Knowledge Management in Malaysia

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It is so difficult and though for the managers of the organizations to apply knowledge management in their departments, because this major is still new in so many aspects such as business environment and organizational culture or behavior and it has a long way to be completed. It is hard for the managers to believe that, it has so many benefits if they use knowledge management tools in their organizations.

Managers should bear in their mind that knowledge management is not an automatic practice, it must be initiated by people and have the support of the whole organization. Something like these myths need to be eliminated and the exact meaning of knowledge management must be clearly understood by managers and the rest of the organizations. This will help the managers to abundantly getting help from knowledge management and apply it in the organizations (Sobahle 2005).

The study on American Productivity and Quality Center’s International Bench-marking shows that, about 11 organizations are working on the knowledge management area which are: Arthur Andersen; Chevron Corporation; Dow Chemical Company; Hughes Space & Communications; Kaiser Permanente; Price Waterhouse; Sequent Computer Systems; Skandia AFS; Texas Instruments; USAA; and National Security Agency, the following was recognized (Ishak, 2002):

  • Share the understanding those techniques which can be used.
  • Apply the techniques to new directions.

Further more, the other issues which can assure the success of knowledge management initiatives are something like, emphasizes on the issues such as employees’ issues, top management leadership and commitment, organizational culture and technological infrastructure.

This chapter approaches the literature review on knowledge management. In this chapter the try is made to clarify some of the most important key factors of knowledge management and analyze their respective literature. The attempt is made to show the different aspects of knowledge management. It has a brief introduction on knowledge management which is used by Malaysian organizations then it will be explain about the knowledge management frame works and architectures. In this chapter the most two important factors in knowledge management which, technological approach and human approach, are considered. This chapter will finish by the knowledge management concern, issues and at last discuss about the benefit of knowledge management will be considered.


Over past two decades Malaysia has been transitioning from relying on a production based- economy to a knowledge-based economy (Chang, 2005). The concept of knowledge management in Malaysia was born with the establishment of the “Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)” in 1990’s to accelerate this concept in Malaysia.

Actually, there are so many Malaysian companies which they are working on knowledge management and they realize and understand the importance of it in the professional life. In January 15, 2002, one of the prestigious magazines in Malaysia, Computerworld Malaysia organized the Knowledge Management Roundtable ‘A Vital Strategy or Expensive Toy’. The participants from various sectors in Malaysia shared their point of views and approaches implemented and exchanged ideas in practicing knowledge management (Chang, 2005).

As an example for the practical aspect, there are a number of organizations in Malaysia which are successful in knowledge management initiatives, such as: Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS), MAMPU, Bank Negara Malaysia, Siemens, Nokia Malaysia and Telekom Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Petroleum Nasional Berhad (Petronas) are examples of organizations in Malaysia that have embarked on KM initiatives.

There are so many studies on knowledge management in Malaysia, and the structure of Malaysia papers in Malaysia seems to be incomprehensive, there are a few number of out standing articles to mention, which shows in table 2.1.

Table 2.1: Knowledge Management: Malaysian Studies


Author/ Date/Journal

Nature of Work

Intellectual capital and business performance in Malaysian industries

Bontis, Chua & Richardson (2000) Journal of Intellectual Capital

Research Study (Conducted among Malaysian firms)

Knowledge management in healthcare: towards ‘knowledge-driven’ decision- support services

Abidi, (2001) International Journal of Medical Informatics

Case Study (Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital located in Kota Baharu, Malaysia)

Managing human resources toward achieving knowledge management

Yahya & Goh, (2002) Journal of Knowledge Management

Research Study (Conducted among Malaysian firms)

Knowledge management in a public organization: a study on the relationship between organizational elements and the performance of knowledge transfer.

