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Knowledge Management Systems in Practice - A Work place Study

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This dissertation contributes to the existing body of knowledge on how we design computersystems, particularly multiuser software for knowledge sharing and creation in globallydiffused companies. This is achieved by conducting a work place study of a global industrialengineering conglomerate which has the strategy of working with knowledge in the form of“best practices” meant to boost performance. The thesis explores the situation that workersare in, since they are meant to share and develop “best practices” knowledge in a portalbased Knowledge Management System (KMS). The study indentifies a set of problems thatprevents knowledge sharing from taking place to the degree to which management wasspecifically aiming. It was explored whether these problems could, to some degree, bemitigated by employing persuasive design, which is a new stance towards design where theaim is to directly seek to change the user’s behavior, i.e., persuading more knowledgesharing.The main contribution is an indication of an anomaly with regards to the strategicapproach towards knowledge management, where knowledge sharing is seen as an effort bywhich companies can gain a competitive advantage by working with knowledge in astructured fashion. The issue is that the descriptions found in literature on strategicknowledge management do not address the many issues uncovered when conductingprolonged fieldwork among workers who engage in the activities that the literatureseemingly takes for granted. Thus, many practical problems were uncovered that wouldneed some level of mitigation before a company could hope to gain a strategic advantagefrom working with knowledge. This challenges the “stock" approach towards knowledgemanagement, which seems to address only the management level of the organization.A contribution is also made in exploring the state-of-the-art of the emerging field ofpersuasive design. Persuasive design aims at enabling designers to create designs thatdeliberately change the user’s attitude or behavior. According to this new design tradition,the designer specifically designs with the aim of behavior transformation. The goal is adeliberate behavioral change, rather than supporting a set of existing tasks or a set ofexisting behaviors. The work presented shows how persuasive design is a very conceptualarea of research, and that it is not a fitting approach for attaining a higher degree ofparticipation in computer systems for knowledge sharing and creation. Persuasive design isthus not the remedy for the many problems found that prevent knowledge sharing fromtaking place

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Kristian Tørning

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