample size of the target audience was the

entire set of employees in the IT organizations working in India.

Gaining access to information on this population would be very

difficult and hence, probability sampling was not used. Instead,

non-probability sampling was used since the author would have

the liberty to identify specific survey respondents and thus violating

the principle of probability sampling where ‗each item in

population should have equal chance of being selected‘ (Research

Methods and Dissertation, 2006). The salient features of the sample

size were:

Statistical inferences were not necessary since the research

objective is to identify a general trend.

It is hard to get a representative sample due to limitation

of time and researchers‘ resources.

The purpose of the research is exploratory and identify

individuals for the questionnaire was based on features like

their total experience and age.

A sampling technique of Purposive sampling with a focus on key

themes was necessary. Hence, a sampling technique of

heterogeneous sampling was used. (See figure 20 for the flow-chart)

The respondents for the questionnaire were chosen from a

sample with two different set of experience levels. Employees

with 6 years or less of experience formed one set of participants

and those with more experience formed the second set. The first

group of respondents would have been exposed to nascent Web

2.0 initiatives either when they started the career or during their

college days. According to Levy (2009), as noted in Section

2.5.7, younger population is already exposed to the Web 2.0

tools and expect same in the workplace. This group, the author

felt would utilize the tools more than the older employees.

The second set of respondents would have seen the evolution

of Knowledge Management as well as the impact (if any) by

Web 2.0 on KM. The survey further classified the respondents as

employees into two categories:

1. Employees working for Indian IT companies: An Indian IT

company according to this research, is an organization that

has its core development/support office in India. The

customers of such a company could be globally located.

Typical examples of such companies are Infosys, Wipro,

TCS, Cognizant, HCL, etc. These companies generally

design and implement their KM strategy from India.

2. Employees working for multi-nationals that operate in India

but, could have a global spread. IBM, Accenture, Microsoft

are some examples of such companies. Such organizations

could import the Knowledge Management strategy that is

developed in US (or parent country) and customize it to

India. The research method is summarized in table below:

The classification was done to identify if there was any

remarkable differences in the way these organizations operated in

terms of Knowledge Management and Web 2.0. In section 2.6, it

was noted that traditional Indian organizations had an

organizational culture that is more hierarchical and less averse to

risk taking while the new IT organizations had a more culture

that resembled the US culture of risk-taking and individual


The questions within the survey were categorized into following

1. Questions on organizational structure and organizational


2. Prevalence of a Knowledge Management system and its


3. Web 2.0, its perception, usage and future plans.

Here is the mapping of the objectives of the research (listed on

page 73) to specific questions within the questionnaire:

TABLE 3 Research Objectives and Survey questions

Objective# Research Objective Question Numbers

*Background 1, 2
*Organization size 3, 4, 5
1 Stress on KM by IT Organizations 17-27
2 KM - importance varies with organization size 22-27
3 Perception of Web 2.0 28, 29, 30, 35, 36, 37

4 Pain points in KM and Web 2.0 implementation

Technology 6-15, 23-27
5 Web 2.0: Top down or bottom up 31,32, 33
6 Role of top management in Web 2.0 32, 33, 34
7 Web 2.0 helps KM or different? No direct questions
8 Framework of Web 2.0 based KM No direct questions
* questions necessary for background research, no mapping to research

The first set of questions was used to identify the type of a

leadership, the level of trust, and the level of openness that is

present in an organization. These set of questions were meant to

establish the organizational structure, organizational culture and

the type of leadership prevalent in IT organizations. According to

Section 2.2, effective Knowledge Management is dependent on

prevalence of trust within the organization and a form of

leadership that is espouses drive, questioning and encourage

employees to contribute. The questions also tried to identify if a

‗collaborative culture‘, as defined in section existed in

organizations that came across as being good at KM.

The second set of questions was used for understanding the

existing Knowledge Management practices as seen by general

employees, rather than from the perspective of top management.

These questions were to establish if the organization was

operating in the ‗double‘ or ‗deutero-loop learning‘ mode, which is

necessary to be a good learning organization (Section 2.2.2).

The final set of questions within this section were to help identify

the technologies used commonly for communicating and sharing

knowledge. Section identified the commonly used

technologies and the questions were to identify if there any tools

not already explored in the research.

TABLE 4 Methodology for Questionnaire Research

Sampling technique Purposive sampling

(Heterogeneous sampling)

Sampling Unit Employees from selected


Sample size 33

Research Instrument Online questionnaire

The final set of questions was to help gauge the level of

exposure, understanding and usage of Web 2.0 technologies in

various organizations. The initial questions were to identify if

employees understand the concept of Web 2.0. As seen in section

2.5.1, Web 2.0 has a very vague imprint and people are often confused

between the concept of Web 2.0 and its technologies. The aim of the

questions were to how clear employees were in understanding

the concept and tools, and the patterns of usage and to identify

if there was any noticeable difference between the usage

patterns highlighted by various authors as explained in section


Attempt was also made to identify of how Web 2.0 enters the

organization and the road ahead, as seen by the employees. For

this, the questions had to be put at two different levels. One

involved identifying the manifestations of use and direct opinions.

An example of manifestation of use was – does senior

management communication happen via blogs or videos as

compared to emails and face-to-face meetings. In the literature,

authors feel that Web 2.0 enters organizations via individual

employees and then spreads in a bottom-up manner. The aim

was to analyze if the same happened in Indian organizations or

if Web 2.0 usage was still a strategic, top-management decision.

3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews – Design & Rationale

The questionnaire responses was followed by semi-structured

interviews with senior managers who were either responsible or

have seen the evolution of the Knowledge Management and the

Web 2.0 systems in Indian IT organizations. Two telephonic

interviews were held. Both the respondents have more than 10

years of experience in KM and have been working in India-based

IT organizations.

Semi-structured interview and open ended questions allow

for responses to reflect the richness and complexity of views

(Denscombe, 2003). The purpose of these interviews were to

gather anecdotal evidence, best practices and lessons learnt in

the implementation of the KM and Web 2.0 systems with the

Indian context.

Identification of the participants was based on the following

Statistical inferences were not necessary since the purpose

of interview was to build on the questionnaire data.

It is hard to get a representative sample due to limitation

of access to such senior managers.

Focus was on senior managers who had an exposure to

Web 2.0 and worked for implementing KM for their

respective organizations to provide an in-depth expertise.

Figure 20 Non-probability Sampling methods

Based on the above points, a purposive sampling with a focus

on in-depth knowledge was necessary. In other words, a

homogenous sampling method was used. (See figure 20 for flow-

chart). The sampling methodology is summarized in table below.

TABLE Methodology for Semi-structured Interviews

Sampling technique Purposive sampling of senior

managers who have

implemented or worked

supervised the

implementation efforts of

Web 2.0/KM systems

Homogeneous sampling

Sampling Unit Employees from selected


Sample size 2

Research Instrument Semi-structured interview

Follow-up emails were used with both the interview

participants and a few of the questionnaire respondents as well.

These emails threw up points that the author hadn‘t anticipated.