Syed Ikhsan & Rowland, (2004) Journal of Knowledge Management

Case Study (Ministry of Entrepreneur development of Malaysia)

Benchmarking knowledge management in a public organization in Malaysia

Syed Ikhsan & Rowland, (2004) Benchmarking: An International Journal

Case Study (Ministry of Entrepreneur development of Malaysia)

An empirical study of perceived importance and actual implementation of knowledge management process in the Malaysian telecommunication industry

Chong & Yeow, (2005) Proceedings of ICTM

Research Study (Study among Malaysian telecommunication Industry

KM critical success factors: A comparison of perceived importance versus implementation in Malaysian ICT companies.

Chong, (2006) The Learning Organization

Research Study (194 Malaysian ICT companies)

KM implementation in Malaysian telecommunication industry an empirical analysis.

Wei, Choy & Yeow, (2006) Industrial Management & Data Systems

Research Study (289 employees working in Telecommunication organizations in Malaysia)

KM implementation and its influence on performance: an empirical evidence from Malaysian multimedia super corridor companies

Chong, (2006) Journal of Information and Knowledge Management

Research Study (Study among Malaysian multimedia super corridor companies)

Exploring KM issues and KM performance outcomes: empirical evidence from Malaysian multimedia super corridor companies

Chong & Lin (2006) International Journal of Technology Management

Research Study (Study among Malaysian multimedia super corridor companies)

An exploratory study on knowledge management adoption in the Malaysian Industry.

Wong, (2008) International Journal of Business Information Systems

Research Study (exploratory KM survey conducted in the Malaysian industry)


According to Von Krogh (1998), which he takes a business perspective stating that KMS help increase competitiveness, the purpose of implementing KMS in organizations are various. KMS leads to grater innovation and responsiveness, Hackbarth (1998). Davenport and Prusak (1998) provide three reasons why KMS are implemented in organizations which are as follows:

Ø To enhance visibility of knowledge in organizations through the use of maps, hypertexts, yellow pages, directories etc.

Ø To build a knowledge sharing culture i.e. create avenues for employees to share knowledge.

Ø To develop a knowledge infrastructure, not confined to technology solely, rather create an environment that permits collaborative work.

These three things which were proposed by Davenport and Prusak (1998) imply that KMS can support an organization in planning for and dealing with emergencies.

Many organizations are still wrestling with their knowledge management and failing to realize its full potential. This is due to their lack of the support of strong theoretical foundation to guide them in its implementation (Wong & Aspinwall, 2004). Unfortunately, many organizations do not have a clear knowledge management implementation plan in mind (Liebowitz, 1999). Therefore, in order for an organization to be victorious in its effort to manage knowledge, a guiding framework is essential. This is why in this part a review of diverse knowledge management implementation frameworks and models is presented. The framework consents to researchers as well as practitioners to measure the current state of knowledge management effectively and systematically. Thus, the knowledge management framework should provide not only a unified view of knowledge management phenomena but also help investigators study the field of knowledge management in an organized way. There have been few efforts to develop a framework of knowledge management. However, none of the frameworks can provide a complete and generalized frame for knowledge management by defining fundamental attributes of knowledge management and their interrelationships because knowledge management can be viewed differently on one’s background and interests (Chong, 2005).

To know the exact value of knowledge management, an architecture of it, would provide the necessary understanding of different components like, knowledge management activities, knowledge management resources, knowledge management influences (Holsapple & Joshi, 1997). The improvement of a framework is to follow and track the progress and maturity of knowledge management of an enterprise, so, it would serve to support the industry-wide improvement of knowledge management programs. Further more, it would provide an acceptable frame of reference for the assessment of the adequacies of an organization by government, commercial customers and prime contractors (Chong, 2005).

The knowledge management frameworks can be classified under four categories (Table 2.2)

Which are namely, knowledge creation framework, knowledge cycle processes of knowledge management, cases on knowledge management initiatives in industry and high-level knowledge management frameworks.

