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Perceptions of SMEs on Implementing Knowledge Management

Chapter 1.   Implications, Recommendations and Conclusions

1.1        Introduction

The challenge of chronic organisational issues facing Nigerian universities has resulted in ineffective KM and an inability to act as drivers of innovation in a learning society (Agabi et al., 2015; Ojo, 2016). In this study, KM is defined by Dalkir (2009), as the “deliberate and systematic coordination of an organisation’s people, technology, processes, and organisational structure to add value through reuse and innovation” (p. 3132). This definition implies that KM is attained through creating, sharing, and applying knowledge, as well as through feeding best practices and the valuable lessons learned into corporate memory, all aimed at fostering continuous organisational learning and development.

The purpose of this qualitative, multiple case study was two-fold:

  1. To document and describe the perceptions of SMEs on how KM can be effectively infused within Nigerian universities.
  2. To empirically investigate the six drivers needed for efficient KM from the conceptual model for KM practices in universities (Ojo, 2016).

The six major drivers needed for effective and efficient KM (Ojo, 2016) are:

  • Organisational culture.
  • Leadership.
  • Information technology (IT).
  • Reward mechanism.
  • Social capital.
  • Performance Measurement.

This framework was designed specifically for the higher education setting, making it highly relevant to this research study (Bencsik, 2016).

A gap in the literature was identified regarding empirical studies to evaluate the drivers of efficient KM in Nigerian universities. It would be challenging to arrive at conclusive and convincing results regarding the ability of Nigerian universities to create efficient knowledge flow and management within their organisations without such empirical validation of KM drivers outlined in the conceptual model (Ojo, 2016). Due to this identified gap, an inductive study approach was adopted for this research, which implies following theoretical assumptions with an open mind to develop a new theory (Bryman & Bell, 2010). This approach was chosen since the argument of the study is based on a conceptual framework on KM and its role in leadership and management effectiveness (Gururajan & Fink, 2010; Serenko, Bontis, Booker, Sadeddin, & Hardie, 2010).

Qualitative research explores the world of a given context from the viewpoint of the people living in it and is associated with the interpretive paradigm (Cooper & White, 2012). Willis (2007) indicated that “interpretivism tends to favour qualitative methods such as case studies and ethnography.” (p. 90) The interpretive paradigm relies on naturalistic methods such as in-depth interviews, observation, and analysis of existing texts (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). However, as noted by Eisenhardt, 1989., p.23… “theory building from a case-study gathering data from multiple and separate participants can create theoretical constructs, propositions, and/or midrange theory from case-based empirical evidence”. Data collected in this study has provided adequate material for the researcher to extend the application of the cross-case synthesis method in analysing divergent and convergent views. In addition, an in-depth literature review combined with semi-structured interview questions and the perceptions of SMEs provided further insight into the complexities of the chronic organisational challenges facing universities in Nigeria. These insights have further revealed what has resulted from the lack of systemic and effective KM strategies within the HEIs.

The study employed a descriptive, multiple-case study research design. The researcher accessed multiple sources to get access to the most relevant data (Yin, 2017). A purposeful snowball, small sample method was prepared with the help of homogeneous participants (Patton, 2014). As noted by Merriam & Tisdell (2015), snowball sampling allows for asking survey participants who meet the inclusion criteria to refer others who also meet the criteria. The researcher conducted ten interviews with university lecturers and administrators, who constitute the survey participants as the unit of analysis. The criteria used for recruitment of participants in this study were as follows:

  1. An adult over the age of 18.
  2. An academic scholar who has conducted and published in-depth research on KM in higher education.
  3. Peer-reviewed academic journals in English language.
  4. Holder of an affiliation with a research university.

1.2        Implications

5.2.1 Research Questions

Discuss each research question and (when appropriate) hypothesis individually, and draw logical conclusions.  Note: support all conclusions with the research findings and avoid drawing conclusions that are beyond the scope of the study results. 

The participants’ responses to the research questions provided insights into the study’s two main questions and were analysed thematically for both consistent and divergent views. This thematic analysis was synthesized with data from the existing literature, the investigator triangulation process, and the researcher’s observational field notes to provide an answer to the research questions. In the Nigerian context, only a few studies have examined the KM processes at the university level.