For example, one email led to question if Web 2.0 is not being
adopted precisely because it is open and reduced management‘s



The first part of the research involved an on line

questionnaire and the second half of research involved sem-

structured interviews. The findings of the questionnaire survey are

presented in section 4.1 and the interview summary is presented

in section 4.2.

4.1 Web 2.0 and KM – Employees perspective

An online survey was published and 33 participants were

identified based on the organization size and experience levels. A

sample questionnaire has been in included in Appendix 2. 20

usable responses were received from the survey. (See table


17 of the respondents were from India-based IT

organizations while 3 of the participants were from multi-national

organizations that have an office in India. The organizations were

split into 4 different categories based on the number of


Small organizations (0-499)

Mid-sized organization (1000-4999)

Large organization (5000 and above)

TABLE 5 Questionnaire response summary

Survey No of respondents
Total respondents 33
Partially complete 11
Total complete 22
Incomplete/unusable survey 2
Total useful surveys 20

There was a category for organizations with 500-999

employees, but no responses were received for this category.

(See Fig 19)

The research findings are split into 3 sections, regarding the

Organizational Research, findings on KM and opinions about Web


Figure 21 Respondent organization type and size

4.1.1 Organizational Structure and Organizational Culture

According to literature, Knowledge Management requires a

culture where trust is built-in and employees feel empowered to

share the knowledge. The first set of questions were to identify

the type of culture prevalent in the organizations.

Based on the survey, all the respondents felt that their

organizational environment was ‗friendly‘ and ‗personal‘ with the

colleagues being part of a ‗family‘. This finding is similar to the

research by other authors (Hofstede, 1980 & 1991; Budwar,

2001; Deshpande, et al., 1999) who identified that a group

orientation and low masculinity are features of the Indian national

culture. On the question of leadership, ‗entrepreneurial‘ culture

seems to be the most prevalent followed by a coordinator type

of leadership As the size of the organization grows, the primary

leadership type changed from being entrepreneurial to being more

paternalistic and coordinational. All three leadership patterns are

similar to the findings in by Liddell (2005).

Figure 22 Leadership types in Indian IT Organizations

Trust has been pointed out as an important factor for

organizations to have an effective Knowledge Management

initiative (section 2.3.1) or a Web 2.0 program (section 2.5.3).

According to Ellonen, et al. (2008), the key factor contributing

to knowledge sharing culture and innovation is trust. The survey

asked respondents whether they trusted their colleagues and

superiors. In the small and mid-sized organizations, all

respondents trusted their colleagues and superiors equally, and

completely. However, in larger organizations, employees tend to

trust their colleagues more than their superiors. There is a

relatively less trust in superiors despite a majority of respondents

agreeing that there is very good communication between senior

management and staff. This lack of horizontal and especially

vertical trust, could act as a challenge towards effective

implementation of Knowledge management or Web 2.0 efforts.

The exact cause of this reduction in trust, apart from

organizational size is not clear.

Figure 23 Trust in organizations

Kanungo and Mendonca (1994) and Budhwar (2001) had

concluded that Indians were generally not open to change and

did not like to take ownership of tasks. This would imply an

organization with formal processes and bureaucracy to ensure

compliance or an organization with stress on tradition.

However, 90% of respondents (18 out of 20) in this survey

felt complete ownership of their task. Being open to change and

objective goal setting were seen to be important in all

organizations. KM and Web 2.0 requires individuals to have a

sense of ownership. Without the freedom, individuals may not

reflect and analyze a situation and double-loop or deuteron loop

learning may not exist.

Employees in large organizations felt that ‗loyalty and

tradition‘ was as important as ‗innovation and change‘ when

asked what holds the organization together (figure 24). There

appears to be a gradual change in the risk appetite and

openness to change.

Figure 24 What holds organization together?

The next question asked if the employees felt that their

opinions were considered in their organization for decision

making. This question is loosely tied to level of trust and the

openness of senior management to seek feedback from


66% of the respondents felt that their opinions mattered

while 20 % were not clear if their opinions . The rest were not

sure on the importance placed to their opinions. Hence, close to

40% of employees are not sure if their opinions matter implying

that the decision making is still either hierarchical and or the

decision making process is opaque and individual opinions are

not acknowledged.

In summary, according to the survey, the broad picture of

an Indian IT organization is that of a place driven by

commitment, having a friendly and family-oriented atmosphere ;a

place where individuals feel ownership for their own sphere of

work and tend to trust each other. The role of a leader is that of

an entrepreneur, mentor or coordinator depending on size of

organization. Employees feel measured on performance by clear

goals, but are not completely sure if their opinions matter.

4.1.2 Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management

In this section of questionnaire, the respondents were asked

question on how knowledge is created, captured, formatted,

shared and rewarded (Bhat, 2001). The first few questions were

to gauge the prevalence of basic systems for capture

organizational knowledge. Almost all the organizations seem to

have some form of a knowledge sharing system as well as a

discussion forum (See figure 23). Two of the small organizations

said they don‘t have an enterprise level knowledge sharing

system but, they did have standard templates for sharing


Figure 25 Existence of a Basic KM

The next question put to the survey audience was on the

clarity of Knowledge Management process in terms of knowledge

capture. This is the first step in Knowledge Management, as per

Bhat‘s model (section and closely resembles the

‗experimentation‘ phase of a learning organization (section 2.2).

The respondents were asked to rate their choice for the 5

parameters (Figure 26). Here, ‗hard knowledge‘ is recording

information like the technical complexity, identifying best practices,

etc. ‗Soft‘ knowledge is information necessary for personal rapport

with the customer or the customer‘s preferences. For example,

this could the preference of emails for communication rather than

calls by a customer.

In one of the small organizations, the respondent indicated

that they had a clear process for problem solving but, were not

open to experimentation. The same respondent was not sure if

he/she was supposed to record the learning from project. In a

start-up, the employee indicated that they only record ‗soft‘

information but no other knowledge is captured. Finally, in

another small organization, knowledge seems to be recorded by

individuals but it is not shared.

In most organizations, ‗soft‘ information seems to captured well

but, ‗hard‘ information is not being captured efficiently. A lot of

responses were marked ‗Neither agree nor disagree‘ indicating

the respondents were not completely clear on the expectation

from the organization.

Figure 26 Effectiveness in 'capturing' knowledge

The next two survey questions were on openness and

freedom in sharing information. Members in a learning

organization, as per Garvin (1993) must be good at learning from

their own experience and from experience of others. This entails

an ability to share the learnings, reflect and brain-storm on

improvements. This process is similar to the ‗double-loop learning‘

and the ‗knowledge validation‘ step in Batt‘s model (section 2.2.2


As per the survey, the amount of freedom seems to reduce

as the organization size increases. The role of a designated

gatekeeper for information as well as the importance of a

centralized team responsible for facilitating sharing of knowledge

increases with the increase in organization size (figure 27).

Similarly, the importance of middle managers as decision-maker

for sharing information increased with increase in organization


An interesting aspect when looking at the result is that earlier

respondents felt that horizontal and vertical trust reduced with

organizational size. Here, it is felt that freedom reduces with

organizational size. This leads to an interesting point that as trust

reduces, the freedom for employees to start initiatives and share

ideas reduces.

