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Leadership and Policy in Schools

ISSN: 1570-0763 (Print) 1744-5043 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/nlps20

Rethinking Knowledge Management: Strategies for


Enhancing District-Level Teacher and Leader Tacit
Knowledge Sharing

Karen Edge

To cite this article: Karen Edge (2013) Rethinking Knowledge Management: Strategies for
Enhancing District-Level Teacher and Leader Tacit Knowledge Sharing, Leadership and Policy in
Schools, 12:3, 227-255, DOI: 10.1080/15700763.2013.826810

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2013.826810

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Leadership and Policy in Schools, 12:227–255, 2013
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1570-0763 print/1744-5043 online
DOI: 10.1080/15700763.2013.826810

Rethinking Knowledge Management: Strategies


for Enhancing District-Level Teacher
and Leader Tacit Knowledge Sharing

KAREN EDGE
University of London, London, United Kingdom

Grounded within knowledge management (KM) theory and con-


ceptions of tacit and explicit knowledge, this article draws on
historical evidence from the Early Years Literacy Project (EYLP),
a four-year instructional renewal strategy implemented across
100 schools in a large Canadian school district. The EYLP man-
agement approach included a series of interconnected crosscut-
ting committees supporting powerful knowledge-sharing oppor-
tunities. The factors influencing tacit knowledge sharing and
the unanticipated consequences for program implementation are
explored. Finally, the implications of the findings for research
and practice related to tacit and explicit knowledge and KM are
discussed, along with recommendations for future research and
practice.

Knowledge management (KM) theory and practice is concerned with


creating structural and organizational conditions that nurture employee
knowledge sharing and catalyze innovation (Brown & Duguid, 2000; Von
Krogh, Ichijo, & Nonaka, 2000). KM research often explores how knowledge
is generated, codified, and stored within organizational memory and/or how
facilitating access to these resources may enhance organizational members’
own learning and practice.
The field of KM developed in earnest since the mid-1990s, inspired by
interest in individual and collective knowledge as a competitive corporate
asset (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2009). In 1995, Nonaka and Takeuchi developed

The author would like to thank colleagues within the EYLP and TDSB for their support
during the initial research and Louise Stoll and Janet Chrispeels for their helpful comments on
earlier drafts of the article.
Address correspondence to Karen Edge, Institute of Education, University of London,
20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL, UK. E-mail: k.edge@ioe.ac.uk

227
228 Karen Edge

one of the most longstanding and influential KM conceptualizations pred-


icated upon a continuum of two types of knowledge—tacit and explicit.
Within KM, tacit knowledge is often defined as personal knowledge that is
often difficult to share and communicate, and that which is developed dur-
ing the course of practice and experience (Nonaka, 1991; Polanyi, 1967).
Explicit knowledge describes formal iterations or representations of tacit
knowledge often found within organizational regulations, documents, and
reports (Choo, 1998). Organizations successfully mobilizing knowledge and
innovating repeatedly often engage in four deliberate and sequential steps
supporting an iterative process of individual and collective learning and
innovation (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). This process, known as knowledge
conversion, describes how organizations create knowledge through a spi-
ral involving socialization (tacit to tacit), externalization (tacit to explicit),
internalization (explicit to explicit) and combination (explicit to tacit).
Since the mid-1990s, the distinctive ebbs and flows in KM research have
been marked by a large body of work strongly influenced by classic KM
theories (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Von Krogh et al., 2000), juxtaposed with
fads and fashions of more specialist KM research driven by shifts in profes-
sional KM interests and practice (Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2011). A recurring
theme within the KM literature has been knowledge sharing within commu-
nities of professionals (Elliott, Stemler, Grigorenko, Sternberg, & Hoffman,
2011; Zboralski, 2009). The field has also been underpinned by a healthy,
if sometimes muted, debate about the nature of tacit knowledge and the
iterative nature of the conversion process (Cook & Brown, 1999; Riberio &
Collins, 2007).
While public-sector KM research and practice often remain more elusive,
pockets of public-sector KM research, albeit often dated, have acknowledged
the potential benefits of attending to knowledge-related processes related
to: improving organizational performance (Ardichvili, Page, & Wentling,
2003; McAdam & Reid, 2001; Murray, 2001); enhancing fiscal responsi-
bility (McAdam & Reid, 2001); and decreasing interagency fragmentation
(Ardichvili et al., 2003). Historically, while educational institutions are rela-
tively knowledge-intense organizations, KM has rarely emerged as a strategy
for enhancing educational knowledge sharing and improving educational
outcomes (Awang, Ismail, Flett, & Curry, 2011; Edge, 2005a; Fullan, 2001;
Petrides & Guiney, 2002) and school-based knowledge sharing and usage
(Awang et al., 2011; Hamid, 2008); and leader knowledge (Salloum, 1996).
With only one recent study focusing specifically on districts and KM (Hannay,
Ben Jaafar, & Earl, 2013), the remainder of educationally focused knowl-
edge research explores themes including: mobilization (Cooper, Levin, &
Campbell, 2009; Levin, 2010, 2011); teacher tacit knowledge (Eraut, 2000;
Sternberg et al., 2000); organization of educational knowledge (Karmon,
2007); and school leader knowledge (Salloum, 1996).
Schools have historically been, and often remain, isolated from
neighboring schools. Similarly, teachers are often professionally isolated
Rethinking Knowledge Management 229

from their colleagues (Fullan, 2001). To bridge these gaps, much policy
and program attention has increasingly centered on creating strategies for
within- and across-school professional collaboration (Coburn & Russell,
2008), including in professional learning communities (Bryk, Camburn, &
Louis, 1999; Stoll & Louis, 2007) and networking between schools (Katz, Earl,
& Ben Jaafar, 2009). While important, these initiatives often lack the strategic
elements associated with KM that focus on establishing infrastructures and
systems for promoting the sharing and categorization of knowledge that are
the core tenets of KM.