Table 2.2: KM Frameworks and their examples in the literature

Knowledge Management Frameworks


Knowledge Creation Framework

Nonaka(1991, 1994), Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995)

Knowledge Cycle Processes of KM

Bose & Sugumaran (2003)

Cases on KM Initiatives in Industry

Apostolou & Mentzas (1998), Lai & chu (2002)

High-Level KM Frameworks

Holsapple & Joshi (2002), Jarrar (2002), Wiig (1997)

Nonaka and Takeuchi are tried to explain the progress and adaption between tacit and explicit knowledge. In fact, knowledge creation framework is not a knowledge management framework, the reason is, and it only deals with the creation of knowledge which is only a share of what constitutes knowledge management. Also, the knowledge cycle processes of knowledge management frameworks are providing a set of activities where the prominence is on the knowledge cycle processes or activities. They mainly address the phases of knowledge flow (from creation to application) in an organization without providing guidance on how to implement knowledge management. The framework on knowledge management initiatives in industry provide a reference to facilitate the structuring, analysis and evaluation of the knowledge management initiatives undertaken in various case companies. Lastly, High-Level knowledge management frameworks are the ones providing more detailed directions on the implementation of knowledge management. This type of framework seems to address not only the question of what is but also how to because it prescribes and suggest ways for organizations to engage in knowledge management activities (Wong & Aspinwall, 2004).

In their review of literature, Wong and Aspinwall, try to have an organized review of the various available frameworks for knowledge management implementation. The acceptable thing for the review was to classify the knowledge management implementation frameworks, find out the short comings of each and finally suggesting a through guide line for developing knowledge management implementation frameworks. They have classified the high level knowledge management frameworks as frameworks such as: 1) System approach, 2) Step approach, 3) hybrid approach.(Table 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 shows the comparisons between frameworks under each approach).

Table 2.3: Comparisons of system approach frameworks

Source: Wong & Aspinwall (2004)

Holsapple & Joshi (2002)

Jarrar (2002)

Gore & Gore (1999)

Wiig et al. (1997)



Set strategic priority Define and understand knowledge

Formulate vision

Conceptualize Reflect











Knowledge Types / resources

Knowledge embedded in participants, culture, infrastructure, artifacts, purpose and strategy


Tacit Knowledge

Explicit knowledge


KM processes / activities

Acquire, select, internalize and use knowledge

Collect, present, distribute and measure knowledge

Mainly focuses on knowledge creation and externalization

Develop, distribute, combine and consolidate knowledge

KM influences / factors

Resource influences, managerial influences, environmental influences

Knowledge environment


External and internal developments

‘—-‘, not indicated or not clearly indicated

Table 2.4: Comparisons of step approach frameworks

Source: Wong & Aspinwall (2004)

McCampbell et al. (1999)

Wiig (1999)


Form powerful coalition

Communicate vision of KM

Establish teams for needs assessment

Analyze the needs of KM

Obtain management buy-in

Survey and map the knowledge landscape

Plan the knowledge strategy

Create and define knowledge-related

alternatives and

potential initiatives

Portray benefit expectations for

knowledge management


Set knowledge management priorities

Determine key knowledge requirements


Identify and collect knowledge

Design a technological structure

Test the technology

Maintenance of the technology

Retest the technology

Training of knowledge workers

Roll out the use of KM practices

Make systems go live

Acquire key knowledge

Create integrated knowledge transfer


Transform, distribute and apply

knowledge assets

Establish and update a KM infrastructure

Manage knowledge assets

Construct incentive programs

Coordinate KM activities and functions


Facilitate knowledge-focused



Track usage

Measure quality and productivity

Measure the performance of KM


Conduct a need assessment review

Monitor knowledge management

Knowledge type / resources

Internal knowledge

External knowledge

Can be inferred from the step: “ manage knowledge assets ”

KM processes / activities

Identify and collect knowledge

Acquire, transform, distribute and apply knowledge

KM influences / factors


Can be inferred from the steps: ‘construct

incentive programs’ and ‘facilitate

knowledge-focused management’