Figure 27 Role of gatekeepers and Centralized KM team

The final set of questions in this section was on rewards

and recognition for those who contribute and share knowledge.

De Long and Fahey (2000) had hypothesized in their study that

the organizational culture itself can act as a motivator for

knowledge creation, sharing and use. The responses from this

survey corroborates the findings. Rather than recognition, a

collaborative culture has been noted as the main reason for

sharing knowledge (41% overall). This is followed by recognition

by senior management through emails, meetings and other non-

financial rewards (figure 28). In large organizations, the CXO

blogs were pointed out by respondents as an important medium

for recognizing an individual‘s contribution as well encouraging

and motivating employees for sharing knowledge (20%).

Figure 28 Motivation to share knowledge

Summarizing this part of questionnaire responses, most

organizations seem to use some form of a portal/discussion

forum. There appears a bit of confusion in knowledge capture.

Technical and process related learnings are not being effectively

captured. This particular weakness violates the definition of

‗learning organization‘ (Garvin, 1993) as well as the double-loop

learning (Argyris and Schön, 1978). To be termed as true

‗learning organization‘ more effective capturing of the ‗hard‘

knowledge is necessary. Organizations depend on a ‗culture of

sharing‘ as the prime motivator for knowledge sharing rather than

any specific motivation/rewards mechanism. However, larger the

organizational size, the motivation and freedom to share reduces.

Thus, there is a contradictory requirement – better knowledge

dissemination is achieved through a culture of sharing but, the

motivation and freedom to share reduces as the organizational

size increases. An organization requiring an effective KM will

thus need to build a culture of trust that is retained even as it

grows in size. Web 2.0 with its ability to reach all employees or

with a freedom to engage a micro-audience can play a significant

role in balance this requirement. Such an effective use is

highlighted in the case study under section 4.6.

4.1.3 Web 2.0 – Perception and Usage

In the third and final section of the questionnaire, respondents

were asked about their understanding of Web 2.0, their

perception of how it is being used and how they see it

impacting their organization.

According to various researchers (EIU, 2007; Adams, 2008;

Levy, 2009), Web 2.0 suffers from a lack of clarity due to

multiplicity of definitions. The primary definition of Web 2.0 should

include ‗user generated content‘ followed by its utility of sharing

and collaboration. EIU (2007) had found that there was a

possibility of users getting stuck in the ‗trappings‘ of Web 2.0

while losing sight of the core concept of ‗network effect‘.

However, in this the survey, it appears that the respondents

generally understand the technologies that adhere to concept of

Web 2.0 while not always being clear on Web 2.0 as a concept

(figure 28). 85% of users understood Web 2.0 as ‗sharing and

collaboration‘ signifying that they were not trapped in just the

technology of Web 2.0.

Figure 29 Survey Response: What is Web 2.0?

The next 2 questions were to identify the tools used by

respondents as compared to the tools used within the

organizations. This question was used to understand if there was

a gap in terms of tools used by individuals and if there was a

lag in organizational adoption. Most individual users as well as

organizations use Wikis, Blogs, RSS and Web . Within

organizations, social networking and tagging is lagging by a

larger percentage when compared to individual use (figure 30).

This could be due to lack of proper software and integration

effort for the products, which was identified by a senior manager

in a clarification email.

Figure 30 Web 2.0 – Which tools do you use?

On the question of ‗Why does your organization use Web

2.0?‘ (figure 31), the responses were similar to the findings of

study by Bughin, et al. (2008) 85% of the respondents felt that

―Managing Knowledge‖ is the primary internal use of Web 2.0

followed by ―fostering collaboration‖ and ―Training‖. Further, the

survey found that in 75% of the cases, senior managers were

leading or encouraging the initiatives.

When combined with the findings of Chiu, et. al., (2009)

(section 2.5.6), the tools used are chiefly for broad collaboration

and communication and the purpose of Web 2.0 is mainly for

content generation and community building. Usage of tagging and

social networking tools would help in both the purpose and

enhance the ‗pattern of interactions‘ thereby enhancing the

organizational knowledge, as envisioned by Bhat (see Section


Figure 31 Why does your organization use Web 2.0?

EIU (2007) identified lack of exposure to open source

technologies as a hindrance in Web 2.0 adoption. In the IT

companies surveyed, 70% felt their organization had capability to

use Open Source platforms and thus adopt Web 2.0

technologies. As the organizations surveyed are IT companies,

technology itself is not seen as a big hindrance in adoption of

Web 2.0.

The next question in the survey was to identify if Web 2.0

had been adopted bottom-up or via a strategic top-down

approach. According to various research (Bughin, et al., 2008;

Chui, et al., 2009; Levy, 2009 and EIU, 2007) Web 2.0 is

generally a bottom-up movement with the business units driving

the adoption. However, the respondents to this survey were not

so sure. In most organizations, especially in small and mid-sized

organizations, it was the Senior Managers/IT Managers who

choose Web 2.0 tools. However, business units seem to exert

more influence as the organization size increases since

responses were split evenly in large organizations (Figure 32).

Figure 32 How is Web 2.0 introduced?

In the next question the respondents were asked if Web

2.0 had made an impact on them and their organizations.

In the organizations that used Web 2.0, peer to peer

communication is seen the greatest improvement (Figure 33). All

5 respondents from small and medium sized organizations agreed

that Web 2.0 improved effectiveness in three aspects: knowledge

sharing, peer communication and senior management

communication. In larger organization, 25% felt no change was

seen in senior management communication. On further email with

a respondent, no improvement was seen in senior management

communication when the senior mangers were not playing a

leadership role in Web 2.0 adoption.

Figure 33 How has Web 2.0 impacted you?

On the question of barriers to Web 2.0, employees clearly

indicated that an organization‘s structure, culture or the leadership

were not seen as an issue. However, lack of incentive coupled

and an unclear ROI were seen as barriers to its success. As

pointed out in Section 4.2.3, this requires more role-models,

frequent recognition mailers, newsletters and non-financial


Figure 34 Barriers to Web 2.0

On the whole, Web 2.0 seems to have made a positive

impact on most organizations. It was seen to improve

communication as well as knowledge sharing. Leadership was not

generally lacking on this effort and organizations seemed to be

technically equipped to work with the Web 2.0 tools. The

satisfaction was confirmed with the final response where 80%

agreed that their organization was planning to expand use of

Web 2.0. A need for training employees and ensuring the

involvement of senior managers in the adoption was also pointed

out in the survey.

4.1.4 Survey Summary

The Indian IT organization is seen as a place filled with a

family-oriented atmosphere, led by a leader acting as an

entrepreneur/mentor. Performance goals seem to be relatively

clear and there is a sense of ownership. Organizations seem to

be having issues in capturing knowledge and generally depend

on a culture of sharing for contribution. Encouragement and

motivation for contributing to Knowledge management effort is

lacking. Finally, Web 2.0 is seen as an enabler for better sharing

and collaborating. It is not seen as a technical challenge and

employees are generally open to use the tools.