THE AIMS, STRUCTURE, AND RATIONALE FOR THIS ARTICLE

This article draws on evidence from a previous larger study of the Early Years
Literacy Project (EYLP), a four-year instructional renewal strategy imple-
mented across 100 schools in a large Canadian school district (Edge, 2005a).
The EYLP targeted early literacy-focused teaching and learning improve-
ments via five key strategic project-level priorities: design and management
structure; leadership development; instructional improvement; resources
management; and evaluation and feedback. While the EYLP did not specif-
ically name or adopt KM as its theoretical underpinning, earlier research
identified a strong positive influence of what appeared to be strategically
designed district-level tacit-to-tacit sharing opportunities at play within the
EYLP.
The aims of this article are threefold, including: illustrating an exam-
ple of district-level education-based KM supporting the strategic sharing of
teacher and leader tacit knowledge; highlighting the structural and design
factors perceived to enhance and influence the value of KM for teachers
and leaders; and extending thinking about KM by positing how, based on
EYLP evidence, KM may support the overall design, implementation, and
commitment to change processes.
The article begins by defining tacit and explicit knowledge and illus-
trating key KM models informing this research. In turn, the district and its
early years initiative are detailed, with specific focus on the design and
management strand of the EYLP. Participants specifically and consistently
highlighted the value of the overall nested committee structure component
of the design and management strategy. Referred to here as the knowledge
infrastructure (KI), the article concentrates its gaze on this highly influential
committee as a structural support for district-level tacit-to-tacit knowledge
sharing. To enrich the discussion, the article details the factors, identified
by participants, as key to the overall intended and unintended influence of
the KI as a knowledge-sharing strategy. Finally, the discussions and conclu-
sions highlight implications of the findings for research and practice related
to tacit and explicit knowledge and knowledge management, along with
recommendations for future KM and district-level research and practice.
230 Karen Edge

The district-level data informing this article provides one of the few
data sets exploring district-level KM. The findings and implications of this
district-level study remain timely, due to the persistence of academic and
policy interest in the role of districts as central actors in student achieve-
ment (Leithwood, 2010; Louis, Leithwood, Wahlstrom, & Anderson, 2010),
school improvement and support (Johnson & Chrispeels, 2010), leader-
ship development and retention (Mascall & Leithwood, 2010), teacher
development (Firestone & Martinez, 2007), parental/community engagement
(Epstein, Galindo & Sheldon, 2011), and scaling up innovation and instruc-
tional improvement (Honig, 2008, 2012). As district organizational structures
influence how district-level professionals search for and interpret evidence
(Coburn, Honig, & Stein, 2009), the importance of continuing to explore the
role of district-level KM remains.
Second, a new wave of academic interest in the role of social networks
has been reinvigorated as scholars apply social network theory perspectives
(Coburn & Russell, 2008; Daly, 2012; Daly & Finnigan, 2010) to disentangle
the role of professional connectedness within teacher and leader communi-
ties and the influence of the strength and nature of those relationships on
educational change and reform efforts. Third, a growing body of knowledge
mobilization work (Cooper et al., 2009; Levin, 2011) has regenerated interest
in mechanisms for capturing and sharing research and practitioner knowl-
edge to improve policy and practice. While these, and related, studies make
important contributions, there remains a gap in the evidence base related to
district-level systematic and infrastructural strategies that support the condi-
tions required for consistent and functional knowledge sharing, mobilization,
and management. As few studies explore the role of district-wide strategic
KM as a potential vehicle for improvement, this article focuses on illumi-
nating strategies and outcomes of a district-level, tacit, knowledge-sharing
focused initiative.

THE CONCEPTUAL LANDSCAPE: A FRAMEWORK FOR EXPLORING


TACIT AND EXPLICIT KNOWLEDGE
Tacit Knowledge
Individuals develop tacit knowledge of their particular craft or tasks over
time and with experience (Polanyi, 1966). Nonaka (1991) provides a com-
prehensive and enduring definition of tacit knowledge as a highly personal
form of knowing that is:

hard to formalize and, therefore, difficult to communicate to others.


Tacit knowledge is also deeply rooted in action and in an individual’s
commitment to a specific context—a craft or profession, a particular tech-
nology or product market, or the activities of a work group or team.
Tacit knowledge consists partly of technical skills—the kind of informal,
hard-to-pin-down skills captured in the term “know-how.” (p. 98)
Rethinking Knowledge Management 231

Tacit knowledge exists in two forms (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995): cogni-
tive and technical. While the cognitive (mental models, perspectives, beliefs,
schemata) assists individuals in understanding their world and refer to con-
ceptions of “what is and what ought to be” (p. 60), the technical aspects
of tacit knowledge (know-how, crafts, skills) assist individuals in completing
their day-to-day duties and tasks.
As Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) established a theoretical and research
KM milestone within the business community, within the education commu-
nity Shulman’s (1986) theoretical conception of teacher content and peda-
gogical and curricular knowledge inspired a shift and catalyzed branches
of scholarship that deepened collective wisdom related to teacher tacit
knowledge, including general and discipline-specific teacher knowledge
(e.g. Elliott et al., 2011) and methodological tools to explore and assess
tacit knowledge (Grigorenko, Sternberg, & Strauss, 2006; H. Hill, Ball, and
Schilling, 2008). For example, Connelly and Clandinin (1994) promote the
importance of teacher knowledge and the use of narrative to share tacit
knowledge between teachers. Sternberg and Horvath (1995) also contribute
to discussions of tacit knowledge within and beyond education, noting
that tacit knowledge “is that knowledge one needs to succeed that is not
explicitly taught, and that often is not even verbalised” and is valuable in
“selecting, adapting to, and shaping one’s environment” (p. 12). However,
while this research established a teacher-focused tacit-knowledge evidence
base, a gap in the wider educational knowledge base remains in relation
to the district- and school-level strategic support and attention to mobilizing
tacit-knowledge resources.
One area of resaerch providing a helpful educationally focused lens
through which to explore the implications of tacit knowledge expands the
notion of individual and shared mental models. More specifically, Chrispeels,
Burke, Johnson, and Daly (2008) highlight the imperative for leaders to
develop shared understanding and language in order to effectively lead edu-
cational innovation across participating district- and school-level roles. More
specifically, Chrispeels et al. highlight the role of opportunities to dialogue
and collaborate—essentially rooted in the sharing of tacit knoweldge—as
powerful levers for supporting educational improvement.

Explicit Knowledge
At the opposite end of the tacit–explicit continuum, explicit knowledge is
formal, tangible, and more easily shared between organization members.
However, it “does not appear spontaneously, but must be nurtured and
cultivated from the seeds of tacit knowledge” (Choo, 1998, p. 8). Fullan
(2001) distinguishes “explicit knowledge (words and numbers that can be
communicated in the form of data and information) and tacit knowledge
(skills, beliefs, and understanding that are below the level of awareness”
(p. 80). Similarly, within education, explicit knowledge may be located in
232 Karen Edge

formal public documents (Eraut, 2000), including curriculum documents, stu-


dent achievement standards, formal documents, newsletters, and teacher and
administrator experience-based resources.