These points emphasise that KM is a valuable tool that could help HEIs achieve their desired competitive edge and simultaneously improve performance and innovation in the universities. However, these studies did not conclude that there is a need to establish a strategy in order to achieve these outcomes. Recent studies within the Nigerian context suggest that there are no conscious strategies in place for applying KM: this shortcoming is the driver for creating the proposed conceptual model.

The findings outlined in Chapter 4 presented six themes that respond to Research Question 1 and five additional themes that respond to Research Question 2. The key findings from the Research Questions are set out below.

1.2.1        Question 1 – Organisational Culture

RQ1:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the organisational culture needed for efficient knowledge management?

The first discovery on RQ1 is that the complexity of challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to the development of organisational culture needed for efficient knowledge management is the lack of a conducive environment for interacting, sharing, and transferring knowledge between and amongst members of the university. In addition, there is equally the prevailing culture of hoarding information which breeds individualism that results in a general lack of networking opportunities. Policy formulation is also another major challenge in the universities, and  this arises from the fact that the policies are not the same or similar in all universities. Some are strong, while others are weak and cannot measure up to creating an efficient KM system. All ten participants agreed on the issues mentioned above.

Organisational culture as defined in this study is the way in which members of an organisation relate to each other, their work and the outside world in comparison to other organisations (Hofstede, 2018) which can enable or hinder an organisation’s strategy.In this context, organisational culture could be compared to a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organisations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organisation and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs. The participants shared varying perceptions about developing the organisational culture needed in Nigerian universities to begin the process of effective KM.

The organisational culture of universities are the values and beliefs that are responsible for how and what happens in the system (Green & Stankosky, 2010).  They create a strong influence not only on how people behave, but also on how things are done within the institution (Sunassee & Sewry, 2002). It is important to mention that culture varies among universities which could be as a result of their geographical location, traditional/cultural beliefs, mode of management and administration or policy formulations. This variation is not surprising as there are more than 40 federal universities, 44 state universities and 74 private universities that are all approved by the NUC (NUC, 2017). According to the NUC, there are three broad ownership categories of Nigerian universities: federal, state government and the private sector. This revelation makes for a profound conclusion in the Nigeria universities context that cultural matters are integral parts of the lives academics lead. If human development can be seen as an enhancement of living standards, then efforts geared to development in any country, in this case, Nigeria, can hardly ignore the world of culture. (Sen, 1999, p.18)

1.2.2        Question 2 – Leadership

RQ2:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the leadership needed for efficient knowledge management?

Most participants agreed that the greatest challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the leadership needed for efficient KM is nepotism and favouritism.  These vices are prevalent, especially as result of a federal character that places the statutory requirement of equal representation on every geopolitical zone of the country irrespective of capability/capacity. These challenges have bedevilled and eaten deep into the fabric of the university system, such that leaders who are meant to uphold and implement anti-corruption policies are the ones at the top of the violation list. For instance, requirements to secure admission and even employment into northern universities in Nigeria is largely at variance with the expectations from the southern or western part of the country; yet, all students are expected to face the same labour market at some point in the future.

More challenging, according to some of the participants, is the fact that the leadership structure in the Nigerian university has been subjected to the whims and caprices of the federal government in the case of the federal universities, state governments in the case of the state public universities, and proprietors in case of private universities. To some extent, the state unions exert an influence in the case of public universities.  It is indeed in very few cases that merit, knowledge of the job, ability to perform and vision to develop the universities are essential and considered favourably when the leadership of the university is being considered.

Lack of succession planning is another challenge facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the leadership needed for efficient KM. The absence of institutional mechanisms for driving a succession agenda often results in the erosion of systemic processes and, in turn, this breeds a survivalist culture and personalisation of leadership which often revolves around individuals. The institutions often lack the culture to establish a leadership succession order. Leadership succession is politicised, and so succession becomes the preserve of the survivalist and the concomitant personalisation of the institution such that mediocrity and sycophancy are the order of the day.