With respect to the research objectives, following were clear from

the survey:

Knowledge sharing happens in organization but, the steps of

Knowledge capture and validation are not clear to all


Importance of Knowledge management appears to be more

important in larger organizations than smaller organizations.

Web 2.0 technologies are quite well understood, but, the usage

is limited to collaboration and communication (mainly wikis and

blogs). The technology underlying these tools is not seen as a


However, there were a few unanswered questions from the


On the question of barriers to Web 2.0, 30% of

respondents were not sure if the incentives were sufficient.

With a work-experience of at least 6 years for most

respondents, this lack of clarity needs investigation.

Even though senior management is involved in introducing

Web 2.0, it was not clear if the introduction was done as

a pilot or as a strategic launch across organization.

The specific tools used for Web 2.0 initiatives and

Knowledge Management program were not clear.

Employees are unclear if their contributions are seen

valuable. There is a perception that sufficient

encouragement is not being provided for contributing

towards knowledge sharing. If Senior Management is

committed to KM, this lack of encouragement is unclear.

As organizations grow in size, the amount of freedom and

trust reduces. For an effective KM and Web 2.0 effort,

these two factors are essential. It is not clear how the

growth and erosion of freedom and trust can be balanced.

To answer these questions and to gain a further clarity on

the actual process of KM/Web 2.0 implementation, two semi-

structured interviews were conducted. The findings from these

interviews are explained in the next section.

4.2 Web 2.0 and KM – Management Perspective

Two telephonic semi-structured interviews were held to explore

the unanswered questions from the previous section. One

interviewee is responsible for KM initiative in the Asia region of a

very large global product company. The second interviewee is the

former Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) of a huge IT services

organization. The findings are based on the meeting notes

(Ranganath, 2009a; Ranganath 2009b). Unfortunately, the

complete contents of the meeting notes could not added to the

appendix due to the corporate policies of the organizations.

4.2.1 About KM – Current state and challenges

One of the managers defined KM as ensuring availability of

information to the consultants whenever they needed and felt that

Drucker was right that knowledge is the primary competitive advantage

in any modern organization (section 1). The definition of KM is similar

to the work of O‘Dell and Grayson (section 2.3).

According to one senior manager, KM has been around in

most organizations in one form or another. KM implementation

generally starts with simple project repositories and evolves into a

combination of tools including expertise databases, training

portals, workspaces and discussion forums. These are the

conventional KM systems that were described in section

However, there are three main challenges seen in the existing

KM systems:

Objective: In many organizations, it was difficult to

motivate people to contribute. One of the primary reasons

is the very objective of KM. According to a manager,

employees perceive KM systems as a knowledge repository

that hordes knowledge so that the organizations did not

suffer when the employees quit. Since KM systems not

perceived as productivity enhancement applications, their

usage was low.

Participation: Participation on KM systems is generally

very low. Encouraging experts to document their knowledge

is generally difficult. In typical KM systems, usage has

been observed to be very low and this low usage further

discourages experts to contribute. Discussion forums are

the only platforms where the participation has been

generally better.

Alignment: Aligning the goals of KM and the business has

generally been challenging. Without sufficient time from

Senior Managers, getting the right alignment is seen to be

difficult. Over the past few years, however, senior business

managers have taken responsibility of KM and this has

helped in better alignment.

Rapid growth: As per one senior manager, their

organization was witnessing a rapid growth and effective

KM systems are necessary to quickly assimilate the new


Indian culture: The Indian national culture too plays a part

in hampering the sharing of knowledge. Three aspects of

the culture act as barriers to KM:

o Indians typically face a lot of competition during

education. Due to extreme competition, they generally

don‘t like to trust or share knowledge.

o Indians have a tendency for using information without

providing feedback. Contributors are thus discouraged

since they don‘t get an opinion on the acceptance of

their work.

o Finally, hierarchy in organizations prevents an open

communication and feedback.

The underlying cause for many issues could be a lack of

clarity on the objective of a KM system, an organizational culture

that doesn‘t promote sharing or an incentive structure that doesn‘t

reward collaboration. These points would be against the building

blocks of a learning organization (section 2.2) and seriously

hamper the integration of individual knowledge into the

organizational knowledge base.

However, Indians are generally open to a paternalistic

leadership and respond well to mentoring. A senior management

actively involved in sharing and encouraging participation is seen

important in effective KM.

Knowledge Management In Small Organizations

In smaller organizations, ‗everyone knows everyone‘. In such a

situation, people tend to walk to other person‘s desk or send an

email for specific information. Enterprise KM systems are

generally not used, nor is it effective. However, a small system

with simple information regarding corporate policies would be

useful in ramping up new employees. A full-fledged KM system

is seen useful when:

Organizations are spread across multiple geographies/offices

The organization is undergoing a rapid growth and needs

to assimilate new employees faster.

The primary challenge in such large organizations is the

erosion of trust and motivation to share across teams. The

secondary challenge is the ‗know-who‘ problem. Since each

person does not every other employee, approaching the right

person for a given problem tends to get difficult.

4.2.2 Where does Web 2.0 fit in?

When asked the question, ―Does Web 2.0 fit into the

philosophy and concepts of KM?‖, both the senior managers

answered in affirmative. Web 2.0 is seen as a mechanism that

elevates the practice of KM through better participation and

usage by employees.

Web 2.0 and sustaining trust

The primary concern identified in previous section was the

lack of trust, both culturally and organizationally that contributes

to a incompletely effective KM.

According to the managers, through its philosophy of being

―open, public and transparent‖ (Ranganath, 2009b), Web 2.0

builds more trust and adoption increases. The relatively young IT

employees are already familiar with the tools and are willing to

share and collaborate (Ranganath, 2009a). The new technology is

thus seen to help in creation of virtual relationships by the

means of ―weak ties‖ relationships (Granovetter, 1973). This

hypothesis says that it is possible to reach people outside the

group of known people (―strong ties‖) and generally it is these

people who have novel or innovative solutions. Thus, Web 2.0 is

able to sustain the culture of trust even as the organization

grows as well as addressing the ‗know-who‘ problem. Social

networking concepts of Web 2.0 is specifically targeted at

addressing the ‗know-who‘ problem and leveraging the ‗weak ties‘

relationship as explained in section 2.5.4.

Web 2.0 and engaging the employees

Web 2.0 is also seen as a better mechanism to tap into the

‗wisdom of the crowds‘ (Surowiecki, 2004). This is seen through

the ability to engage the audience via blogs or freedom to edit

Wiki pages or the ability to add meaning through tagging and

making this available to everyone. Prior to Web 2.0, only

discussion forums managed to tap the knowledge held by


Web 2.0 is also seen as an effective tool for capturing the

―know-who‖ along with the ―know-how‖ (Ranganath, 2009a).

Traditional KM stressed on capturing knowledge but did not

effectively cater to the question of identifying an expertise with a

person. By using the tagging functionality and identifying topics

generally blogged or wiki edits by a person, experts can be

identified. This mechanism helps in building a ‗yellow-page‘ of

experts through the contribution of users, rather than through a

centralized classification exercise. This concept is similar to the

meritocracy in open source software development described by

Tapscott and Williams (2006). This meritocracy itself acts as a

motivator. Getting into the ‗yellow-page‘ as an expert is seen as

a positive challenge and a motivator towards more contribution.