Knowledge Management Models


Nonaka and Takeuchi (2009) reiterate that “tacit and explicit knowledge can
be conceptually distinguished along continuum, and knowledge conversion
explains the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge” (p. 636).
While Nonaka and Takeuchi’s (1995) aforementioned KM model guided
this research, Hansen, Nohria, and Tierney’s (1999) simplified KM model
provides a good organizer for understanding the practice and process of
KM. Hansen et al. (1999) concur and argue that developing personalization
strategies that involve direct person-to-person communication of knowledge
are extremely important. These strategies, while supported by technology,
rely only on computers as communication tools and not mechanisms for
codifying and storing knowledge. In personalization scenarios, knowledge
is “transferred through brain-storming sessions and one-on-one conversa-
tions” in which participants “arrive at deeper insights by going back and
forth on problems they need to solve” (p. 108). They advocate that organi-
zations create opportunities for face-to-face knowledge exchange, referred
to as personalization, and can also include networks of individuals shar-
ing knowledge via email, phone, and videoconference. This is also aptly
described by Paavola, Lipponen, and Hakkarainen (2004) as socialization that
engages group-level knowledge sharing with the aim of creating “common
understanding and trust within the group” (p. 559).
Codification, or formalization of tacit knowledge into explicit and acces-
sible resources, is the second essential component of successful KM (Hansen
et al., 1999), involving the categorizing, sorting, and storing of knowledge
chunks, in most cases within computer-mediated database systems that are
accessible to organization members. Often, person-to-document processes
are used for codification in which knowledge, rather crudely, “is extracted
from the person who developed it, made independent of that person, and
reused for various purposes” (p. 108). The authors suggest that the increased
availability of “networked computers has made it possible to codify, store,
and share certain kinds of knowledge more easily and cheaply than ever
before” (p. 106). They continue, “As long as knowledge remains personal to
individual members so that it cannot be shared easily, organizations cannot
multiply the value of this expertise” (p. 105).
Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) describe the tacit-to-explicit conversion
process as externalization that engages organizational members in creat-
ing explicit and tangible representations of their experiential and personal
knowledge. Nonaka and Takeuchi’s model (Table 1) has been slightly
Rethinking Knowledge Management 233

TABLE 1 Knowledge Conversion Model (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2005).

Tacit Explicit

→ ↓
Tacit Socialization (Hansen et al. refer to Externalization (Hansen et al. refer to
this as personalization) this as codification)
↑ ←
Explicit Internalization Combination

amended to reflect personalization and codification (Hansen et al., 1999)


as proxies for socialization and externalization.

THE DISTRICT, THE PROJECT, AND THE DESIGN AND


MANAGEMENT INFRASTRUCTURE
The District
When this research was undertaken, the Toronto District School Board
(TDSB), located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was the fourth-largest school
district in North America, with over 200,000 students in its 451 elementary
schools, of whom 41% spoke English as their second or third language.

The EYLP
Between 1999 and 2004, the EYLP targeted kindergarten to grade three class-
rooms in more than 100 schools to accelerate literacy teaching and learning.
School- and classroom-level EYLP strategies were heavily based on prior
reforms in the UK (DfEE, 1997, 1998) and Australia (P. Hill & Crevola, 1999).
Building on a now-popularized literacy intervention model, EYLP schools:
appointed a half-time in-school literacy coordinator (LC) to exclusively sup-
port teacher literacy-focused development; adopted two-hour, early morning
literacy blocks; and implemented very specific instructional approaches.
At the district level, EYLP design and management strategies included:
(1) three nested committees forming a comprehensive networked manage-
ment structure of a management team, a steering committee, and 10 steering
subcommittees; and (2) a strategic professional development (PD) strategy
for teachers and leaders addressing literacy, leadership, and educational
change.

EYLP Management Team and Committee Structure: The Knowledge


Infrastructure
Building on P. Hill and Crevola (1999), district and EYLP leaders initially
established an interrelated network of committees to serve as a mechanism
234 Karen Edge

for overall program design, decision making, and implementation. This EYLP
management infrastructure engaged a wide range of practitioners in a three-
tier nested committee structure including the management team, a steering
committee, and 10 sub-steering committees. The management team—the
penultimate decision-making and management body—comprised represen-
tatives with high-level responsibility for related district-wide initiatives build
synergies and coherence between the project and district-wide priorities.
The middle tier of the infrastructure—the steering committee—reported
to the management team and comprised the 10 chairs of the EYLP subcom-
mittees to liaise between their respective subcommittees and the steering
committee. The final tier was comprised of 10 unique steering subcom-
mittees that were established to provide opportunities for school- and
district-level professionals to inform and develop EYLP work. Chaired by
active EYLP school principals, subcommittees worked on the following top-
ics: communication; conference planning; kindergarten planning; literacy
coordinator planning; partnerships; principal; Reading RecoveryTM ; liaison;
and standards/research. Steering subcommittee membership consisted of
teachers, principals, and district-level staff members. Both committee struc-
tures were vested with substantial decision-making and information-sharing
powers.

EYLP Literacy Coordinators (LCs)


EYLP school-based LCs worked half time in their own classrooms and half
time as the designated school-wide literacy expert providing peer coaching,
modeling, and instructional support. LC selection was based on early lit-
eracy expertise and leadership ability. LCs received extensive PD related to
nurturing school-based literacy expertise, leadership, and coaching, and sup-
ported tacit-to-tacit knowledge sharing by identifying and mobilizing literacy
expertise across, and at times between, their schools.

EYLP Cross-School Professional Development


Via the subcommittees, the EYLP supported various levels of PD and net-
works to connect teachers, LCs, and school principals. As with the overall
knowledge infrastructure, attention was paid to ensuring a breadth and depth
of contributions from professionals across the district, including both LC-
specific and paired LC-principal PD session. Each summer, LCs, principals,
and school-level colleagues participated in a district-wide, weeklong liter-
acy development institute with external and internal expert input. Echoing
traditional KM-inspired, face-to-face personalization, EYLP-enabled oppor-
tunities for building relationships and sharing information created integral
opportunities for harnessing general- and project-related tacit knowledge.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 235

RESEARCH METHODS

The overall study explored EYLP “observations and operations” (Stake, 1995,
p. 242) as an example of district-level design to improve literacy instruction.
The analysis focused on creating a holistic view of the EYLP as well as under-
standing subsections and categories (Stake, 1995) or subcases (Huberman &
Miles, 1994; Yin, 1984) of district- and school-level KM-related processes and
products (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) with each of the five main stands of
EYLP work.
Throughout interview and documentary data analysis, five tacit-to-tacit
processes were consistently identified by participants as facilitating the intro-
duction and ongoing implementation of the EYLP. These included: literacy
coordinator networks, LC and principal PD sessions, and the work and orga-
nization of the three committees supporting EYLP initiation and management
of the EYLP. There were only several examples of tacit-to-explicit conversion,
or codification, which appeared to be rather serendipitous and spontaneous,
inspired by the social connections established between members of the three
committees. Little evidence emerged related to explicit-explicit or explicit-
tacit conversion. As previously stated, this article exclusively focuses on
examples of tacit-to-tacit or personalization evidence derived from the EYLP
design and management strand, with only a light touch discussion of the
several examples of tacit-explicit conversion.