‘—-‘, not indicated or not clearly indicated

Table 2.5: Comparisons of hybrid approach frameworks

Source: Wong & Aspinwall (2004)

Rubenstein – Montano et al. (2001)

Mentzas (2001)


Strategize, Model

Awareness plan


Act, Transfer

Develop, operate




Knowledge types / resources

Tacit knowledge, Explicit knowledge

Knowledge assets

KM processes / activities

KM tasks


KM influences / factors

Culture, Strategy, learning

Strategy, Structure, System

By study on these knowledge frameworks creator an absolute knowledge management implementation framework may include the possible accesses on success of knowledge management. Further more, the obstacles and developers should bear in their mind that if they want to analyze managers in regard with, which elements are likely to disrupt the knowledge management implementation success and which elements may enable their effort towards knowledge management achievements. Finally, a knowledge management implementation frame work should “make a correspondence view among social and technological approach to knowledge management”. Consideration of the authors demonstrate that most of the time this correspondence is disturb in favor of one approach while the other approach is either totally neglected or received incomplete attention (Wong & Aspinwall, 2004).

Different types of knowledge resources are identified. The activities and processes which can help to manage them should be mentioned in the knowledge management implementation framework. As an example, there is some of knowledge management processes such as: acquiring, capturing, creating, organizing, storing, accessing, transferring, sharing, applying, distributing and using knowledge. The suggested clues by Wong and Aspinwall for developing a knowledge management implementation framework include five factors, which are as follows:

(1) Incorporate a clear structure to organize the tasks.

(2) Address the different knowledge resources or types.

(3) Include the knowledge management processes or activities that manipulate the knowledge.

(4) Point out the influences that can affect the performance of knowledge management.

(5) Provide a balanced view between a technological and a social perspective.


2.4.1 Knowledge Management System Definition

Knowledge management system (KMS), are mostly IT based systems for managing knowledge in organizations and are used for supporting, creating, capturing and disseminating of information. The main concept of knowledge management system (KMS) is to make a facility for employees to have an access to the organization’s information, sources, document base facts and their solutions.

As a matter of fact a knowledge management system (KMS) could be any of the following things:

Ø Social computing tools which can help to create a knowledge management system (KMS).

Ø Knowledge management system (KMS), assist in creating network maps in organizations which is used in communication among individuals and entities.

Ø Document based, any formatted that permits, control, manage.

Ø Use Artificial Intelligence (AI), for customized representation schema to demonstrate the problem domain.

Further more, the benefits of using knowledge management in organization can be categorized as:

1. Valuable organizational data and information sharing.

2. Reduce redundant work.

3. Decrease time for new incomers like new employees.

4. Retention of intellectual property.

Based on this definition Gupta and Sharma (2004) divide knowledge management system into seven major categories, which are as follows (tables 2.6):

Table 2.6: Example of KMS

Source: Gupta and Sharma (2004)

KMS Technology


Expert Systems, artificial intelligence and knowledge based management system (KBMS)

Main purpose of these systems is to capture knowledge and perform analysis on existing knowledge base to assist in decision making. Often associated to rule based and pattern recognition systems.

Computer Supported Collaborative Work (Groupware)

Systems that permit sharing and collaborative work. Often described synonymously to Lotus Notes. However, one could suggest that asynchronous (e-mail, wikis e-log) and synchronous systems (videoconference, chat) are newer applications that can fall into this category (Bates and Poole, 2003). Groupware can also include Group Support Systems (GSS) that is intended to support groups make decision (Mandviwalla, 1994).

Document Management Systems

Systems that support the need for managing text and images to make information much more accessible. Similar to the idea of office management systems i.e. use of various word documentation and spreadsheet software.

Decision support systems (DSS)

Business applications that usually contain summaries of large amounts of data, filtered and synthesized particularly to support strategic decision-making. View records related to this term5.

The focus of DSS is on analysis of quantitative data and presentation tools for managers.