Web 2.0 – Tools that matter

The table below summarizes the tools that are mainly used in

the Web 2.0 initiatives.

Tools like mashups and ‗collective estimation‘ identified by

Bughin et al., (2008) are not yet prevalent in IT organizations.

Although no clear reason was identified, the author opines that

these tools being a higher-order deployments could be used after

the basic Web 2.0 tool adoption is more mature.

TABLE 6 Web 2.0 Technologies in Use

Web 2.0 technology Status

Blogs, Wikis, Tagging, Discussion forums,
Shared workspaces In use
RSS, Social Networking, Podcasts years

Blogs and Wikis are seen as the most prevalent tools even by

the senior managers along with the traditional KM tools like

shared workspaces.

4.2.3 Challenges in Web 2.0 adoption

Here are a few challenges in Web 2.0 adoption that were

identified by the two interviewees:

Management buy-in

Web 2.0 being ‗inherently disruptive‘ (Chui, et al., 2009) has

its own challenges from a management perspective. Web 2.0 is

seen to turn the concept of KM upside down. In the traditional

KM, senior management is the main driver and gaining the

adoption and buy-in of all employees was difficult.

On the other hand, Web 2.0 being bottom-up and

participative, is easier to adopt by users. For a better

participation, Web 2.0 initiatives cannot have rigorous procedures.

However, Management feels a loss of control due to openness

and getting their buy-in is challenging. This is the exact same

problem identified by Chiu et al., (2009) and detailed in section


Thus, a Senior Manager who is already aware of Web 2.0

and who can lead by example in Web 2.0 adoption is seen to

be effective in gaining the buy-in from management as well as

encouraging better participation from all employees. This is similar

to the observation by Chiu, et al. (2009, p5) that ―transformation

to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top‖.

Participation, Recognition and Education

To ensure people adopt and participate, encouragement is

necessary. (Chui, et al., 2009) Rather than just financial rewards,

recognition through newsletters and corporate occasions have

been effective (Ranganath, 2009b).

To gain a better adoption, training, awareness campaigns and

‗unconferences‘ (Monahan, 2007) have been found to be very

useful. The case study in the next section provides an example

of different modes of encouragement that have proven to be


While interviewing the senior managers, it came across to the

author that both the mangers were very hands-on users of

blogging platforms like Wordpress as well as social networkers

using KCommunity (a KM community). Outside of their work too,

the managers were active in community-building via constantly

questioning, encouraging and challenging other users on their

blog site and the other portals. Such a leadership was one of

the criteria identified as necessary for building a good learning

organization (Section 2.2).

Metrics and ROI

Metrics are generally a pain in the KM industry (Ranganath,

2009a). However, a starting point would to be measure two

main aspects of Web 2.0 – contribution and consumption. For

example, few metrics related to blogs that are useful would be

number of unique contributors, number of blog posts, average

number of blog views and comments (Adams, 2008). Such

primary metrics provide information on the usage and adoption of

the tools.

Secondary metrics are not standardized and depends on the

business objective being met. For example, one organization used

the metric ‗effort saved‘ to measure the effectiveness of the

discussion forum. It compared the time taken to solve a problem

via discussion forum as against time it would have taken without

the forum.

During the interviews, it was striking that the traditional

analysis of ‗cost v/s benefit‘ was not raised since the inherent

belief was KM has an unlimited ROI (Ranganath, 2009a) and

thus escaping the common short-sightedness that many

organizations face while embarking on KM (see ‗challenges to

KM‘, section 2.4).

Products Used

The latest version of Sharepoint by Microsoft has been seen

to address multiple KM requirements by one manager. Since

most organizations already use Microsoft products, adopting

Sharepoint is seen to be easier.

Other technologies that are generally used for KM and Web

2.0 initiative are summarized in table below.

TABLE 7 Web 2.0 / KM Products in Use

KM / Web 2.0 Requirement Product Used

Blogging Sharepoint / Wordpress /

Enterprise version of Wordpress

Wiki Confluence

Search Sharepoint search, Apache


Social bookmarking / tagging Custom built

Reporting / metrics Custom built / Product provided

Both the mangers were not stuck with any specific technology

or product, escaping the traditional trap of being stuck with the

technical aspects of KM or Web 2.0 (see section 2.4 and section


4.2.4 Web 2.0 and unanticipated benefits

According to the interviewees, Web 2.0 implementation has

led to benefits that were not planned and were quite completely

unanticipated (Ranganath, 2009a). Some of them are:

‘Stronger employee engagement’: In larger organizations,

newcomers may not feel appreciated. Through participation

and contribution to web 2.0 initiatives like blogs, discussion

forums and social bookmarking, such employees can feel a

stronger affiliation and a sense of recognition. Similarly, the

author observed talent groups like photography group,

trekking communities and open source evangelists

participating, blogging and engaging with each other which

bolstered the feeling of being a part of the ‗family‘.

CSR Initiatives: In one of the organizations, a community

of employees was formed on the blog platform, working

towards giving back to community. Such an effective usage

of the platform was well-received and was provided with

funding and adoption as the corporate CSR program.

4.2.5 Summary of Interviews

The main objective of the interviews were to get a

management perspective on Knowledge Management and Web

2.0 and to address the gaps identified in the survey

questionnaire. The gaps were quite clearly addressed through

these interviews. Apart from the gaps, a few important

observations came to the fore:

The senior managers are aware of the employees‘ concern

that KM is disguised to extract knowledge to make them

redundant. This concern is being addressed through

educating and proving the value of using KM and Web 2.0

as productivity tools.

From the interviews, it is clear that Senior Managers are

aware of the contribution-consumption problem where

experts don‘t contribute due to lack of audience and

people don‘t use a system due to lack of quality articles.

Web 2.0 can be used successfully to surmount the passive

consumption through the usage of blogs for more active

participation since it is capable of even engaging with the

‗long-tail‘ topics and communicating to micro-audience

(Anderson, 2004).

By regularly communicating the importance of the

contributions via senior management blogs and emails,

organizations have started to address the motivational

needs of employees. A unique thought was introduction of

a ‗frequent-contributor‘ points that can be redeemed for

various goodies.

Within the organizations, Web 2.0 is being introduced as a

pilot and with a strategic intent. In most cases, clear

objectives and policies exist for the introduction of Web 2.0

applications. However, the underlying framework is kept

flexible to introduce new tools. Clearly, the introduction of

Web 2.0 is considered strategic and does not follow the

bottom-up approach as suggested by Chiu et al., (2008).

However, usage of a particular tool is still bottom-up. For

example, the decision of introducing a blogs in an

organization is strategic. But, the decision to contribute,

read and comment on others‘ blogs is still a decision by

the employees. So, the quality of the whole system can

improve only with participation and that cannot be easily

mandated. Such a deployment model follows the concept of

emergence (section 2.5.2) which is about managing and

orchestrating self-managed groups for innovations and

creative solutions.