Sample Selection, Interview, and Analysis Process


INTERVIEWS
Sixty-minute semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with
34 LCs, principals, and district-level professionals, in 2004, during the final
year of the four-year EYLP implementation.
Interviews explored the five key strands of EYLP work (as outlined
above), with specific prompts to explore EYLP learning and experience
within each stand related to both face-to-face tacit knowledge sharing and
explicit knowledge resource development opportunities. To reflect different
viewpoints and experiences, the final sample also included participants who
had not been actively involved in the EYLP implementation. All invited par-
ticipants accepted the invitation to engage in an interview, all interviews
were recorded, and written notes were transcribed.

SAMPLE SELECTION
The research engaged EYLP participants from three cohorts of professionals:
the district, EYLP committee structure, and EYLP schools (Huberman & Miles,
1994). The lead EYLP superintendent provided demographic data for each
236 Karen Edge

potential cohort of participants stratified by years of EYLP and/or leadership


experience, role, EYLP role, and committee engagement (if any). At the
district level, five superintendents with three or more years of experience,
leadership responsibility for two or more EYLP schools, and representing
various levels of EYLP leadership engagement were randomly selected. All
seven EYLP management team members were invited to participate and,
where changes in personnel had occurred, both new and former members
were interviewed. At the committee level, 10 steering committee members
from across all 10 committees, with two+ years of SC service and a range of
district and school roles, were invited. At the school level, a random selec-
tion of five schools, where both principals and LCs who had served two+
years in the EYLP at the same school, were invited to participate. Efforts
were made to ensure that selected schools represented a different family of
school/locations across the city. All invited participants agreed to participate.

INTERVIEW DATA ANALYSIS


A step-wise processing of interview data analysis (Huberman & Miles, 1994)
was employed and each interview transcript was individually analyzed and
chunks of data were identified, retrieved, and placed within a computer-
based analysis matrix (Huberman & Miles, 1994). In turn, the following steps
were taken: (1) organizing individual interview data in analysis matrices for
each of the district, program, and school levels; (2) organizing and sorting
the matrices to find common themes or ideas; (3) clustering quotations and
comments from the notes and the tapes in support of each of the identified
themes; and (4) conducting a cross-group analysis by combining matrices
from the district, EYLP, and school levels to examine patterns of percep-
tions and understandings of tacit and explicit conversion processes. Upon
data-entry completion for each cohort of participants, the first organiza-
tional column of the matrix was reexamined and manipulated to organize
common themes, topics, or ideas expressed by participants within their
interviews and additional columns were added to reflect subcategorization
(Bogdan & Bilken, 1992; Merriam, 1998). Frequently and rarely highlighted
themes, including those in contradiction to general trends, were explored.
In turn, data from across each cohort was examined and compared for any
similarities, differences, and patterns.
While the limitations of the study include the relatively small sample size
and the solely qualitative approach, the preliminary nature of the research
and the paucity of KM research in education justifies the reconsideration of
the data presented herein. Another limitation was the overwhelming pos-
itivity about the initiative expressed by participants; however, within the
presentation of the findings the infrequent mention of challenging or nega-
tive perceptions are highlighted. Finally, the lag time between data collection
and the publication of the knowledge infrastructure evidence presented here
Rethinking Knowledge Management 237

may be considered a limitation. However, the continued gaps in the research


related to knowledge management in districts supports its inclusion in the
ongoing debate. Second, as the study was designed to be a snapshot in
time, the merit of the evidence is not minimized by a delayed reconsid-
eration. As within most jurisdictions, districts have experienced a host of
both provincially and locally initiated reforms, creating an interim narrative
would not add to the validity of the evidence presented here. However, the
evidence does highlight the importance and potential for returning to the
district to examine the possible legacy of the reform initiative within the
district.

KNOWLEDGE INFRASTRUCTURE
Structural Support for Tacit Knowledge Sharing
While the wider KM literature often focuses on implementing and managing
KM systems (Davenport, De Long, & Beers, 1998) and the organizational ben-
efits of successful KM (Kreiner, 2002; Smith, 2001; Weick & Roberts, 1996),
a gap remains within the educational KM literature related to district-level
strategic mobilization of tacit and explicit knowledge within and between
schools.
EYLP interview participants identified three key personalization strate-
gies that provide meaningful tacit-to-tacit conversion opportunities (Table 2).
The first two strategies have been explored in previous publications includ-
ing: (1) informal LC between school networks (Edge & Mylopoulous, 2009);
and (2) LC roles as within- and between-school tacit-knowledge conversion
activists (Edge, 2005b). This article identifies and explores the third personal-
ization strategy identified by the EYLP participants as strongly influencing the
success of the EYLP project: the knowledge infrastructure (KI). Due to per-
sonal circumstance, the data remained unpublished in the period between
the study and a recent review of the KM and education literature. As cited
earlier within the article, gaps remain within the research related to district-
level KM and KM and education. To contribute to this important discussion,
this article examines the KI comprised of the management team steering,

TABLE 2 Identified EYLP Tacit and Explicit Knowledge Strategies.

Tacit (Personalization Explicit (Codification


Strategies) Strategies)

Tacit knowledge 1. LC informal networks LC video


(e.g., how-to/skill) 2. LC professional
development sessions
Tacit knowledge 3. District-level EYLP LC essential learning
(e.g., mental models) committee membership document
238 Karen Edge

and sub-steering committees as strategic tools to fostering the conditions to


make the most of their professional knowledge resources.
Within the KI, based on participant interviews, the ten sub-steering com-
mittees emerged as the most influential of the three committees, due to their
close ties to school-level professionals and the largest membership num-
bers. Building on the interview evidence and the earlier introduction to the
KI, this section focuses on two elements: (1) the overall KI design, goals,
and factors perceived by participants to be enhancing the influence of the
KI as a strategy for tacit knowledge sharing; and (2) the unintended out-
comes of the KI specifically relating to structurally enhanced personalization.
Each section highlights emerging strategies and participant quotes provide
additional evidence and detail.

Strategic Design for Knowledge Sharing


In the wider discussions of educational change, districts often play a central
role in creating coherence, scaling up innovation, and fostering school-
to-school collaboration (Chrispeels et al., 2008; Honig, 2008, 2012). The
evidence from the EYLP suggests the potential for KM-related strategies
to support district leaders in this work. For example, the EYLP KI actively
engaged practitioners from different areas and levels of responsibility from
across the district. Participants attribute the KI influence to the design and
ongoing commitment of the committee leaders and members to: openly
recruit and engage practitioners in decision making; create a knowledge
bank and mobilize internal knowledge; facilitate interrelated committee
work; and facilitate interrelated committee work and district-wide synergy.

