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Knowledge management; critical success factor in organizational agility


Academic year: 2020

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Knowledge management; critical success factor in organizational agility


Nour-Mohammad Yaghoubi (Ph.D.) and


Mahboubeh Rahat Dahmardeh


University of Sistan and Baluchestan, School of Management and Accounting, Department

of Management, Zahedan, Iran. P.O.Box: 98135/987(E-mail:yaghoobinor@yahoo.com)


Master of Public Management - Human Resources, University of Sistan and Baluchestan


Changing is one of the most important features of organization in new competitive age. There is almost no organization without changing during 3-6 months or one year. In the other hand business situation requires successful organization to be agile. So organization agility replies variable needs in competition and get some advantages of new opportunities fully and comprehensively. Knowledge, information and individuals will lead to organizational success in future; also different agility models confirm it. Many experts believe agility to include using the information technology and perfect communication and exchange dates toward knowledge management so that organizations which are going to be agile, they should train and gain useful skills with experience and improve to invest for human sources and their education. Therefore it is necessary to manage the knowledge to be agile in organization. The aim of this research is to study and analyze the place of knowledge management in organizational agility based on current empirical studies and findings. Hence, firstly, some definitions of organizational agility, knowledge and its management in the organization; then some of the most important models of organizational agility and the place of knowledge management have been explained. The authors hope that this study could provide the context of organizational agility based on knowledge management in organization more than ever and much more studies and research would come out of it.

Keywords: Knowledge management, Organizational agility, Knowledge, Organization, Model


Current business circumstances are changing more than 15-20 years ago, so technology, market states costumers’ needs are modifies fast. However, there were a lot changes before. Hence changing is the main feature of organization in new competition age. There are few organizations in 3-6 or one-year duration [1]. Current Business circumstances cause the organization to modify knowledge, perspective, approaches and expected findings [2, 3]. However agility is the best way to response internal and external changing factors in such market. Agility is presented a bout last 2 decades and its comprehensive response to changes of competitive market and gain new opportunities. Agility provide new mental comprehensions of production, customers, supply and demand, selling, different business relationship, assessing the personal and organizations [4]. In fact agility means break up all

traditional thinking and relationships [5]. Agility is active which includes changes, rising and follows to gain profit, market share and attracts costumers in competition entering which, most of organization feel worried about [2,3]. So, agile organization can learn new methods to benefit new opportunities to raise profits. Researchers present different definitions of learning which include personal experiences, reports, information bases and the cases.


be advantages to be agile. In this situation organization should use its sources to gain achievements. However, agility will decentralize and focus on information and human sources. So it should distribute all information individuals and all parts of organization and pay attention to their knowledge .these organization are called knowledge –based organization [7, 8, 9, and 10]. Work force own this knowledge and information and so they believed knowledge is the power [6].

Martinsons(2000) noted knowledge management is the main duty of knowledge –based organization so it can promote application, productivity, competency, raising internal information and better designation, gain the best method, decries the costs and more creation organization.

Definition of organization agility: Agile and agility means fast, active and nimble, ability to more fast and easily and think fast and wisely respectively [11].

But it shows effective reaction to variable and unexpected situation, and use them to develop the organization.

Naylor and et al. (1999), Manson – Jones (2000), indicate agility is ability to use profit opportunities in volatile market. Also it is explained to use current knowledge and virtual structure to gain profitable opportunities in variable business circumstances.

Crocitto and Youssef (2003) believe agility not only is made by market knowledge but also human knowledge to understand the providers, personal and costumers will make it [12, 13, 14, 15, and 5]. Kodish and et al. expect organization can react to costumers needs with un-supposed changes perfectly by usage of technology, personal and communicated management. As a matter of fact, agility composed of organization capability to decide the management is troubled business conditions [16, 17].

Iacocca Institute offers agility as a strong production system (with internal capabilities, soft and hard technologies, human sources, educated manager and information) can reply the current market needs rapidly [8].

Kidd (2000) submits agility like agile organization is a rapid, compatible and intelligent business which is able to overcome unexpected happens, opportunities and costumers needs.

So this business has special. Structures and procedures which provide speed ,adaptation and flexibility hence an agile organization is a regular and

able to competitive in completely active un expected business circumstances which is not against its present performance [18,19].

Dove (2001) demonstrates it to try organizational learning toward systematic training [20]. As you know to be different of agility, while there is no certain differentiation but it shows rapid performing identifying changes and suitable responses.

Knowledge management in organization: It is not easy to explain knowledge management but the investigators illustrate it differently on the basis of various matters.


thinking, argument and communicate about future the organization will compete to use it permanently.

Knowledge investment improves the relationship among costumers, beneficiaries and organization skills. You will manage the knowledge and develop productivity to use it [25].

Zhang & Zhao (2006) state knowledge management to be reviewing strategy, process and technology to choosing, organizing and distributing basic business information. Also Huysman & Dewit (2000) illustrate it to support knowledge distributing. In a research Backman (1999) found it to formulated and receive experiences, knowledge and specialism which will create new capabilities and improve performance, innovation and costumers value. Laudon & Laudon (1999) shows knowledge management to be systematic, active and effective too [26].

Knowledge management in other study involves a system to gather, proof the information, data and experiences which promote social and team relationship to spread the knowledge [27]. Overall knowledge management is described as a frame of structures, individual, team and organizational process while the organization can make worth for costumers. Hence this frame merges individuals, procedures and technology (on the base of culture) to insure development of learning and performance.