The focus seems to be on leveraging the tags and linking

it to search technology to provide more relevant results to

the users. Tags are being used as metadata and the

provided as an input to the search system as a ‗user-

generated metadata‘. By leveraging user-generated tags,

the search results are being optimized to provide a better

contextual result for the employees.

Finally, KM managers see Web 2.0 as an enabler in the

process of Knowledge management. Some of the tools fit into

the process of capturing knowledge and helping in sharing.

However, Knowledge Management is seen as a much bigger

than just the Web 2.0 philosophy of user-generated content and

collaboration. It is seen as alignment of knowledge activities

towards satisfying the business goals. These business goals vary

from one organization to another and so does the implementation

of the Knowledge Management program.

4.3 Putting it all together – a case study

Following is the case study of an effective KM implementation

that leverages the Web 2.0 technologies and concepts to derive

a better usage and robust sharing of knowledge. The case is

representative of an IT services organization that has a very

large development center presence in India.

Case Study : Implementation of Web 2.0 based KM


About Cognizant

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation provides

information technology (IT) consulting and technology

services, as well as outsourcing services in North

America, Europe, and Asia. It has over 64,000 full-time

employees (Yahoo, 2009). Cognizant is global company

with significant presence in markets like North America

and Europe and development centers in India and China.

(Cognizant, 2009)

The problem

Cognizant has over 64,000 people and growing

rapidly. Knowledge Management was essential to ensure

quick assimilation of newcomers apart from “getting

knowledge to consultants when they need it” (Akshay,


According to the Chief Knowledge Office, Sukumar

Rajagopal, Knowledge Management has two aspects –

contribution and consumption. In the traditional

model, „1% rule applied‟ since the focus was on

contribution. According to this rule, "if you get a group

of 100 people online then one will create content, 10

will „interact‟ with it (commenting or offering

improvements) and the other 89 will just view it".

(Arthur, 2006) Due to low consumption as well as

difficulty in documenting expert knowledge, the

effectiveness of traditional portal based KM systems was

low. Such systems catered only to the “know-how” need

of KM and could not satisfy the “know-who” requirement

necessary in a large organization.

The solution

Increase participation

Instead of addressing the contribution problem,

Cognizant started by addressing the consumption aspect.

Web 2.0 was introduced to build a culture of

participation. Blogs were introduced with a single

corporate policy that essentially asked users not to write

anything that could harm or hurt the organization or

individuals. Bloggers started to contribute with topics

ranging from technological trends to sharing their

hobbies. With average age of employees being mid-20s,

the adoption was easier due to their exposure to the


Contributors and consumers were constantly

encouraged through non-financial rewards ranging from

special recognition on the Senior Management‟s blogs as

well as redeemable points, similar to „frequent flier‟

programs. These points could be exchanged for

Cognizant branded goodies. Frequent training, awareness

weeks and unconferences were held to connect people

face-to-face to increase awareness and usage (Monahan,


Web 2.0 was adopted as a combination of top-down

and grassroots approach. However, the overall adoption

for the organization was a strategic decision.

Router Model of KM

The Router Model of KM is “based on a distributed

architecture where knowledge is not necessarily in one

central knowledge repository”. Instead of having a

centralized repository, search technology is used to

connect the various data sources. A single centralized

repository is difficult to manage (Dusun and Suliman,

2009). A federated system, based on loose integration

would be successful, if the data dictionaries are kept

up-to-date. (p143). Towards this end, the search

indexing occurs daily at Cognizant to keep the data

dictionaries updated.

Thus, with a combination of various technologies, user

generated content and external content is made

available, either as a „pull‟ like search or as a „push‟

via RSS feeds to the employees.

To ensure better searchability, Cognizant is working

on building a controlled vocabulary that can be used for

tagging. However, flexibility is provided to users who

can request for new words to be added. Such requests

are vetted and approved by a centralized team to

maintain integrity of the vocabulary.

Measuring RoI

According to Cognizant, KM has an unlimited RoI.

However, to measure the success of a tool deployment,

two relatively simple metrics have been used – reach

and frequency. The reach metric is a measure of how

many employees are reading the contribution while the

frequency metric is a measure of how many people

are contributing and how often do they make the

contributions. These metrics are used to ensure that the

performance is better than the 1% rule.

According to internal reports, the 1% rule has been

broken almost since the inception of the program and

usage has been quite high and proved very effective.


The purpose of the case study was to help analyze if

the research findings from the survey and interviews

were practical in a real world scenario. The case study

was also used to identify solutions to some of the

issues raised in the research.

The primary concern with Knowledge Management

initiative was identified as alignment of business

objectives with the KM effort. In Cognizant, this

objective was summarized as “getting knowledge to

consultants when they need it”.

The subsequent issue is that of participation - both

due to a lack of motivation and incentive, as well as

the Indian culture of passive consumption. Through the

deployment of blogs and a very open policy on content,

Cognizant ensured that employees started to experiment

with the new platform and finally started to participate

in the blogosphere. With „paternalistic‟ senior managers

acting as role models, the adoption was easier for rest

of employees. Trust was built into the system through a

mechanism not allowing anonymous access combined

with a simple policy of requesting users to not write ill

about organization or other employees. The simplicity

itself added to a better adoption. Watching a senior

manager „walk-the-talk‟ also helped to bring in more


Blogs and tagging helped in the „know-who‟ aspect as

well. For example, looking for expert on a specific topic

was about identifying a person blogging passionately on

the topic and seeking the expert‟s help, as postulated

by Gronovetter (1973). Similarly, new employees could

be assimilated easily by allowing them to blog which

were read and commented by other employees – thus

making the new hires a part of family.

Senior management‟s role in strategically identifying

the tools and deployment of the technology ensured that

the business objectives were monitored and adherence

was tracked.

Due a one or more managers‟ active participation

and demonstration of the Web 2.0 capability, buy-in

from top-management must have been easier. However,

this is a conjecture by the author and not a finding of

the research.

The final point about ensuring a federated search

through a „spoke-and-hub‟ model of Knowledge

Management clearly indicates that Web 2.0 is just one

part of the entire spectrum of Knowledge Management.

Another essential ingredient is a powerful search that

can index and return results from multiple data-sources

in a seamless fashion.

4.4 Discussion

Based on the research and the case study above, many best

practices came forth. The interviews with the managers also

helped identify a thought process that has generally yielded a

good KM system that is robust to accommodate new

technologies like Web 2.0 and ensure relevancy to end users.

The first section is a discussion on the best practices and the

next section develops the generic thought process into a formal

model that can be explored in future research.

4.4.1 Best Practices based on Research

Based on the research and the case study above and the

rest of the research, some of the best practices that were

observed in organizations with an effective Web 2.0 based KM

programs are:

Piloting an implementation: Rather than launch a Web 2.0

initiative at organizational level, pilot a solution or tool and

measure participation. Such experimentation itself is a sign

of a learning organization (section 2.2). Sukumar mentioned

that Web 2.0 initiatives are introduced as ‗pilot with a

strategic intent‘ (Ranganath, 2009a and section 4.2.5).