OPENLY RECRUIT AND ENGAGE PRACTITIONERS IN DECISION MAKING


Committee members unilaterally attributed the influence of the committee
structure to the open and transparent membership approach that encouraged
widespread participation. All participants highlighted how opportunities to
connect and learn from a wide range of professionals beyond their tradi-
tional roles provides important, and often difficult to find, opportunities for
school-level staff to gain district-level structural and political experience and
knowledge. Participants viewed district-level opportunities as strategically
important for career progression as they enhance their personal leader-
ship development via their membership on various subcommittees. As one
management team member explained:

(The subcommittee) membership is opened up every year. Principals and


literacy coordinators can sign up to belong to a various subcommittees.
We haven’t had to turn anyone away to date. In the cases where there
were a few more people signing up we said “what the heck.” We have
been able to honor and recognize those people who wanted to step a
little bit out of their school and participate at a management level.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 239

Participants, from all KI levels, also reported that active committee


engagement creates professionally enriching experiences enabling the devel-
opment of a range of new perspectives and skills including understanding
the EYLP and the district participating in decision making, and develop-
ing relationships with district-wide leaders. All but one interview participant
felt that consistent efforts were made to ensure that voices, learning, and
perspectives from all members were equally recognized within the decision-
making process. One steering committee member echoes others’ comments
related to the overall value of the committee structure, stating:

Having principals and teachers involved in the steering committee has


kept it honest. It keeps bringing (the project) back to what is really
happening at the grassroots level. It is pretty easy sometimes, in some
boards, for someone who is (working exclusively in the district) to be
making all the decisions and setting the timelines without any real or a
total appreciation for what is going on in the schools.

CREATE A KNOWLEDGE BANK/NETWORK AND MOBILIZE INTERNAL EXPERTISE


Almost all participants reported that the KI supported the development of a
knowledge bank of ideas/resources within and beyond the EYLP and other
district-level work. Participants described how the KI established, often new,
networks of professional colleagues that supported their school-based work
and professional learning, as one steering committee member explained:

We (committee members) are working on different things—not just with


the steering committees. Opportunities to exchange information in other
ways means it is possible for us to share best practices and get great ideas
from other people about what is going on and to allow other people to
find out about the things that we are doing well and hopefully raise the
level of effectiveness across the system.

In the final year of EYLP implementation, delayed provision of EYLP


funding, new project leadership, and district- and EYLP-level challenges
resulted in the inability to hire external PD experts. According to partici-
pants, these events necessitated a shift in collective perception of “whose
knowledge counts” and “how knowledge was shared,” prompting the LC
subcommittee to initiate a dramatic change in the EYLP PD strategy. To mobi-
lize LC knowledge, a sophisticated personalization strategy acknowledged
internal EYLP knowledge and expertise, and created new project-wide
knowledge-sharing strategies. All LCs were asked to share their particular
areas of expertise and a formal, accessible project-wide expertise catalogue
was established. One management team member described the process and
challenge of identifying internal knowledge:
240 Karen Edge

For the big sessions, they (the facilitators) are always saying . . . if you
are interested in performing, producing and sharing. Maybe its part of
our problem because we aren’t jumping up and saying that we will do
it! It seems like this year it is the same people who produce. They have
asked that if you have an area of expertise please share it.

The shift meant LCs gained recognition as between-school experts with


district-wide literacy development responsibilities and this formal knowledge
bank became a valuable starting point for ongoing knowledge sharing in
support of the project and beyond. As a result, all experienced LCs were
recruited to lead school- and district-level PD sessions.
While external knowledge was initially highly valued, required, and con-
sulted during the development and implementation of the EYLP, the interest
in and commitment to mobilizing internal EYLP knowledge, through person-
alization processes, in support of ongoing early implementation of the EYLP
was established by necessity. This strategy shifted the locus of expert liter-
acy knowledge from outside to within the district. One committee member
commented on how this change mobilized and fused tacit knowledge with
previously presented theoretical knowledge, stating:

Because we are looking within ourselves, there are opportunities for LCs
to present and it’s not just the theory but how they have done it in
their schools. People can ask about specific situations. There is a good
balance.

This evidence demonstrates the potential individual benefits of KM that


are often ignored or overshadowed by more top-down KM approaches.
In turn, it does not fully capture the possibility for KM-related strategies
within education organizations for individual-, collective-, and organization-
wide innovation, celebration, and improvement.

FACILITATE INTERRELATED COMMITTEE WORK AND DISTRICT-WIDE SYNERGY


The KI also set out to foster alignment and synergy between the various com-
mittees, the EYLP, and the overall district. To ensure the EYLP was aligned
with other district-level initiatives, all levels of the committee membership
were recruited so as to represent all vertical units of district-level exper-
tise and responsibility. Where appropriate and necessary, individuals with
decision-making authority over tangential district-wide initiatives served on
EYLP committees to ensure synergies between the EYLP and other projects.
According to participants, this also streamlined information for school-
level leaders and teachers and built an EYLP project infrastructure that, for
the most part, appears to have nurtured productive, sharing relationships and
networks between individuals who previously rarely had a chance to work
Rethinking Knowledge Management 241

together. While many participants were initially skeptical about the rather
burdensome appearance of such an integrated and layered approach to
project management, as will be discussed, the KI served to catalyze engage-
ment and learning for district-wide professionals. One participant explained
how the committees are “structured so there is coherence and depth. There
is planning and many many levels to build knowledge.” One member also
shared their own “perfect example” of subcommittee collaboration:

The principal committee wanted to have some in-services. The research


committee got in touch with them and suggested that data management in
schools is something that principals want some help [with]. Both commit-
tees worked together to give in-services. The research committee has also
been working with the LCs. In essence, three subcommittees were com-
bined to get this going: the LC, the principal, and the research (steering
committee member).

According to participants, the committee infrastructure systematically


brought people together to create opportunities for tacit-to-tacit knowledge
sharing, create synergies across district-wide initiatives, and build on the
school-level classroom and leadership knowledge and expertise.

Unanticipated Individual and Collective Influences


An interesting set of unintended and unanticipated KI outcomes, emerging
from the evidence, extended beyond the original EYLP goals. Predicated on
committee-level prioritization of knowledge sharing, relationship building,
and solution spotting, several extensions of current and historical con-
ceptions of KM theory and practice also emerge including: (1) enhancing
commitment to reform initiatives; (2) initiating spontaneous tacit-to-explicit
knowledge conversion; and (3) validating employee knowledge and accom-
plishment.

