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Banham, G P (2009) Improving knowledge retention and use in construction project team environments: a soft systems methodology approach, Unpublished PhD Thesis, School of Management, University of Surrey.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: knowledge management; project team
  • URL: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/2815/
  • Abstract:
    This study provides an understanding and identification of knowledge management challenges in project teams within a single organization. Identification of challenges has generated discussion and recommendations are put forward for improving the level of knowledge management within the organization. This information is useful to those who are involved in knowledge management in project environments in construction; equally, the methodology can be applied to other types of project teams. The study provides interesting results, as multiple issues emerge based on how people view both their individual and collective actions on the project. Recommendations are considered as a business improvement project with a focus on culture change and process management rather than technology, which facilitates some of the changes. The study was carried out between September 2005 and December 2007. An executive summary containing recommendations is available to senior management of the organization and is attached as Appendix A. The benefits are the identification of what is needed to support overall organizational goals, individual and project team activities leading to improvements in processes. This information can be of importance for other construction project environments operating under similar circumstances. To explore how knowledge management is used within the project team this thesis followed a soft systems methodology in order to understand the situation and provide recommendations for improvement. This methodology encourages debate and discussion helping to raise awareness as to how knowledge management can help the aims of the organization. The research is a qualitative study of a single organization comprising departments in Germany and the UK. This includes project site offices in the UK covering a selection of personnel who have been involved in recent UK projects. Data collection has involved documentary review, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, using the soft systems methodology to analyse and present discussion. Stakeholder interviews covered a range of advisors, managers, department heads, directors, engineers, commercial and site personnel. The knowledge audit revealed that experience can be shared more effectively, knowledge was not being captured at project or organization level and that there was poor information and knowledge storage and retrieval means. Recommendations are put forward encouraging the active involvement of all departments to contribute and share ideas and project information allowing feedback on projects and organization work. The strategy for this change will be driven by the business objectives in order to become embedded in the day-to-day work of the organization. By following a strategy and valuing knowledge then the possibility of capture and reuse of knowledge is enhanced. This infrastructure helps to minimise the frustration that a knowledge worker can experience in an unsupported environment.