The Impact of Knowledge Sharing in the Provision of Floating Support in Sheltered Housing for the elderly.
As the population ages, increasing number of vulnerable older people are living alone in own home, sheltered housing or residential care. The needs of the older people are constantly changing and there is need for long term support. Older people living in sheltered housing with complex and high needs require access to services with a network of different types of support; high staff cover and supervision. Supported people introduced floating support to aid people with high and complex needs. Floating support aimed at preventing homelessness among people with high difficulties; and intensive support, with out-of-hours cover, for people with high needs. Housing services, social services’, ‘health services’ have to liaise and coordinate the services being provided. Knowledge sharing will help ease of the tensions and demands among the agencies.
This paper, which is based on an on-going PhD project, begins by examining the field of sheltered housing for the elderly, discusses floating support and the key prayers providing the support. This is followed by analysis of knowledge sharing and potential factors that are important to a successful knowledge-sharing in providing floating support to the services provider. This paper concludes that , trust, motivation, effective communication, shared mindsets, training and leadership are the critical for effective knowledge sharing in provision of floating support in sheltered housing for the elderly. Effective gathering and sharing knowledge and information between supported Housing providers, social services and health and Care agencies through the establishment of the Knowledge sharing initiatives.
Knowledge sharing, sheltered housing, floating support and Provisions
Nowadays Knowledge is regarded as a strategic resource in organizations, and thus the leverage of knowledge is a key managerial issue. Knowledge creation, sharing and dissemination are the main activities in knowledge management. This study examines the influence the social and technological factors such as learning culture and IT use, could have on knowledge sharing of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) students. A cross-sectional survey was used as a methodology for data collection and 137 valid responses were collected from all the three categories of students that include graduates, undergraduates and preparatory students. The study shows that there is a significant positive relationship between the student learning culture and IT use on student knowledge sharing. The study limitations, practical implications, along with directions for further research are discussed..
Despite the strong interests among practitioners, there is a knowledge gap with regard to online communities of practice. This study examines knowledge sharing among critical-care and advanced-practice nurses, who are engaged in a longstanding online community of practice.
Lack of knowledge and sharing knowledge with each other was also reflected on (Table 2 and Appendix). The participants from the specialized unit for demented people spoke about their lack of knowledge concerning demented people in general and they wanted more training. Their practical knowledge gained through long experience was put forward by the supervisor. Lack of resources, principally lack of time was another topic for reflection (Table 2 and Appendix). The participants spoke about the work with demented pensioners as time-consuming and that they hardly ever had the time they wanted, for instance to sit down and talk to the pensioners.
The descriptions presented during the sessions and derived from practical experience could also support other staff who are dealing with the complexity of caring for demented people. The participants were given the opportunity of sharing their own knowledge with each other through comparing how they handled various tasks. Several studies show that staff who are given the opportunity to share their practical knowledge with others gain a wider variety of experience, attitudes, new ways, views and solutions to problems (Bulechek & McCloskey 1985, Kadushin 1985). Johns (1995) emphasized that reflective practice always needs to be guided and that clinical supervision is central to the process of learning. ‘Clinical supervision offers an ideal milieu for the guidance of reflective practice just as reflective practice offers an ideal method to structure what takes place within clinical supervision’ (Johns 1995). The benefits of these reflective discussions are not the focus of this study. It seems reasonable, however, to assume that such well-designed discussions also help the nurses to achieve high quality care.
(Olsson and Hallberg 1998)
Effective knowledge sharing is vital to successful provision of floating support in sheltered housing for the elderly.
There is still little knowledge available about home-based professional care for demented people and how to support it from a managerial point of view. In order to develop clinical supervision techniques further and to understand the home care staff’s specific problems in their caring for demented people living in their own homes, it seems useful to study the content of supervision sessions. The professionals’ narratives during such sessions may contribute to a deeper understanding of professional home care for the demented.