1.2.3        Question 3 – Information Technology

RQ3:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the information technology needed for efficient knowledge management?

All the participants agreed that it is empirically judicious to conclude that one of the challenges facing Nigerian universities is the lack of efficient information technology system to enable the effective use of KM. IT generally provides the platform for knowledge development across sectors and is a key enabler for sustainable human development. In a university setting, however, apart from having a repository containing subject experts by their specialisation, the study participant agreed that there is a need for a repository of academic and administrative activities which should support the essence of knowledge identification. The encapsulated knowledge repository facilitated by modern IT system may be consulted as the need arises. As highlighted by Kidwell et al. (2000), a university should have a repository of research interests, faculty’s research outputs, curriculum revision efforts, students’ evaluation techniques, and data related to accountability, among others.

The findings further showed that the lack of tailored organisational culture, types of leadership employed within the universities environment, the social capital that currently exists and the capacity for critical thinking among others, are the main challenges facing Nigerian universities in relations to developing the IT systems needed for efficient KM. It has been established that when information is shared, it results in multiplication such that in the Nigerian universities context, the study shows that it has created another challenge of how to manage the multiplication process in the absence of the IT infrastructure needed for efficient KM. Another discovery in this study is the inadequacy of financial resources which, in turn, inhibits the availability of adequate IT facilities and lies behind the insufficient quantum of trained personnel and insufficient IT infrastructure.

Scholars have highlighted that universities should apply KM to improving teaching, learning and research processes (Bhusry et al., 2011; Brewer & Brewer, 2010; Kidwell et al., 2000). Participants agree that KM is the process of creating, capturing and using knowledge to enhance organisational performance (Bassie, 1997).

The challenges surrounding IT have really affected the realisation of an efficient KM system in many universities, and the issue can only be rectified if creative and innovative minds are put in charge of the systems. It is equally important that those in charge of managing the leadership of Nigerian universities should be entrepreneurial in their disposition as against their current conservatism that merely follows the rules.  Some universities have not come to terms with the knowledge sharing which is an integral part of today’s technology, but they must now do so. They will also need to address the lack of computer literate lecturers and IT experts who would support and manage Internet connectivity and/or application of computing in the teaching-learning process.

1.2.4        Question 4 – Reward Mechanism

RQ4:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the reward mechanism needed for efficient knowledge management?

All participants agreed that a suitable reward mechanism is needed to facilitate efficient knowledge management, but it became evident that this is absent in many Nigerian universities. Among the challenges standing as a deterrent to developing a reward mechanism, is the misappropriation of funds set aside for this purpose by non-visionary leaders who lack the institutional structures needed for achieving the needed efficient KM strategies. Instead of being rewarded, staff are frustrated and this results in various protests and negative campaigns and even a complete shut down in some cases. Generally, there is little or no mechanism for the reward of research and academic activities in most Nigerian universities. Five participants agreed that a suitable reward mechanism is needed to facilitate efficient KM, but felt that this is lacking in many Nigerian universities. Other SME participants further eluded to the fact that it is crucial for universities to establish and implement better reward systems which serve as a motivation to complement the efforts of the few staff who are putting the efforts into developing an efficient KM system within the universities. The lack of an institutional framework for a reward system means that, reward is sometimes determined by those loyal to the leader rather than by the institution.

There is factual evidence that Nigerian university workers cannot effectively compete in the national and global marketplace. Unfortunately, Nigeria has been characterised, with some justification, as a dinosaur. For these reasons, Nigerian university workers are waiting for a leader capable of developing novel solutions to the most urgent problems of a sound reward mechanism needed for efficient KM. Generally, there is little or no mechanism for the reward of research and academic activities in most Nigerian universities. Though there is a limited percentage of funds that are earmarked for those who attract research grants and similar inflow of investments into the universities, there is no clear-cut reward mechanism for outstanding contribution to knowledge, and therefore impact on the efficient implementation of KM strategies.

1.2.5        Question 5 – Social Capital

RQ5:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the social capital needed for efficient knowledge management?

The challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the social capital needed for efficient KM include lack of trust, honesty, sincerity, morality, social networks and other societal and moral values that facilitate collaborative interaction. Scholars in Nigerian universities have contributed immensely to the understanding of the logic behind collective activities in the Nigerian universities which has led to lack of a reward system for KM and the formation of working social capital.

Some SMEs who participated are of the view that the challenges facing Nigerian universities in developing the social capital needed for efficient KM are very difficult to identify because, in any organisation, different dimensions of social capacity will require different kinds of development efforts and sharing needs. Serenko and Dumay (2015, p. 1345) confirm the importance of knowledge sharing [transfer] by stating that “a positive knowledge-sharing culture is required, which is a well-established fact in [KM] research”.

SMEs have defined social capital in this context as comprising people and the collaboration and cooperation needed to carry out social activities and efficient discharge of assigned responsibilities.  They also noted that trust and associability are vital ingredients of social capital. Social capital can, therefore, be described as the network of the relationship among people who live and work in a society (Nigerian universities) enabling the society to function effectively. For Nigerian universities, social capital may be viewed as an asset connected to certain level of staff or group of people. However, particular points emerged through the research in connection with developing social capital in practice:

  • Inconsistency in policy formulation and implementation and sometimes policy summersault is yet another limiting factor.  This does not breed the atmosphere for social capital to thrive as drivers for efficient and effective KM.
  • In the context of this research, social capital is a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central; transactions are marked by reciprocity and trust; and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for the common good.
  • Lack of maintenance culture of public properties, and also the lackadaisical attitude of personnel to maintaining public properties affect developing of sustainable social capital. Amongst the younger generation of Nigerians, they are already familiar with using all forms of electronic media for knowledge transfer.  It is unfortunate therefore that the old generation is yet to catch up.  The way out might be an increase in social awareness, which stresses the long-term economic advantages that are inherent in the implementation and use of modern KM systems.
  • The inability of the universities to develop the social capital on and off campus.  There appears no evidence to suggest Nigerian universities lack social capital, at least within their universities.  If it is with universities outside Nigeria, it is about access to information and the technology to connect.  Adequate training and retraining of faculty members on latest technology software, hardware etc might be an alternative route for the development.
  • Use of social media, E-Learning, Mobile Learning platforms.  This would enable effective interaction with other faculty members locally and globally and to also connect with the students they are teaching.  It is mostly acknowledged that the use of modern information technology is essential in any organisation network with dispersed members for social capital to thrive, Marshall, S., Boden, E., & Serpell, J. (2015).

It is worth observing that SMEs did not mention or attribute any recognition to the role that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) plays in the development of social capital in Nigerian universities as a tool for efficient and effective KM.  This is a union of all academic staff of Nigerian universities (state and federal); which is supposedly a unifying factor and pivotal to social capital growth and development. This further highlight the need for efficient KM system.

1.2.6        Question 6 – Performance Measurement

RQ6:  How do subject matter experts perceive the challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the performance measurement needed for efficient knowledge management?

The challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the performance measurement needed for efficient KM include inappropriate strategy, insufficient goals and objectives, lack of adequate measurement metrics, lack of stakeholder engagement, inadequate collaborative arrangements, and lack of resources among others.

SME participants agreed that performance measurements are needed in every organisation in order to account for various results such as productivity, efficiency and effectiveness (Yigitcanlar et al., 2007).  There were various suggestions by SMEs on how best to undertake performance measurement in the university such as performance appraisals, students filled performance questionnaires, conferences, etc.  These highlighted mechanisms are mostly not used in many universities and therefore it is almost impossible for performance to be measured. Particular points that were highlighted by the research are as follows:

  • Mindset. The staff who should take it upon themselves to inquire about their weaknesses and strengths and work hand-in-hand to improve performance should not be left out.  Performance measurement systems are generally required to make the benefits and the performance of KM initiative transparent (Ramachandran et al., 2013).  One SME participant sees this challenging hurdle as there appears no foreseeable way a Nigerian university will implement such KPI without a radical change in the mindset of the people.Therefore, the primary challenge here is a change in mindset.
  • Inappropriate Strategy.  The lack of an appropriate strategy for the development of performance management as a sine qua non for efficient KM has been highlighted by SME participants as well.  This underscores the lack of articulated goals and objectives of the universities, which are often not implemented by decision and policy makers.  This presents a huge challenge for KM as the absence of a coordinated strategy would negate an efficient and effective KM in HEIs in Nigeria (Ramachandran et al., 2013).  However, implementing a strategy requires a huge investment of financial resources, which is another challenge a number of HEIs are saddled with. As suggested by some SMEs, the challenge of a lack of financial resources may be approached subtly by a strategy of a collaborative arrangement with partner institutions that share resources based on the comparative advantage of each institution.
  • Non-sustainability of policies.  Foralmost a decade, Nigerian universities have been undergoing radical transformation due to the release of a plethora of inconsistent policies and legislative initiatives requiring their compliance. These policies demanded drastic changes in scope, nature and intensity of academic work, but have also subjected academic work to performance management and quality assessment.  SMEs have identified the Nigerian polity and institutions in particular as being responsible for many policy somersaults which is a significant challenge facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the performance measurement needed for efficient KM. With the differential implementation of policies and/or abandonment of standards as well as the improperly focused implementation of performance measurement, an efficient KM is a mirage.
  • The lack or absence of a baseline or database of knowledge available within the university.  With the breakdown of organisational structures and lack of systemic processes for organising knowledge available within Nigerian universities, developing the performance measurement needed for efficient KM is an illusion of reality.  If the database of knowledge available within a university is not structurally coordinated centrally for easy access by members of the academic community, performance measurement would be challenging to say the least.  Not only does it negate the quality of research conducted, but the process and responsibility of performance measurement are also abdicated to academic members by the university, which should otherwise be the undertaken by the latter in compliance with international best practices of KM in HEI.
  • Lack of monitoring and evaluation capacity in the academic community.  As noted above, the absence of a database of knowledge available in universities makes the responsibility of monitoring and evaluation challenges. With a lack of capacity for the monitoring and evaluation of personnel within HEIs, not only is KM not prioritised, it makes it challenging to implement and results in the lack of a system that would efficiently and effectively implement KM as performance measurement tool.  Overall, this research has also discovered that monitoring and evaluation tools are of importance to efficiently measure performance required for effective knowledge management.
  • Lack of adequate quality assurance:  The absence of a systemic quality assurance strategy as a core university mandate of teaching, research and community engagements is an associated challenge facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the performance measurement needed for efficient KM. SMEs have therefore suggested the need for adequate feedback mechanisms for evaluating the impact of knowledge given to students through students also evaluating their teachers.  As noted earlier, this appears to be an anathema to Nigerian students who often see lecturers as demigods whose authority cannot be challenged.  Decision makers would prefer the status quo aimed at entrenching their individuality at the expense of institutional values and ethos.
  • Publications of research work must be in highly rated journals.  This research has found that promotion in Nigerian universities is determined not by outstanding contributions to knowledge, but mere individual publication in peer-reviewed journals and similar outlets, though some of these journal publications identify knowledge contributions.  In a way performance in the universities is simply measured by the extent of the volume of journals and diversity of the type of journal published cumulatively.
  • External grant.  There is no evidence of reward by universities linked with the number of external grants that SMEs attract for research and development in its performance management for KM development. With a lack of value and importance placed on a robust reward system in place, it is challenging to measure the performance of staff that is tied to their promotion.
  • Performance measurement criteria are defective.  SMEs observed that performance measurement criteria are mostly based on academic paper writing and not on the impact of research on the society or its utilitarian contribution to society in general.  Performance measurement, particularly regarding Nigerian universities has not received enough attention from Government and policymakers.  Its contribution to enhancing institutional performance and quality appears to have been neglected.  Consequently, universities adopted a laissez-faire approach to performance measurement and thus operated on a high trust basis within an ethos that emphasised the independence of thought and scholarship, academic freedom and collegiality.  The high trust mode of operation, therefore, meant that Nigerian university staff were not closely monitored or assessed. This culture of trust devoid of systemic and structured performance management has made the external assessment of universities in Nigeria rank low in international rating. This issue is further exacerbated by the reality that Nigerian universities like any other organ of the state are expected to face:  the economic realities have become more market and consumer responsive to provide ‘value for money’ to its students and other stakeholders.