ENHANCING KNOWLEDGE OF, AND COMMITMENT TO , THE EYLP


Committee members universally reported that the KI increased the number of
educators who could clearly articulate the EYLP vision, goals, and intended
outcomes. In the case of the EYLP, participants reported that KI participation,
in turn, improved their ability to communicate effectively about the EYLP and
enhanced their commitment and ability to implement the EYLP. As one LC
explained:

It gives me a nicer picture of the umbrella over the whole organization


and where it is going. It keeps me in tune a little more and gives me
greater depth. It gives me a feeling of where the project is going, more
ahead of time, so that I can talk with our LC and steer her in the right
direction.
242 Karen Edge

Similarly, one principal described the knowledge-commitment link,


indicating that “in order to have the commitment you have to have
the knowledge.” A district-level leader acknowledged how principal KI
participation generated an overall level of EYLP commitment, explaining:

You need to have the buy-in and the engagement of the principal. Having
principals there ensures that they will engage other principals. Principals
talking to principals is different and that piece about how to manage (a
reform initiative) is essential.

INITIATING SPONTANEOUS TACIT-TO-EXPLICIT KNOWLEDGE CONVERSION


(CODIFICATION)
The KI established a set of interrelated social systems through which mem-
bers discussed, tested, and established project-level goals that unintentionally
catalyzed the development of teacher- and leader-initiated explicit resources.
Throughout the interviews, several examples of orchestrated tacit-to-explicit
knowledge codification emerged, including the EYLP newsletter, the LC’s
video, and the principal’s handbook (Edge, 2005b). Each document/resource
is an example of tacit-to-explicit knowledge conversion that shares a locus
of origin from serendipitous professional discussions and relationships
developed within the KI.
For example, the communications committee initiated the EYLP newslet-
ter, an electronic and paper-based vehicle for sharing EYLP information
and success. Each themed issue was inspired by school-level needs, and
committee members report drawing on their personal expertise and connec-
tions to build on the knowledge of “experts” both externally and internally
within the EYLP and TDSB. Newsletters served as an ongoing source for
sharing innovative practice and created an EYLP legacy. However, this
example of explicit knowledge conversion was predicated on committee
members’ personal knowledge of EYLP activities and individual LC, prin-
cipal, teacher, and school expertise. Two participants noted the potential
challenge associated with knowledge generated exclusively by a small group
of EYLP participants that may not reflect the wider range of EYLP voices or
expertise.

VALIDATING EMPLOYEE KNOWLEDGE AND ACCOMPLISHMENT


Teachers serving as LCs highlighted another, less prominent, unintended out-
come for attending to KM in organizations: KM for recognition and validation
of employee work. Opportunities to share personal knowledge with col-
leagues and work toward a common goal often validated their efforts and
knowledge and provided ongoing inspiration to try new things.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 243

Just being on the committee, I love doing that because I find that I learn
a lot more too. So, I gain knowledge and that is more of a personal thing
but I find that it brings it back to the school too. We got to write an
article on the (our) book room and so I got to showcase our LC and that
is validating for her too!

Within and between schools, LCs had EYLP-facilitated opportunities to


observe teaching, share ideas, discuss possibilities, reflect on experience,
and address challenges. For most, these experiences provided very personal
access to information that they could take back to their own schools and
try within their own practice. Almost all interview participants suggested
that committee membership provided valuable sources of validation of their
knowledge and practice. Participants reported greater willingness to try new
things inspired by others’ experience, stating:

The committee work gave me a broad perspective of what was happen-


ing across the district and what the district concerns and directions were
that I wouldn’t necessarily have had working just in my own school.
It gave my work a sense of urgency. It was something that was seen as
something essential. I don’t think all LCs have had the same experience.
I belong to a Family of Schools LC group and they are very very ded-
icated to the EYLP but they almost have a small worldview of what is
happening in their own school and nothing further than that.

Many LC committee participants echo this message: LCs who do not


participate on committees appear to have a more limited scope of EYLP
and district-level understanding, indicating perhaps that, not surprisingly,
participant learning and understanding is influenced by their direct access to
the knowledge and experience of committee members.

Challenges and Opportunities


Based on interviews, the overall KI operation and effectiveness faced a lim-
ited number of district- and project-level challenges related to externally
influenced work interruptions, funding uncertainty, and changes in the dis-
trict structure along with several internal factors. Participants consistently
discussed district-wide work-to-rule and other work stoppages precipitated
by teacher union actions related to salary, extracurricular activity, and gov-
ernment policy issues that often resulted in committees being unable to meet.
While most participants remained committed to the EYLP, funding ambiguity
often inhibited planning and decision making. While there were few negative
comments related to the EYLP, one participant felt that the overall scale of the
committee infrastructure was too large and cumbersome. While they believe
it had strategic and implementation importance, they believed its size and
244 Karen Edge

complexity may negate the transfer of the structure within other initiatives.
Two participants expressed skepticism about the relative merit attributed to
practitioner knowledge at committee meetings, stating that while they were
consistently encouraged to share their views, the density of meeting agen-
das did not always permit exploration all school-level EYLP implementation
issues.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

Grounded within conceptions of tacit and explicit knowledge and KM the-


ory, this article set out to accomplish two goals, including: (1) to explore
the EYLP and KI as an example of district-level knowledge management;
and (2) to extend conceptions of KM theory based on a set of unintended
EYLP KI outcomes. Within this section, the implications for tacit knowledge
personalization and tacit-to-explicit knowledge codification are highlighted,
followed by several possible theoretical KM extensions and propositions for
educational KM research.

Implications for Tacit Knowledge Management


EYLP participants highlight the value of face-to-face relationship building and
networking offered by the knowledge infrastructure and its overall influence
on tacit-to-tacit knowledge sharing or personalization opportunities. The KI
provided opportunities for sharing context-specific and situational knowl-
edge (Elliott et al., 2011), collaborative working (Andrews, 2005; Little, 1990),
and consultation required for reflection, tacit knowledge development, and
changes in professional practice. The opportunities extended both individual
and collective learning about practice and contributed to the overall develop-
ment of the project through “a process of socialization through observation,
induction, and increasing participation rather than formal inquiry” (Eraut,
2000, p. 122). While the development of this knowledge may have occurred
without KI participation, it appears that participants feel the KI escalated
their learning and tacit knowledge development of EYLP participations, con-
text, and organizational structures. As Eraut (2000) suggests, tacit knowledge
sharing and development can be supported by a “climate of mutual consulta-
tion encouraging those consulted to describe what they know” (p. 120) that,
based on the evidence, appears to have been achieved by the KI.
As tacit knowledge most often increases with experience (Sternberg &
Hedlund, 2002), the EYLP created opportunities to recognize the value of
classroom- and school-based literacy expertise by engaging front-line EYLP
experts within the KI. As tacit knowledge can be inherently biased (Eraut,
2000), the large number of professionals engaged in the KI possibly creates
a buffer against patterns of bias.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 245

However, there remain challenges associated with tacit knowledge


development and sharing. First, tacit knowledge sharing requires reflec-
tion, trust, encouragement, and opportunity. Within the EYLP context,
the turnover of EYLP participants, changing committee membership, and
work stoppages may have created challenges to building the trust and
engagement necessary for prolonged knowledge sharing. This highlights
the value of protected and prioritized time within regularized and strategic
knowledge-sharing programs.
The EYLP KI committees created a representative, cross-functional,
cross-hierarchical structure that encouraged cross-pollination of ideas and
opportunities for networking. This infrastructure nurtured relationships
that may not have necessarily occurred beyond committee opportunities.
EYLP-related knowledge-sharing activities and committee member exper-
tise created individual information-gathering opportunities and connections
to their school-level colleagues and to emerging initiatives and oppor-
tunities. The EYLP knowledge infrastructure offers an example of how
prolonged and deliberate district-level attention to the structural and sys-
tematic opportunities for tacit knowledge sharing may bring together
professionals from across vertical and horizontal district and/or school
structures.