It is estimated that the best solution for elderly demented people is to stay at home, since their known environment can better support the maintenance of their personal lives and values. Staying at home supposedly gives demented people an opportunity to maintain ADL-performance, and promotes the individual’s sense of self and integrity (Zgola 1988, Kihlgren 1990). Studies from Canada and the USA show that demented people remain in their homes during the major part of the disease (Alessi 1991, Gallo et al. 1991). It may well be that the circumstances are the same in Sweden. No studies, however, have been located. Usually demented people who stay at home are cared for by their own families (Dellasega 1991) and this is known to cause strain on the family caregiver (Given et al. 1990, Pushkar Gold et al. 1995). The family caregiver also seems to benefit from increased satisfaction and self-esteem related to taking on and carrying through the responsibility for their demented family member and they do not necessarily worry about their demented next of kin, as they tend to do if the demented becomes institutionalized (cf Stephens et al. 1991). On the other hand the family caregiver may suffer from social and affective limitations in his/her life especially at the beginning of the next of kin’s disease (Grafstrom et al. 1992) and Saveman et al. (1993) show that there is a risk of abuse of elderly people in informal care. Home care staff may have the opportunity to relieve such strain.(Olsson and Hallberg 1998)
(Olsson and Hallberg 1998)
Research on outcomes in supported housing has been very limited and most published studies are descriptive, rather than evaluative. Cost-effectiveness has generally not been investigated. The outcomes most commonly evaluated are satisfaction and quality of life.
A recent GOSW research review has concluded that:
§ There are some beneficial effects of supported housing, particularly in relation to quality of life that could lead to improved health;
§ There is a lack of research into health related outcomes, such as re-admission rates or clinical symptoms;
§ The objective of promoting independence, as stated in the South West Regional Housing Strategy, should be assessed formally;
§ There is a need for formal evaluation of supported housing schemes to ensure that the projects meet the needs of the clients and the wider population.
In the area of knowledge management, many studies have been devoted to investigating how to design an effective knowledge-sharing system in organizations. These studies emphasized the importance of various aspects to the success of the knowledge-sharing system and provided us with hints concerning what critical factors we should consider in the design of a knowledge-sharing system for group learning. In this study, we aim at exploring the critical components of a successful knowledge-sharing system and influential aspects we should consider in the design of a system for group learning. To achieve this task, we conducted an experiment during a semester-long course. The participants in the experiment were the final-year undergraduate students of a business school in Hong Kong. Finally, several factors important to the success of a knowledge-sharing system were identified. Implications for teaching and learning were also provided.
Knowledge sharing, group learning, critical success factor
Knowledge sharing among students is believed to be an effective approach to facilitate studying and improve their academic performance. Therefore, how we should carry out successful knowledge sharing in the classroom is a meaningful topic and should be given some attention. To build a knowledge-sharing system is an approach worthy of effort in conducting effective knowledge sharing in school. However, which system aspects merit consideration is still a problem under investigation. Based on previous research, the present study explores potential factors that are important to a successful knowledge-sharing system and discusses some implications for academic teaching and learning.
In the area of knowledge management, many studies have been done to investigate how to establish an efficient system for sharing knowledge in organizations. These studies emphasized the importance of various aspects to the success of knowledge sharing system. For example, Almeida et al’s study (2002) emphasized the availability of multiple mechanisms, formal and informal, to share and transfer knowledge so as to flexibly and simultaneously move, integrate and develop technical knowledge. Besides, the organizational culture that is capable of supporting the flow of knowledge was also addressed as an important factor. Another study by Nelson and Cooprider (1996) empirically tested the relationships between IS performance and mutual trust and influence among IS groups and their line customers. They found that mutual trust can facilitate knowledge sharing and can then increase shared knowledge. Bryant’s paper (2003) mainly studied the role of leadership in organizational knowledge management by comparing the effect of transformational leadership and transactional leadership on knowledge sharing. The involvement of high technology in knowledge sharing is addressed by Huber’s study (2001) that claimed that some of the barriers to knowledge sharing can to a certain extent be raised by utilizing appropriate technologies.
A few studies noted the role of motivation in knowledge sharing. Most of them discussed the different effects of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation on knowledge sharing. It was believed that extrinsic motivation is a short-term approach and cannot create a lasting commitment to sharing knowledge (Kohn, 1993). Moreover, extrinsic motivation is also inappropriate if the knowledge shared is mainly tacit in nature (Osterloh et al., 2000). In Hansen’s paper (2002), the results showed that project teams who could conveniently access related knowledge from other units by virtue of pre-existing relationships could complete their projects faster than those who failed to do so. Thus, pre-existing relationships are also a facilitating factor due to their shortening the path among units who possess related knowledge. Lastly, a common language is also believed essential for effective knowledge sharing so that knowledge producers and recipients can achieve fluent and accurate communication in exchanging ideas and knowledge (Ali, 2001).
For this study, we planned an experiment that was conducted during a course and lasted for whole semester. The participants in the experiment were the final-year undergraduate students of a business school. For the purposes of this experiment, we separated all students into different groups with each group consisting of five to six students. We then assigned relevant project topics to different groups and asked them to finish the projects by the end of semester. At the beginning, we counseled the participants that sharing knowledge is an effective way of improving performance and encouraged them to share their knowledge with their group mates as much as possible during the projects.