1.2.7        Question 7 – Open Question

There is an overwhelming focus on the generation of knowledge in Nigerian universities which is driven by a traditional culture of publishing research papers as the only basis for promotion. However, there is little focus on the utilisation, management and appropriation of knowledge. This issue is exacerbated when staff retire, and sometimes there is nobody to take over, and so the universities have to advertise for top cadre jobs. The universities lose their knowledge, a valuable asset, through such retirement.

For the infusion policy on effective knowledge management in Nigerian universities to work, the National Universities Commission (NUC) must in its regulatory policy ensure the development of a KM framework and then allow each university to adapt it to suit its context.

Participants felt that KM should be made the responsibility of individuals, groups, corporate bodies and government to improve the educational sector through efficient KM. Funding for such programmes should be made available by proprietors of universities, no matter the form of ownership: federal, state or private individuals or faith- and/or community-based ownership. In parallel, the establishment of a sustainable reward system by each university should be encouraged by the NUC to aid KM infusion. Improving policies and procedures, implementing new learning approaches, including e-learning, and enhancing the corporate staff will all be essential.

1.3        Limitations

Limitations were identified and addressed within the context of this study. The major limitation of this study was the small sample required in a qualitative multiple case study. However, it is from such studies that hypotheses can be generated for future quantitative studies, and existing theories and conceptual frameworks or models can be extended.  Another limitation depends on the selected SMEs agreeing to volunteer their time for the interviews, and that their current organisational environment may influence the sample population to answer in a particular way. A limitation, also, exists is the possible bias and interpretation of data. Nevertheless, bias and misinterpretations were limited, because each interview was digitally recorded and accurately transcribed to document participants’ responses (Jack & Raturi, 2006). Some of the participants volunteered to fill out the questionnaire directly which also eliminate possible misinterpretations.

The challenge of interview data is best mitigated by data collection and analysis approaches that limit bias (Arvanitis et al., 2015; Rowley, 2012). The data analysis technique of Yin’s (2017) cross-case synthesis, a technique used mainly with a multiple case study design, is consistent with the view that themes do not merely emerge from the data; the researcher is actively synthesising themes from the data set (Eriksson & Kovaleinen, 2011). This allows the identification of consistent themes where the participants agree, but also the contrast of opposing viewpoints. In this way, the study remains open to the emergence of multiple realities (Tracy, 2010). The limitations of this approach were acknowledged and mitigated to the greatest degree possible. The greatest limitation is the small sample size. This is dictated by the small number of SMEs available in the population who meet the inclusion criteria for sampling.  The purposeful sampling approach (when compared with random sampling) is open to the accusation of bias; however, random sampling has its usual limitations and does not lend itself to the identification of experts. A related limitation is the fact that the SMEs have been immersed in the phenomenon under study and will inevitably bring some personal biases to the study (Patton, 2015). This was mitigated by the researcher’s attempts to elicit contradicting rival interpretations of the topics discussed in the interviews while the researcher remained “neutral” during the interview process (Eriksson & Kovaleinen, 2011). Researcher bias was somewhat mitigated with the use of an audit trail, of transcripts and digital recordings, and investigator triangulation (Shenton, 2004).

1.4        Significant of the Research

This study’s original qualitative data extends Ojo’s (2016) Conceptual Model for Knowledge Management in Nigerian Universities.  Extension studies, such as the present study, not only provide replication evidence but also extend the results of prior studies in new and significant theoretical directions (Bonett, 2012). The research questions that were developed for this research are addressed through SME-based views and field notes-based views. The multiple case study approach makes theory-building possible through the process of considering multiple facets of an issue. This approach provides the ability to construct theories and propositions from the empirical data collected in the study of multiple cases (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). This study has answered questions raised regarding how to successfully infuse KM as a fundamental strategy in Nigeria universities system and clearly identified how different drivers can be used to improve their processes and established future opportunities to conduct further research on this particular issue.