Implications for Explicit Knowledge Management


The development of the EYLP expertise catalog emerged from a distinct
need and was successful without a sophisticated electronic support platform.
This EYLP example provides an example of several strategies that attempt
to address the development of a local and shared knowledge base, in this
case related to literacy instruction. While in many circles the discussion of
tacit knowledge becoming explicit remains an illusive ideal, EYLP evidence
suggests some merit in the deliberate and strategic creation of regularized
and meaningful opportunities for developing and sharing tacit knowledge
with the intention of creating explicit resources.
As Nonaka and Takeuchi (2009) suggest, tacit knowledge can become
“accessible through consciousness if it leans towards the explicit side of
the continuum” (p. 636). The evidence from this research, building on the
wider scholarly discussion, suggests several possible strategies for districts
and schools setting out to establish personalization strategies within a strate-
gically designed KM structure. First, specific strategies for promoting tacit to
explicit knowledge codification can include using meditating objects (Eraut,
2000). Second, Sternberg et al. (2000) suggest that creating opportunities that
prompt “individuals to selectively encode and selectively combine informa-
tion can enhance the acquisition of tacit knowledge (p. 217). Finally, Elliott
et al. (2011) suggest creating opportunities for professionals to reflect and
discuss both what and why certain actions and decisions are being taken.
246 Karen Edge

Mindful consideration of these points during the design and implementation


of educational change programs may enhance knowledge sharing.
In three instances, committee-inspired relationships created sponta-
neous groupings of professionals who were committed to developing
explicit, new resources for the program. The work of these self-formed
groups became EYLP legacy documents and influenced the project as they
were seen to be credible, peer-generated, program-specific resources in the
eyes of participants. While these examples of spontaneous codification are
insightful, they herald the possible potential for greater district-level atten-
tion to structures and strategies supporting the development of explicit
knowledge resources in a more regularized way. The inclusion of similar
strategies within new instructional initiatives may serve to support ongoing
network-based knowledge conversations. Furthermore, attention to the tech-
nological infrastructure could serve to enhance the power of KM in support
of implementation projects such as EYLP.
The district-level challenge to maximize the influence of projects similar
to EYLP and other initiatives within and across school learning communities
is how to scale up their relational and technological infrastructures to more
rapidly support codification of the learning and work of teachers. While
teachers and leaders are becoming more sophisticated in their use of tech-
nology and online learning support, the technical, physical, and temporal
barriers to teacher collaboration remain, marking an area for future research
and policy consideration.

Practical KM-Related Solutions for Districts and Schools


Based on evidence presented here, the creation of interrelated committees
can be a meaningful way of establishing and nurturing professional con-
nections between schools and across district-level professionals. However,
the participants in the EYLP suggest there are several key conditions that
support meaningful committee-level engagement and, in turn, recognized
knowledge-sharing opportunities. District- and school-level leaders wishing
to apply the lessons from the EYLP to enhance their own knowledge-sharing
strategies would be well advised to prioritize: (1) openly recruiting and
engaging practitioners in decision making; (2) creating knowledge banks or
lists of the expertise held by individuals and teams and making them acces-
sible to schools and district-level professionals; (3) deliberately establishing
opportunities to network and mobilize internal expertise; and (4) facilitating
interrelated committee work and district-wide synergy.

Extending Conceptions of KM
KM can be a powerful strategy for organizations to enhance professional
learning and innovation (Garvin, 1993; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Von Krogh
Rethinking Knowledge Management 247

et al., 2000). While public-sector and educational organizations have paid


less attention to KM as a tool for organizational development, this study
provides evidence of the possibilities that KM-related strategies can poten-
tially provide benefits extending beyond the boundaries of an initial program
improvement design. While, in most contexts, KM initiatives are ends in
themselves, the evidence from this study offers some possibility that uniting
KM-supported implementation strategies with instructional and leadership
development initiatives can prove successful including: KM as a strategy for
employee validation and recognition; linking KM initiatives directly to pro-
gram implementation; KM for sustaining commitment and implementation;
and, finally, KM in support of scaling up initiatives and innovation.

KM AS A STRATEGY FOR EMPLOYEE VALIDATION AND RECOGNITION


The EYLP evidence demonstrates the potential of KM to validate employee
knowledge and experience by creating regular opportunities to reflect on
and capture their learning and work and validate and celebrate individual
and school-level practice and success. Systematic attention to knowledge
mobilization influenced the sense of participant validation and morale of
teachers and leaders by creating opportunities for meaningful engagement,
systemic interaction, and sharing of their professional knowledge and exper-
tise. As a regularized practice, these knowledge exchange–related activities
may serve a valuable purpose and could be considered as an integral step
in program development and implementation.

LINKING KM INITIATIVES DIRECTLY TO PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION


KM initiatives are traditionally adopted as specific discrete programs for
collecting and cataloguing knowledge, with a primary outcome being the
storage of explicit knowledge resources in electronic knowledge reposito-
ries or knowledge banks. As KM strategies often appear to be interpreted
as stand-alone initiatives, they often face organization-level implementation
challenges. The EYLP evidence suggests that directly linking KM implemen-
tation to a core instructional and leadership development initiative may
introduce KM while still serving the purposes of the instructional renewal
efforts. This lesson may also be of value to corporate organizations, although
it has not been fully explored to date within the research literature.

