Systems Theory and Knowledge Management Systems: The Case of Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne

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Conference Proceeding

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Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

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Despite a growing body of research on knowledge management (KM) systems, many managers are still unsure how they can implement a KM system that will effectively contribute to the firm’s competitive advantage. A common framework is one that breaks down KM into four main activities: knowledge creation, storage, transfer, and application. This paper describes one company’s use of an alternative perspective–a systems thinking approach–to define and improve KM within the firm. Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne moved away from viewing KM as separate processes, to view the organization holistically as a system of people, processes, and technology. Based on this perspective, the company identified and changed key behaviors within the KM environment that led to undesirable states, effectively establishing a generative learning environment. Based on this case study we derive a set of concepts and propositions that can be used by both academic and practitioners to improve KM practices.


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