A questionnaire was designed to test the participants’ perceptions concerning knowledge sharing based on their experience acquired in the group projects. The questionnaire consisted of two parts. In the first part, we selected eight factors based on past studies, including knowledge-friendly culture, motivational practices, multiple available channels, leader supportiveness, trust, pre-existing relationship, common language and level of technology. Participants were asked to indicate the extent to which each of these factors is important to the success of knowledge sharing. The second part had four items: Email, Knowledge repository, Face-to-face (F2F) meeting and Formal seminar. We ask participants to indicate the frequency with which they used each of the above methods to share knowledge with their group mates. We distributed the questionnaire to 91 students in a course and finally obtained 75 usable samples for further data analysis.
The mean, max and min values for each of the eight variables in the first part are summarized in Table 1. In addition, we conducted a series of paired t-tests to statistically compare every possible pair of means. Based on the results of the t-test (Table 2), we categorized the eight factors into five different groups: knowledge-friendly culture and motivational practices, multiple available channels and leader supportiveness, trust, pre-existing relationship and common language, and, lastly, level of technology.
Trust Culture Motivation Channels Leader Relation Language Tech
MEAN 6.04 5.84 5.76 5.52 5.51 5.12 5.27 4.71
MAX 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
MIN 3 4 4 3 4 3 3 1
Importance MAX ———————————————————————————— MIN
Table 1. Results of the first part
Motivation 2.71 0.92
Channels 4.36 2.66 2.31
Leader 5.18 3.42 2.32 0.12
Relation 6.54 6.11 5.16 2.95 3.04
Language 6.31 4.22 3.66 1.98 1.96 0.95
Tech 9.28 8.41 6.83 5.03 5.73 2.70 3.50
t-value Trust Culture Motivation Channels Leader Relation Language Table 2. Results of paired t-test ( p < .05)
In each above group that contains more than one factor, the factors are not statistically different from each other. For example, the knowledge-friendly-culture factor is perceived as equally important as the factor on motivational practice. We then prioritized these five groups in terms of their importance to the success of knowledge sharing by comparing their mean level. Obviously, building trust is the most important factor and the level of technology the least, as shown in Table 1.
The mean, max and min values of the second part of the dataset are exhibited in Table 3. We also worked out the percentage of responses that rated the item more than 4 points. By referring to this percentage and checking the corresponding mean values, we can obtain information concerning how many of participants at least frequently used each method to share their knowledge with others. To conclude, F2F meeting is the most frequently used approach to sharing knowledge. Formal seminars, on the contrary, were the least used.
F2F Email Repository Seminar
MEAN 5.83 5.41 4.48 3.00
MAX 7 7 7 7
MIN 4 2 2 1
Frequent Usage 94.7% 85.3% 46.7% 21.3%
Table 3. Data of the second part
Our study has essential implications for course teaching and learning. Our study suggests that in order to facilitate knowledge sharing among students, building trusting relationships is the first and most important step to take. Such trust can be built and strengthened via gradual mutual understanding. Therefore, there should be various opportunities and occasions for students to get to know each other. In this way, improved trust due to good understanding can raise the psychological barriers to communication and can then increase the students’ willingness to share knowledge. Moreover, a healthy culture should be fostered among students that learning from others and sharing what you know with others is the right thing to do and an effective way of improving study. In this arena, instructors play a particularly critical role. As for the sharing activity itself, increasing interactive communication between students is still an ideal way of proceeding. Whether in class or after class, students should be provided with adequate opportunities for face-to-face discussions without the presence of instructors so that they can actively share knowledge during these discussions. Frequent formal seminars are not an effective approach for sharing knowledge because they hardly communicate with each other to exchange opinions and thoughts during the seminars.
Ali, Y. (2001). The intranet and the management of making and using skills. Journal of Knowledge Management, 5, 338-348.
Almeida, P., Song, J. and Grant, R. M. (2002). Are firms superior to alliances and markets? An empirical test of cross-border knowledge building. Organization Science, 13, 147-161.
Bryant, S. E. (2003). The role of transformational and transactional leadership in creating, sharing and exploiting organizational knowledge. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9, 32-44.
Hansen, M. T. (2002). Knowledge networks: Explaining effective knowledge sharing in multiunit companies. Organization Science, 13, 232-248.
Huber, G. P. (2001). Transfer of knowledge in knowledge management systems: unexplored issues and suggested studies. European Journal of Information Systems, 10, 72-79.
Kohn, A. (1993). Why incentive plans cannot work. Harvard Business Review, 71,54-63.