Organisational Culture

A critical discovery for RQ1 was offered by Participants 1 and 2: the lack of creation of a trusted environment for interaction, for information sharing due to an information hoarding mentality, and the lack of knowledge transfer among faculty members within the universities due to fear of job security. A further discovery was an inappropriate mechanism to assess KM as a tool or strategy for development. A fundamental conclusion was the degree to which the cultural context is integral to the performance of Nigeria universities (Ohiorenoya, 2014). Available literature and studies on the phenomenon of organisational culture support the notion that it represents and in fact symbolises what an organisation, people or educational institutions stands for. Therefore, an organisational culture that is participatory will ensure that knowledge management systems and processes are inclusive, participatory and engaging prompting ingenuity, innovation, creativity and idea farming that can redraw the map of education in Nigeria.

Leadership

A central issue is the intrusion of politicians and community leaders in the appointment of Vice-Chancellors, this is another critical challenge eluded to by SME.  Leadership positions in Nigerian universities are filled politically, and most of the decisions that require objectivity are only accepted if they are politically correct! For instance, appointments for key leadership positions and decision makers are based on reasons of age and gender discrimination instead of an objective assessment of the required skill sets and experience, intellectual prowess and creative mindset. Suffice to say; there is an issue of lack of transformational leadership that can propel a change in organisational and knowledge management culture that hitherto endorsed the principle of transactional leadership rather than transformation of knowledge in all strata of the educational system in the country.

Information Technology

Although IT is considered in general terms a priority to all Nigerian institutions in their quest for efficient KM, the lack of the conscious effort needed to make IT function effectively as an essential tool to enable knowledge management has been the primary challenge they are grappling with. Other challenges facing Nigerian universities in relation to developing the IT needed for efficient knowledge management include inadequate competent workforce, the high cost of IT equipment, unfavourable government policies, epileptic power supply, erratic Internet access, and inadequate training and development opportunities.

Reward Mechanism

From these findings, it is concluded that the decision makers will first have to understand the strategic importance of KM before they could think about the control, or reward management aspect of it. We have to understand that rewarding people in the workplace have a lot to do with motivation, growth, personal satisfaction and personal fulfilment. Beyond all these, an appropriate institutionalised rewards system has the capacity to bring about employee participation and engagement. Engagement here goes beyond participation and involvement as it makes employees go beyond the call of duty, which is essential for motivation and leading effectively. Understandably, the Nigerian educational system lacks these ingredients that are instrumental in forging a whole new world of knowledge management. Intrinsic in reward system is knowledge sharing, which is an important factor in KM activities. In order to realise effective knowledge sharing, it is imperative to encourage employees for organisational survival. Therefore, articulating an effective reward mechanism or intra-organisational knowledge distribution in the Nigerian university system can help advance the discourse of KM. Thus, individualised reward system premised on the individual contribution of valuable knowledge as well as a group-based reward mechanism will propel knowledge sharing for high performance.

Social Capital

Trust and associability are key ingredients of social capital.  Given that a university consists of people who come together to achieve a set goal or common purpose, it is not an individualised institution. However, the fact that in many Nigerian university individuals want to be seen as independent achievers has been a foundational problem that has eaten deeply into the educational system. A university can only be run by a group of cooperating/undivided people who not only see it as a privilege to do some good but also a responsibility to improve the systems they use. There is, in particular, a need for cooperation and collaboration among people to improve the performance of KM systems.

Performance Measurement

Performance measurement regarding Nigerian universities has not received enough attention from government and policymakers, and its contribution to enhancing institutional performance and quality appears to have been neglected. This point is underscored by the lack of articulated goals and objectives of the universities, which are often not implemented by decision and policy makers.  Consequently, universities have adopted a laissez-faire approach to performance measurement. This issue presents a huge challenge for KM as the absence of a coordinated strategy would negate efficient and effective KM in HEIs in Nigeria.

The most pressing issue though is seen as a mindset, and there appears to be no feasible way a Nigerian university will implement performance management without a radical change in the mindset of the people.

NUC ???

KM is an essential part of the development of any university and because the central quality control and administrative structure of university system in Nigeria are through the NUC, immediate recognition of KM by this agency may go a long way to integrate KM into the Nigerian university system.