Focus on addressing the consumption problem: Rather than

solving the 1% problem, try to get more participation by

encouraging users to start by reading. The increased

audience acts as a motivation for contributors leading to

higher contribution and a virtuous cycle is setup.

Active user participation is a hallmark of Web 2.0

(Levy, 2009). Senior Managers can engage with

participants by networking, challenging, questioning, listening

to the feedback and celebrating the successes of

communities (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and Martin,

1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui, et al.,

2009; Bughin, et al., 2009)

Build a flexible IT architecture which is capable of

integrating various tools and applications.

Chiu et al. (2009) identified that a Web 2.0 initiative can

succeed when it gets integrated to existing processes. Such

processes may use various tools and an integration with those

tools would ensure a faster adoption (section 4.1.3). Web 2.0 is

an ideal choice for such a use since most of web 2.0 tools ‗a

relatively lightweight overlay to the existing infrastructure and do

not necessarily require complex technology integration‘ (p2).

Make everything searchable so that instead of just

knowledge documents, search returns relevant information

regarding employees, work projects and tags.

Anderson (2005) writing about collaboration said that

making ‗everything searchable‘ would ensure a higher adoption.

Dursun and Suliman (2009) as noted in section 2.5.8 too

suggest a ‗holistic platform‘ that can be accessed, indexed and

searched so that content is easily accessible to all users.

Do not allow anonymity in access. This should prevent any

potential misuse. This simple step generally assuages the

management concern of losing control (identified in section

2.4) since user activity can be audited and tracked, in case

of any misuse.

Web 2.0 technologies can allow any user to add or

edit content. This could result in potential organizational

issues identified in section 2.5.7. However, shutting out

Web 2.0 systems from an organization would just

encourage users to collaborate outside the organization

(Payne, 2008). Hence, deploying the Web 2.0 tools within

an organization with no anonymous access has been found

to provide a sense of responsibility and traceability required

in an enterprise (Ranganath, 2009a).

Have a simple policy of usage. Essentially, it should

mention that writing anything that is defamatory against an

individual or organization is unacceptable. When information

is taken from another source, the source should be

mentioned clearly. Apart from this, users should have

freedom of usage. This was the policy used at cognizant,

as seen in the case study above.

Lead by example: Indians generally respond well to

mentoring and entrepreneurial leaders. Hence, leading by

example and participating by blogging regularly or

commenting acts as a great motivator.

Leaders can act as change catalysts from a top-

down to bottom-up culture (Kouzes and Posner, 2002;

Ritchie and Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez,

et al., 2008; Chui, et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009).

Indians tend to respond well to paternalistic leaders (section 2.6)

Leaders who can participate and walk-the-talk in using KM

processes are also seen to build better learning organizations

(section 2.2).

Encourage participants: Identify early leaders and adopters

of new technology and leverage their reach to further

increase participation. For example, ‗blog memes‘ (The Daily

Meme, 2009) were used effectively to introduce new ideas

and spread awareness in Cognizant (Ranganath, 2009a).

Chui, et al., (2009) suggest a similar approach of

leveraging the early adopters for driving the self-sustaining

effort of Web 2.0 adoption and usage.

4.4.2 Web 2.0 based KM system - Implementation


Based on the theory and the above research, it is clear that

trust in the organization and trust within the superiors and the

colleagues is the bedrock on which knowledge sharing can occur

(see Web 2.0 best practices, section 2.5.8). Without building such a

framework of trust, knowledge management effort is bound to fail.

To build the trust, active participation of senior managers who

adopt Web 2.0 technologies is seen quite imperative. This

participation – both as active contributor (writing blogs) or as an

audience (providing feedback comments) helps build trust which

ensures better adoption (Kouzes and Posner, 2002; Ritchie and

Martin, 1999; Debowski, 2006; cited in Lopez, et al., 2008; Chui,

et al., 2009; Bughin, et al., 2009).

The next step is to build a culture of participation. KM

succeeds through the virtuous cycle of consumption encouraging

more content contribution (Ranganath, 2009a and section 4.3).

Without this self-sustaining loop, contributions will either have to

be forced or is seen as an effort apart from regular work.

Various avenues for contribution will have to be created.

Integrating the tool into an existing workflow would ensure

quicker adoption (Chiu, et al., 2009) Encouraging participation by

newsletters or senior management blog posts can also help

motivate employees towards better participation (see section 4.2.3).

Non-monetary rewards like ‗frequent-flier points‘ too could be

used to bring about a higher adoption (see case study).

The third step in the process is to pilot a tool and measure

the participation. Piloting will provide an idea of whether a

particular tool will ‗fit‘ the organization (Ranganath, 2009a). For

example, introducing blogs to a small organization may be

ineffective as the ‗long tail‘ phenomenon of engaging with micro-

audience does not exist (Anderson, 2005). However, collaboration

by using Wiki could provide much more value in such

organizations. As there is no one right solution, organizations

should pilot a tool and decide if it meets the organizational

strategy along with requisite interest and participation. Once it

meets these requirements, the tools can be rolled out to the

organization. Letting individual business units to pilot tools and

measure its adoption over time is also a good strategy before

rolling out to the organization (Ranganath, 2009a & Chiu, et al.,

2009). Any tool that shows a promise and aligns to the business

goals of an organization must be scaled up and deployed across

the organization.

Figure 35 Implementation strategy: Web 2.0 aided KM

Finally, any implementation or tool must expose an

interface for search (Suliman and Dursan, 2009). Interfacing with

search platform is necessary to ensure that the information

created on the new tool is also available to users via search

(Anderson, 2005 and Ranganath, 2009a).

In the existing literature on Knowledge Management and Web

2.0, the importance of a search technology has not been

highlighted. However, as demonstrated in the case study, real

organizations have multiple systems that act as repositories of

knowledge and unless they can be tied together they would exist

as silos and effectiveness of KM programs will reduce. Identifying

mechanism for implementing such an interface and defining the

taxonomy for such a search is an area for further research.

Figure 35 summarizes the points discussed as an

implementation framework that explains a KM implementation that

is aided by Web 2.0 concepts and tools. The first step is

building a organizational trust and a culture of participation. This

is followed by a pilot implementation of a tool that is monitored

against the organizational metric that a tool is supposed to aid.

Based on the outcome, a decision is made to go-ahead or to

stop the effort. If a pilot implementation measures to the

organizational goals, it is rolled out to the organization. Any

implementation is designed with an interface to search platform to

ensure that data generated is easily accessible.