Semantic Networks

The focus is on systems that explain not just relationships between entities but the meaning based on how the entities are structured. Can be used to “represent domain knowledge explicitly and shared” (Gupta and Sharma, 2004).

Relational and Object oriented databases

Systems that permit management of both structured (relational) and much more complex data sets (OODBMS)

Simulation tools

Systems that run computer based simulations for a variety of purposes.

2.4.2 Knowledge Management Architecture

Base on Gupta and Sharma (2004) findings, they suggest architecture for knowledge management which has seven levels and it is shown in table 2.7.

Table 2.7: Overview of Knowledge Management Architecture

Source: Form Gupta, Sharma & Hsu (2004)


Key Activities

Customer Knowledge

Detailed, knowledge sharing relationships. Understanding the requirements of customers. Identifying new opportunities.

Stakeholder Relationships

Becoming a better knowledge flows among suppliers, shareholders, employees, community, etc. Use this knowledge to inform key points strategies.

Business Environment Insights

Systematic environmental scanning including political, economic, technology, social and environmental trends. Competitor analysis. Market intelligence systems.

Organizational Memory

Knowledge sharing. Best practice databases. Directories of expertise. Online documents, procedures and discussion forums. Intranets.

Knowledge in Processes

Embedding knowledge into business processes and management. Decision-making.

Knowledge in Products and Services

Knowledge embedded in products. Surround products with knowledge, e.g., in user guides, and enhanced knowledge intensive services.

Knowledge in People

Knowledge-sharing fairs. Innovation workshops. Expert and learning networks. Communities of knowledge practice.

As it shows above there is a seven layer for knowledge management architecture and each level related to a particular aspect of knowledge management. So, in this regard there is a summarization for this table which summarize the important part of this layers and compact it in

just three layers, it is summarized in table 2.8 as follows:

Table 2.8: Knowledge Management Architecture

Source: Gupta, Sharma & Hsu (2004)

Layer Level

Brief Explanation

Data Sources layer

According to different data sources which are accessible within organizations, this layer has both internal and external data sources. As an example, data repository, email repository, databases.

Knowledge Management Layer

The processes of knowledge management layer include acquisition, refinement, storage, retrieval, distribution and presentation of required knowledge. An example would be a knowledge

base which assists decision making processes during an emergency situation.

Knowledge Presentation Layer

This layer represents the interface that forms the basis of interaction between users and the system. This can be called a knowledge portal that can guide decision making in dealing with an emergency situation. The knowledge portal can be designed to support communication, collaboration and information sharing requirement.

There is two more explanation in detailed view for knowledge management architecture and knowledge management process model. The most important part in knowledge management architecture and knowledge management process are capturing knowledge, create a new knowledge, share it and distribute it as it is shown in 2.1 and 2.2.

2.4.3 Performance of Information Technology (IT) in Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Information Technology (IT), plays an important role in acquire, store, disseminate and manage knowledge than ever before. Alavi and Leidner (2001), proposed an admired framework, which can be used to analyze and test the role of Information technology (IT) in design and fulfillment of any Knowledge Management System (KMS). The table (2.9) which is adapted from Alavi and Leidner (2001), shows the different perspectives of knowledge management initiatives and knowledge management system (KMS), design particularly.

Table 2.9: Knowledge Perspective and impact on KM and KMS

Source: Alavi and Leidner (2001, p.11)



Implication for KM

Impact on KMS & Role in IT

Knowledge vis-à-vis data and information

Data is consider as a fact, raw numbers, information is processed/ contextual data/ interpreted data knowledge is personalized information e.g this would entail once experience and exposure.

KM initiative should expose employees to relevant information and facilitate assimilation of information.

KMS may not necessarily be different from an existing information system. The differences are that any KMS should help employees assimilate the information. Role of IT is to ensure KMS design permits information assimilation.

Knowledge as a state of the mind

Knowledge is one’s state of knowing and understanding.