Knowledge-management and agility models:

Agility dimensions in systematic model

Goldman and et al. (1995) specify 4 aspects of organization agility. They suppose the organization as complicated phenomenon should be systematic and includes 4 main pivots:

A) Internal and external cooperation organization;

B) Make creative and flexible structure ;

C) Establish knowledge-based –organization;

D) Satisfy the costumers [7, 8, 9, and 10].

All dimensions of agility in Goldman and et al. model refer to knowledge and mange it. Turban (2003) states knowledge management as procedures to value mental and information. However it needs to share knowledge among individuals, different parts or even organizations [28]. Then this cooperation can make value in organization which is called knowledge management. Vang presents just flexible structure leads to knowledge since it is able to reorganize individuals and units to reply organizational

necessities [29]. There for flexible structure not only is found in agile organization but also it is an important part of knowledge based management. This organization effect on knowledge management directly. because this organization is principle to manage it finally fourth dimension involve to provide solutions against products for costumers, Hence the organization has to recognize their costumers, needs and expectations correctly [7,8,9,10].

Petrash (1996) researched knowledge management and found certain persons can receive the information in suitable time and able to decide effectively [26].

So, this aspect focuses on knowledge and management in organization too.

Rick Dove valuation model of agility

Prof Rick Dove (1999) was the first to present agility is a "capability of process to react against unexpected changes". His model is automobile vehicle meter with 2 key agents such as knowledge management and skill full to change.

He says these items joint to gather which power agile organization. When there is a balance between then; organizations are the agilest. Dove believes skill to change composed of execute the changes quickly with least expense and flexible. Knowledge management has two main riots, strategy of knowledge management and competency. The strategy refer to "what can we get?", " when “and" How value it".

Competency means "How to receive the information", "How to convert it" and “how to use it”. Organization can recognize haw to receive, develop, transfer and use the information after it determines strategy, basis and destination. Strategy and competency are found in our personals minds [20].

Youssef and et al. model

Youssef and et al. (1999), studied agile organization and demonstrated 32 features for them. Then they sorted them as 4 aspects:

• Manage core competencies;

• Cooperate and participated with other organizations;

• Able to re-organizing;


They know the first concept of pre-permanent agility is key competencies which include group learning in organization especially how various productive skills and technologies can be coordinated. Human competencies involve skills, knowledge, meanest and experiences and manage them [6, 33].

As you observed this model refers to knowledge management too. In addition to Youssef (1999) ten areas for organization agility and every area has several features like "training and learning" which has four features such as learning organization, multi skill full and flexible personnel, improving their skills and knowledge and training ,learning and permanent development in organization [2,32].

Reference Model of agile production cycle

Meredith and Francis (2000), researched to recognize agility in small and mid institutions. They wanted to help the manager to distinguish agility capabilities in firms and organization and determine agility bottle necks and development plan.

They stated to investigate them. They reviewed desirable firms and researched them. Next they planed 16 parts of agility references which involve 4 general riots such as process, relationship, strategy and individuals. Fourth quarter of this model focus on personal and human management in organization and four strategies includes adaptable structure, conscious and multi skill full individuals, rapid deciding, and permanent learning [34]. An adaptable structure affects on the form of status of organization. Traditional bureaucratic structures are not for they need to be certified by offices. When organizational adaptable structures will be design, organization can use new opportunities and restructure them. Multi skill full and flexible personal can design it and agile firms don’t depend on others but refer to individuals’ intelligence. The main part of agile production is individuals’ ability, participation in productive institute. So an organization should use its personal intelligences to be agile. More over rapid decision making affects on the speed of respond to changes which is a most important characteristic of an agile organization. And coordinate permanent learning indicates the personal will accept new idea and choose modern performances with open arms. Dijeos (who participates with Peter Sange in Royal Dutchshel.co) notes permanent learning is only long-time competitive advantages and learning organization can increase its capability to design in future permanently and individuals improve their

ability to achieve new patterns and group opinions [35].


Change is not new topic to research. There were 3 philosophical ideology of Greece presented the change and paid attention to particularly. These days many organizations face to developing competitive following development of technology, unfixed business circumstances and altering costumers demands. So it is necessary to raised and improved flexibility and reply the main need. Most of organization use restructure and re-engineering strategy to meet changes during last decades but they are not perfect to overcome the changes now; and should be replaced with new views [2, 36]. Hence agility can be a new method against them and provides achievement of benefit, attract costumers in competitive business markets. An agile organization can always learn every thing to use new opportunities and increase the benefits [37]. Almost all of above models refer to knowledge management in organization directly and indirectly. And Goldman and


individual is necessary. Knowledge based organization not only establishes internal relationship but also it relates to costumers, providers or even contestants to raise its learning capability [39]. Many agility models emphasis on positive view, accept and use of ICT in organization such as Zain and et al

(2005) [17] Sharp and et al (1999) [33], Hillegersberg (2005) [45], Mereadith & Francis (2000) [34], McCullen (2001) [31] and Crocitto & Youssef (2003) [5].

One process of knowledge management in organization is acquisition of the knowledge. We can obtain knowledge through various mechanisms like internal participation and teamwork.

Starns & Odmon (2006) [43], Jackson and et al,

Caravan and et al (2000) and many other scholars of knowledge management emphasized on participation and teamwork. Moreover knowledge will be valued when it distributes by individual participation [23]. Also it is important to be agile organization. Hillegersberg and et al (2005) [45] Lin and et al

(2006) [2], Lo (1998) [17] Youssef and et al. (1999) [32], Goldman and et al (1995) [9], Sharp (1999) [33], Kumar and Motwani (1995) [31] certified it too.

Shortly knowledge management is the most important to be agile organization. In fact it’s the best way to be agiler organization.


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