Nelson, K. M. and J. G. Cooprider (1996). The contribution of shared knowledge to IS group performance. MIS Quarterly, 20, 409-432.
Osterloh, M. and Frey, B. S. (2000). Motivation, knowledge transfer, and organizational forms. Organization Science, 11, 538-550.
Knowing in Community:
10 Critical Success Factors in Building Communities of Practice
The Limits of Knowledge Management
Many companies are discovering that the real gold in knowledge management is not in distributing documents or combining databases. In the last few years many companies have used the internet and other new information technology to link professionals across the globe to share documents or compare data. But many are discovering that the real value in knowledge management is in sharing ideas and insights that are not documented and hard to articulate. This undocumented, hard-to-articulate knowledge is what has been called tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1958). A group of systems designers for a computer company tried to share their knowledge by storing their documentation for client systems in a common database. They soon discovered that they did not need each other’s documentation. They needed to understand the logic other system designers used — why that software, with that hardware and that type of service plan. They needed to understand the thinking of the other system designers. A petrophysicist trying to interpret unusual data from a deep sea oil well needed help from a colleague who had seen similar anomalies and could help him think through how to interpret it. Only in the course of the discussion were they able to understand the anomaly. A geologist faced with an array of new seismic tools needed to know which would be most useful in his particular application. A product development team at an auto company found through their internet that another development team had developed and rejected a design ideas similar to one they were considering. They needed to understand the reasons for the rejection and get feedback from the other team on the approach they were considering. A sales manager working with a particularly difficult client needed to know how sales managers for other product lines had dealt with that client. In all these cases people needed tacit knowledge; knowledge that was not documented, that their peers had never previously articulated, and that needed to be thought about to be shared (McDermott, 1999a).
Using typical knowledge management methods to leverage tacit knowledge often results in information junkyards and empty libraries. At the heart of most knowledge management efforts is an attempt to document and share information, ideas and insights so they can be organized, managed and shared. But documenting tacit knowledge frequently does more harm than good. When a major computer company first introduced its knowledge site, it asked field engineers to place their files in a common database. But, like many other companies, this company soon discovered that their staff did not want to hunt through many, redundant entries. As one engineer said, “My own file cabinet is bad enough, why would I want look through everyone else’s file cabinet.” Rather than a resource, the company had created an information junkyard, full of potentially good material that was too much trouble to sort through. The field engineers wanted someone familiar with their discipline to assess the material, decide what is important and to enrich the documents in the database by summarizing, combining, contrasting, and integrating them. This would make the junkyard useful. Another company instructed their professional staff to document key work processes so others could easily learn from them. Most staff felt their work was too varied to capture in a set of procedures, but eventually they completed the task. Within a year the database was populated, but little used, an empty library. Most people found the information to be too general to be useful. The help they needed was still in the experience — the tacit knowledge — of their peers.
Communities of Practice Leverage Thinking
Ironically one of the oldest elements of organization is key to leveraging tacit knowledge, communities of practice. Communities of practice are groups of people who share information, insight, experience, and tools about an area of common interest (Wenger, 1998). A community’s focus could be on a professional discipline — like reservoir engineering or biology — a skill — like machine repair — or a topic — like a technology, an industry, or a segment of a production process. In a manufacturing company, for example, communities were formed around steps in the production process. Shell Oil Co.’s New Orleans operation, which is organized into cross-functional teams, formed them around key disciplines and topics that cross individual teams. Communities of practice have always been part of the informal structure of organizations. They form spontaneously as people seek help, try to solve problems, develop new ideas and approaches. Some say that spontaneous communities of practice have always been the real vehicle through which technical knowledge spreads through organizations. Spontaneous communities of practice are informal. People participate in them as their interest, time and energy dictates. Although they usually gel around a particular topic or domain, the specific issues they focus on change over time, as the needs and interests of their members change.
Communities are held together by passionate interest and value. Communities of practice frequently form around topics community members have invested many years in developing; topics they are often passionately interested in, a science, a craft or a manufacturing process. But communities of practice are not just celebrations of common interest. They focus on practical aspects of a practice, everyday problems, new tools, developments in the field, things that work and don’t. So people participate because the community provides value. Community members frequently turn to each other to help solve technical problems, like interpreting anomalous data. Because they are often linked, not only to each other but also to suppliers, universities and others outside their organization communities of practice, they often keep members informed of new developments in the field. Because community members share a common technical interest, they can share ideas and concerns with others who really understand. And praise from community members is often the most meaningful because technical peers really understand the difficulty of the work or the brilliance of an analysis. As a result, people often have a great deal of their professional identity tied up in their communities.