KM FOR SUSTAINING COMMITMENT AND I MPLEMENTATION

In many ways, the EYLP employed KM-related strategies in support of initial


program design and development. The project’s support and dedication to
creating opportunities for tacit knowledge sharing and networking appeared
248 Karen Edge

to support the EYLP in the hearts and minds of teachers. In turn, teacher
commitment, combined with access to colleagues to support their ongo-
ing learning and implementation, enhanced ongoing EYLP implementation.
Attending to personalization in a systemic and program-linked way enabled
the EYLP to demonstrate a rapid program-wide ability to respond to changes
within the internal district-level landscape. These findings suggest that pol-
icymakers and educational leaders may benefit from giving much more
attention to KM structures and systems when they are enacting new pol-
icy and program initiatives as enhancements and accelerate the influence
of reforms. From this evidence, KM may be a key support for ongoing
program-level initiatives and the EYLP evidence contributes to the collec-
tive understanding of the unintended, yet highly valuable, contributions of
KM within education.

KM IN SUPPORT OF SCALING UP INITIATIVES AND I NNOVATION

The EYLP evidence demonstrates the potential for the introduction of district-
level social infrastructures to promote vertical and horizontal professional
sharing and learning and project introduction and implementation. While the
EYLP was a top-down initiative, it was in many ways a homegrown project
committed to building on existing system-level expertise and infrastruc-
tures. Simultaneously, as the EYLP supported the improvement of teaching
practice, it also initiated pockets of innovative practice and professional
skill development that were then shared via the formal and informal EYLP
networks and connections.
While the introduction of strategies for bringing professionals together in
a variety of decision-making and professional development roles is not knew,
the strategic and sustained approach to engagement appeared to mobilize
interest, expertise, and commitment to the reform. While it is beyond the
original study, and this article, to comment on the EYLP and its scaling
up and out across the district, the EYLP had appeared to have generated
interested in the specific actions and techniques being applied within and
across schools to enhance teacher practice and student learning.
The knowledge infrastructure served an introductory function for intro-
ducing the overall strategy but served an ongoing purpose in bringing
professionals together to share how innovations in the field, at the school
level, were being introduced. This strategy appeared to serve as an excellent
tool for scaling up school-level ideas and sustain support for implementation.
This is perhaps not surprising, given discussions of scaling-up interventions
that highlight that efforts to scale up successful interventions do not emerge
based on shifts in organizational structure, top-down implementation efforts,
or external support (Glennan, Bodilly, Galegher, & Kerr, 2004). Similarly,
Glennan et al. (2004) suggest successful scaling up occurs on the heels of
enthusiastic educators who feel efficacious and see evidence of their efforts.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 249

In earlier discussions of scaling up educational change efforts, Healey


and DeStefano (1997) highlight the dual importance of “space cleaning,”
building the political and financial possibility for change, combined with
“space filling,” the introduction of quality and evidenced educational inter-
ventions to improve outcomes. Based on the evidence presented herein,
the EYLP was successful in both, which perhaps may also provide an
interesting lens for districts contemplating their efforts to either scale up
locally sourced successful interventions or those borrowed from other
jurisdictions.
As such, the EYLP evidence, and the focus on the contribution that
strategic consideration of the principals and practices of knowledge man-
agement theory, may support districts in their leadership of instructional
improvements (Honig, 2008, 2012) and scaling up of local and borrowed
interventions (Coburn, 2003; Healey & DeStefano, 1997; Rand, 2004).

Future Research
Based on the EYLP evidence presented here, several areas of future study
emerge. While the EYLP and many districts and schools are often focused
and successful at the tacit-to-tacit, or personalization, side of KM, many often
stumble as they move toward meaningful and systematic codification and
sharing of teacher-generated explicit knowledge and resources. Therefore,
future research exploring how districts attempt to create sustained opportu-
nities for personalization and codification would be instructional. Research
uniting KM and system-thinking theories within educational contexts would
also be especially insightful. Specific exploration of how district- and school-
level leaders can foster and support knowledge sharing would also be
helpful for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.
Similarly, as the emergence of the influence of the knowledge infastruc-
ture as a prominent strategy for knoweldge sharing was unanticipated, the
research was not specifically designed to gather evidence of the influence
of KI-inspired sharing and uptake in members’ schools. Similarly, the rela-
tive effectiveness of KI as a knoweldge sharing strategy was not examined
during the original design of the study or analysis. As details of the influ-
ence and effectiveness of district-level committees as a knowledge-sharing
strategey, both provide important points of departure for future research on
district-level knoweldge sharing.
As Rogers (1995) suggests, important social structures often act in
conjunction with other organizational systems, including communication
structures, that encompass the “interpersonal networks linking a system’s
members, determining who interacts with whom and under what circum-
stances” (p. 24). Deliberate research and practice attention to network-level
scope and scale can provide insights into how knowledge diffuses through
a system (Daly, Molenaar, Bolivar, & Burke, 2010). As such, research-related
250 Karen Edge

social network theory and knowledge mobilization could possibly extend


KM-related knowledge and practice in support of district- and school-level
sharing.
For example, as the value of the KI only truly came to light during data
collection, the study did not measure specific interactions between commit-
tee members, the newness of the networked connections, and the nature of
the committee collaborations. These possible research considerations would
add much to the understanding of district-level KM initiatives and could draw
on and connect to current research exploring district-level social networking
theory (SNT) and make timely and important contributions to the evidence
base related to systematic and strategic tacit knowledge sharing. While much
of the current SNT discussion centers on understanding networks between
professionals and their influence on uptake and/or engagement in change,
the potential value of exploring social network influence and strategic KM
design and implementation may serve as a powerful force in educational
change knowledge.
While this research also did not explore the nuanced evidence related
to teacher and leader usage of existing and EYLP-generated research knowl-
edge, recent knowledge mobilization research (Cooper et al, 2009; Levin,
2010, 2011) would be a powerful companion for KM-related district-level
research. Historically in education, knowledge utilization (Crowson & Boyd,
1996; Cousins & Leithwood, 1995; Fuhrman, 1994; Hargreaves, 1996) has
been concerned with understanding how and why professionals choose
to take up research evidence within their professional policy and prac-
tice. Similarly, a legacy of work focused on the diffusion of ideas and
innovations (Fullan, 1991; House, 1974) that focused on how innovation
is spread (Rogers, 1995), the steps individuals take to adopt new ideas
(Havelock, 1975; Rogers, 1995), and social aspects of diffusion (Louis, 1992)
is created. Again, while it appears that KM would be predicated on this
historical research legacy, there is little to suggest that modern KM is thus
informed. In Future research may suggest possibly powerful outcomes of
a deliberate attention to the relationships between KM and the knowledge
utilization/mobilization agenda.
Karmon (2007) suggests, “One of the most important challenges fac-
ing the world of education today is to create a new model of the
institutional organisation of knowledge” (p. 628). While the KI provided
opportunities for collaborative work, engagement, and consultation, the
EYLP approach provides an illustration of potential value of strategic and
district-wide project design and implementation-focused knowledge sharing
or personalization. This article articulates the potential value of district-
level KM design and introduction as a fruitful program-implementation
strategy.
Rethinking Knowledge Management 251

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