KM initiative should provide an information base that enables individuals to recognize the existence of knowledge. This can enhance individual learning and understanding.

Accessibility to where knowledge resides rather than to knowledge itself- i.e. provide a means to an end. This would include web and wireless access to knowledge base.

Knowledge as an object

Knowledge that is stored and subject to manipulation.

KM initiative should permit development and management of knowledge base.

IT can support KMS to gather, store, and disseminate knowledge.

This would include the use collaborative tools e.g. wikis.

Knowledge as a process

Knowledge visualized as a process of applying expertise.

KM initiative should focus on effective flow of knowledge within the realms of knowledge creation, sharing and dissemination.

by providing links to various knowledge sources which includes internal and external sources. This would include use of web based systems, hyperlinks, markup languages and access to databases. The idea is to offer a wider breadth and depth of knowledge flows

Knowledge and accessibility to information

Knowledge is a condition of access to information.

KM initiative should provide ease of access to and retrieval of content in a given system.

IT can be used to enhance indexing, query and locating relevant information.

Knowledge as a capability

As a capability knowledge has the potential to influence action.

KM initiative should focus on developing core competencies and understanding the strategic intent of the initiative.

It can increase the intellectual capital through development of individual and organizational competencies.

Table 2.9 proposed that Information technology plays an important role in knowledge management initiatives in organizations. Alavi and Leidner (2001) defined a knowledge management system (KMS) as IT- based system develop to support and enhance the organizational processes of knowledge creation. They observe that not all knowledge management initiatives will implement an IT solution, but they support IT as an enabler of knowledge management (Raman, M. & Muthaiyah, S.). In addition, knowledge management system (KMS) can assist organizations in dealing with dynamic and complex situations such as emergencies (Gupta & Sharma, 2004).

2.4.4 Appropriate Theories to Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)

This part consists of two theories which can help to design and implement decisions of any knowledge management systems (KMS) to support knowledge management in organizations. Those mentioned theories are, Information Processing Theory (IPT), and, Contingency Theory. Information Processing Theory (IPT)

George A. Miller (1956), has afforded two theoretical ideas which are the basic concepts of the information processing framework and cognitive psychology. The first approach is “chunking” and the capacity of short term memory. He insists that short term memory can get just 5-9 chunks of information (seven plus or minus two). A chunk could refer to digits, words, people’s faces or any other meaningful units. The second idea which Miller was mentioned is people process information akin to a computerized system. They take input into the memory like the computer, then the human minds take the information, analyze it, store the content and locate it in the best situation of memory and then retrieve as and when needed based on the given situation.

In this context, Burnell (2004), state that:”As diversity of resources, processes or outputs increase inter process coordination requirements and system complexity increase. As uncertainty increases, information processing requirements increases become of management’s inability to predict every situation.” Information processing theory is widely applied in the study of human learning and cognitive styles (Miller, 1960). As a matter of fact Information Processing Theory (IPT) has some principles which are often applied by instructors for the following reasons:

Ø Gain the student’s attention

Ø Point out important and critical chunks of information, separating them from trivial ones.

Ø Provide opportunities for students in linking new to existing information.

Ø Presenting information in clear manner.

Ø Emphasize on meaning of information i.e. not memorizing them.

Actually, those mentioned principles for information processing theory can be applied to design of knowledge management system (KMS) to support emergency preparedness as well (Kostman, 2004). Particularly, in approaching emergency situations, knowledge management system can be elaborated to enable decision makers to:

Ø Retrieve information that is critical, quickly.

Ø Focus on the situation without being loss amidst voluminous information.

Ø Create and share a knowledge base by linking past experience to existing information base.

Ø Structure emergency related information clearly.

Ø Understand different meaning and interpretation of critical terminology used in dealing with an emergency. Contingency Theory

Contingency theory was founded by Lawrence and Lorsch (1967), in the study of ten firms in plastic, food, containers, which are three different i

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