Communities of practice link people in many ways. Communities frequently link people with a common interest who do not have regular day-to-day contact. For example, in Shell Oil’s New Orleans operation, communities link people who work on different teams. In this double knit organization (McDermott, 1999b) teams are the core organizational structure. Communities form around technical disciplines and topics that draw people from many teams. Each community operates in its own way, but the Turbodudes community is fairly typical. The Turbodudes draw people from different disciplines (geology, geophysics, petrophysics, reservoir engineering) who are interested in a particular kind of geological structure common in the Gulf of Mexico, turbidites. The Turbodudes stay together through five key components: a coordinator, mentors, a weekly meeting, presentations by outside vendors, and a website that stores topics discussed at previous meetings. For the last two years the Turbodudes have met every Tuesday at 7:30 in the morning, before the other organizational meetings begin. Typically twenty to forty people come to the meetings. While there are often many new faces at the meetings, there is a core group of ten high-contributors who make most of the meetings. The meetings seem very informal. The coordinator asks who has a question or problem. After a short presentation, others offer their observations, describing the logic or assumptions they made in formulating those observations. A technical specialist takes notes on her computer. The following day meeting notes are posted on the community’s website. While the meeting only lasts an hour, people often leave in small groups hotly engaged in discussions of the meeting’s topic. But these meetings are not as informal as they seem. Between meetings the coordinator “walks the halls” connecting people with others who share similar concerns, following up on the meetings topics, and finding topics for the next meeting. To keep discussions focused on cutting edge topics and to keep senior community leaders engaged, the community developed a mentorship program for people new to the field. The mentorship program provides an avenue for basic questions and distributes the job of educating new community members in an equitably.
Communities thrive on trust. One of the main dynamics of the Turbodudes and many other communities of practice is that members ask for and offer help solving technical problems. Regularly helping each other makes it easier for community members to show their weak spots and learn together in the “public space” of the community. Having frank and supportive discussions of real problems frequently builds a greater sense of connection and trust between community members. As they share ideas and experiences, community members often develop a shared way of doing things, a set of common practices, and a greater sense of common purpose. Sometimes they formalize these in guidelines and standards, but often they simply remain “what everybody knows” about good practice. In the course of helping each other, sharing ideas, and collectively solving problems, “everybody” often becomes a trusted group of peers.
Communities of practice are ideal vehicles for leveraging tacit knowledge because they enable person-to-person interaction and engage a whole group in advancing their field of practice. As a result, they can spread the insight from that collaborative thinking across the whole organization
Critical Success Factors for Community Building
Communities of practice are a new/old kind of organizational form. Even though communities of practice have been part of organizations for many generations, we have only recently begun to understand their dynamics and tried to intentionally develop them. Because they are organic, driven by the value they provide to members, organized around changing topics, and bound by people’s sense of connection, they are very different from teams and other organizational forms most of us are familiar with (McDermott, 1999b; Wenger & Snyder, 2000). The challenges they pose and the factors in making them successful are also different.
There are four key challenges in starting and supporting communities capable of sharing tacit knowledge and thinking together. The management challenge is to communicate that the organization truly values sharing knowledge. The community challenge is to create real value for community members and insure that the community shares cutting edge thinking, rather than sophisticated copying. The technical challenge is to design human and information systems that not only make information available but help community members think together. And the personal challenge is to be open to the ideas of others and maintain a thirst for developing the community’s practice.
Ten factors, dealing with each of these challenges, are critical to the success of communities of practice. Without them, communities tend to flounder or fail.
Critical Success Factors in Building Community Management Challenge
1. Focus on topics important to the business and community members.
2. Find a well-respected community member to coordinate the community.
3. Make sure people have time and encouragement to participate.
4. Build on the core values of the organization.
5. Get key thought leaders involved.
6. Build personal relationships among community members.
7. Develop an active passionate core group.
8. Create forums for thinking together as well as systems for sharing information.
9. Make it easy to contribute and access the community’s knowledge and practices.
10. Create real dialogue about cutting edge issues.
The Management Challenge
Knowledge management, like total quality and reengineering has become the latest of management fads. Many professionals have found that if they just keep their heads low they can escape the extra work and impact of these fads. With so many pressures drawing on their time, it is often hard to get the attention of professional staff. Four factors can communicate that management really does support knowledge-sharing communities.
1. Focus on knowledge important to both the business and the people.
To show that communities of practice are important, form them around topics at the heart of the business, where leveraging knowledge will have a significant financial or competitive impact. Communities of practice at Shell, a very technically oriented company, started around technical topics. At a manufacturing company, we formed the first communities around major steps of the manufacturing process
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