For example, an organization may be planning to build a

better ‗know-who‘ culture. It could start with a pilot

implementation of blogs. This would play a dual role of first

increasing the participation (as shown in Case Study) as well as

building a culture open to sharing. An organizational benchmark

could be reduced ‗do you know who can help‘ type emails on

discussion forums and a subsequent metric could be turn-around

time for an issue-resolution within an IT organization. The pilot

could be in a team that is typically customer facing, for example,

the sales marketing and product teams. Based on success

obtained, the effort could be rolled out to the rest of



According to this research, Web 2.0 is seen as a complement

to Knowledge management (paragraph 1, p 116) as well as an

effective mechanism to increase user participation (p 120) and

interest in the knowledge management initiative . The trend

seems to point out that the adoption of Web 2.0 technology will

grow further (paragraph 1, p 163). Social networking and tagging

(paragraph 3, p 125) within the work context are two technologies

that would gain importance. Few other observations from the

research are:

Knowledge management is seen as an important aspect

(paragraph 2, p 112) for the success of an organization

(paragraph 2, p 19). However, an investment in enterprise

knowledge management is seen useful only in mid-sized to

larger organizations (more than 1000 employees)

Both employees (p 108) and management (paragraph 1, p

113) feel that knowledge sharing can be made better.

Suspicion and lack of motivation are two primary reasons

for employees to not share knowledge. Management

understands this problem and is also aware of the

underlying suspicion of employees towards KM. This can

be mitigated through clear communication (paragraph 3, p

124) and active participation (paragraph 3, p 120) of the

senior managers in various forums like blogs, emails and

‗unconferences‘ (paragraph 2, p120).

The challenge in encouraging experts (paragraph 3, p 113)

to contribute can be addressed by providing ownership

(paragraph 2, p 47) of communities in Web 2.0 forums.

Active participation (paragraph 1, p 132) by Senior

Managers and encouragement in the form of 'walking the

talk' is seen to motivate more employees. Indian national

culture (paragraph 2, p 69) too points towards mentoring

(paragraph 1, p 71) as a favored way of change


Capturing the ‗know-who‘ (paragraph 3, p 115) is found to

be quite important (paragraph 2, p 117) aspect that is not

easily possible in the KM tools. Web 2.0 technologies like

tagging (paragraph 3, p 50) and social networking

(paragraph 2, p 51) is found to cover (paragraph 3, p

125) this gap.

Web 2.0 is seen as an enabler (paragraph 2, pp 109-110)

in improving the contribution (paragraph 3, pp 127-128) by

users. Its inherent approach of openness helps in building

trust (paragraph 3, p 64) and collaboration (paragraph 1, p


However, Web 2.0 tools are seen as an aid

(paragraph 2, p 57) to the Knowledge Management

process. The field of Knowledge Management is considered

bigger (paragraph 1, p 126) than just Web 2.0. Thus, Web

2.0 is seen more a complement (paragraph 1, p 116) to

KM and not a replacement to it.

Technology is not seen as a challenge (paragraph 2, p

105) to introduction of Web 2.0 tools. This could be due

to the technical nature of business in most of the surveyed

organizations and a maturity in understanding (paragraph 3,

p 122) Web 2.0 concepts (paragraph 2, p 143).

Web 2.0 initiatives are sometimes run as pilots (paragraph

1, p 125) within small divisions within the organization.

These initiatives are then introduced to the organization

after a strategic decision (paragraph 2, p 129) making

process. Thus, Web 2.0 adoption is a combination of top-

down and bottom-up approach. The bottom-up adoption

and improvements possible during the pilot and post

implementation is used to further refine the systems.

However, the task of identifying (paragraph 1, p 133) a

tool that fits an organizational requirement is still strategic

and decided by the top management.

The research was not able to conclusively answer the

question on how employees learn the Web 2.0


On the whole, the research was able to answer almost all the

objectives. Web 2.0 is generally perceived as a positive

development both for fostering better collaboration and

participation. Web 2.0 is seen as aiding in Knowledge

Management from the perspective of Indian IT organizations.


The research was carried out for the scholarly purpose. The

limitations of this research were:

The sample size was limited due to the resources

available for analyzing the responses. A larger sample size

spread across more organizations would have been


Most of the participating organizations have been in

existence for 10 or more years and most of the

participants have 6 or more years of experience.

Perspective from a younger audience or a younger

organization could be different. This needs to be examined

since they are the generation more exposed to the Web

2.0 technologies. Patterns of sharing and collaboration may

differ with such an audience.

Organizations that were dissatisfied with Web 2.0 or

organizations not planning to use Web 2.0 were not

explored. Concerns and implementation difficulties in such

organizations could help identify pain points and issues that

have not been addressed in this research.

All the organizations examined were from the IT services

sector. Other organizations needs to be examined for a

holistic picture on Web 2.0 and KM adoption in India.

On hindsight, the questionnaire was too lengthy. Many

questions were too focused on organizational culture that

participants may not answer openly and was not even

necessary considering the scope of the dissertation.


The importance of search technology was not initially observed

by the author. However, during the research, it became apparent

that Web 2.0 and KM will tend to be a combination of multiple

tools. A scalable search platform is gaining in importance. The

importance of search technologies and its impact on Web 2.0

based KM is an area for further exploration. Search technologies

could also leverage the tagging functionality. Impact of such

tagging based KM is an area for future research.

India has been undergoing a rapid growth. The growth of

offshore-development centers and R&D facilities of many IT

companies have exposed Indian workforce to other work cultures.

Such employees may not be aligned to the traditional national

culture of India. An impact such a change and trends of culture

across less-developed and more-developed parts of India could

be undertaken.


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9.1 Semi-structured Interview Questionnaire

1. You have had extensive experience with Knowledge

Management. From your opinion, what were the pain points
with a KM strategy and implementation, if any?
2. What were the systems used for managing knowledge prior
to the introduction of Web 2.0?
3. In your opinion, do the Web 2.0 philosophy and technology
fit into the KM practice? Do they even mesh or are they
complete separate things?
4. Web 2.0 is supposed to be about ‗wisdom of crowds‘ and
tapping the ‗collective intelligence‘. Do you believe that KM
systems earlier did not fulfill this role?
5. How did Web 2.0 enter into your organization? Was it
introduced as a strategy in a top-down manner or was it
adopted in some units and then expanded to broader
6. Web 2.0 is generally considered to be a mixture of
following. Which do you think will play a role in KM
strategy in the near future (1-3 years):
a. Blogs
b. Wikis
c. RSS
d. Social Networking
e. Podcasts
f. Tagging / Social bookmarking
g. Shared workspaces
h. Web services
7. With respect to Indians and the Indian culture, do you see
anything specific that:
a. Helps in knowledge management?
b. Hampers in knowledge management?
8. For a small IT organization in India, investing in KM may
not appeal. In the typical cost/benefit analysis, short term
could win over the long term KM efforts.
a. How would you justify the RoI for a KM program?

b. Does Web 2.0 tools (being free) help in this analysis
in any way?
c. How would you define RoI for Web 2.0 programs?
9. What are the typical risks & challenges in using Web 2.0
at an organizational level? What according to you could
help in mitigating these risks?
10. What do you feel should be the focus of top management
while introducing Web 2.0 as a knowledge sharing system?
11. Cognizant 2.0 and ChannelOne – please can you tell the
story of how they were planned and introduced?
12. The challenges with these systems – especially moving
towards an open system where people could write
potentially write anything.

9.2 Questionnaire with summarized responses

Attached is the questionnaire survey and responses. The extract

below is the aggregated response, which may consist of partially

completed surveys.