Summary

In summary, this study contributes to the original qualitative data on the state of KM in Nigerian universities as defined in the conceptual model for KM practices in universities (Ojo, 2016), which is grounded in Nonaka’s (1994) Dynamic Theory of Organisational Creation. This theory states that knowledge creation occurs as a result of the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge – “Tacit knowledge is highly personal, hard to formalise, and difficult to communicate to others. It is deeply rooted in action and in an individual’s commitment to a specific content. Explicit knowledge is the formal and systematic knowledge that can easily be captured, accessed, shared and transmitted in formal language.” (Ojo. 2016; p. 334).

1.5        Implications of the Study

The participants’ responses to the interview questions provided insights into the study’s six questions and were analysed thematically for both consistent and divergent views. This thematic analysis was synthesised with data from the extant literature, the investigator triangulation process, and the researcher’s observational field notes to provide answers to the research questions. The present study seeks to contribute in addition to answering the research questions posed; this study aims to contribute to the original qualitative data on the state of KM in Nigerian universities as defined in the conceptual model for KM practices in universities (Ojo, 2016).

Organisational Culture A well implemented KM strategy as a tool to harness the diverse cultures in Nigeria and in the universities that are homes to different cultural flavours, could serve as a strategic tool to change the dynamics and the negative narrative of cultural differences that exist among faculty members in the university environment in Nigeria (Siadat et al., 2012).

Leadership It is crucial for universities to place leaders through democratic processes where faculty are also part of the decision-making process at least on the committee level (McDaniel, 2017).  Such leaders should find themselves in positions where they can champion knowledge management processes through efficiently harnessing information technology tools.

Information Technology A university should have an organised repository of every element of knowledge considered valuable to its existence and performance. This repository could be in the form of functional corporate portals that are accessible to internal and external stakeholders, as deemed fit.  The challenges surrounding IT have affected the realisation of an efficient KM system in many universities and the issue can only be rectified if creative and innovative minds are put in charge of the systems.  It is equally important that those in charge of managing the leadership of Nigerian universities should be entrepreneurial in their disposition as against current conservatism.  Some universities have not come to terms with the knowledge sharing, but they must now do so. They will also need to address the lack of computer literate lecturers and ICT experts who would support and manage the Internet connectivity and/or application of computing in the teaching-learning process.

Reward Mechanism. It is crucial for universities to establish and implement improved reward systems which will serve as a motivation to complement the efforts of the few staffs who are putting all efforts into developing an efficient KM system.

Social Capital. For social capital to work, some of the structural dimensions or configurations need to be broken down in order to encourage and motivate the exchange and transfer of knowledge that will enhance the growth of intellectual capital. SMEs observed that the pandering to Western economic dictates through their Bretton Woods Economic Institutions (IMF and WorldBank) that the private sector must drive everything appears to negate the development of investment in social capital. Within universities, social capital needs to be viewed as an asset connected to certain groups of people through participating networks, norms and values, trust and also interrelationships.

Performance Measurement. Performance measurement systems are generally required to make the benefits and the performance of KM initiative transparent. It is hard to see how a Nigerian university could implement appropriate measures without the change in the mindset. This change includes students, who need to have a say in determining if the lecturers are performing up to expectation but who often see lecturers as demigods whose authority cannot be challenged.

Government, industry and academia KM can be used to create linkages between the triple helix of government, industry and academia as an avenue for solving national problems of interest. To do so, KM must be entire and all-embracing and not perceived only from academic perspectives. Raising KM to this level of contribution would require a high-level push driven by policy makers and senior management to effectively change the status quo and move Nigerian universities to implement effective KM. The role of the NUC will be critical in this respect.

1.6        Practical Utility

This study contributes to the original qualitative data on the state of KM in Nigerian universities as defined in the conceptual model for KM practices in universities (Ojo, 2016). The Ojo, (2016) model used in this research is an adaptation of Evans, Dalkir, and Bidian’s (2014) integrated KM model and is espoused because of the depth and comprehensiveness that each stage of the KM process examines.

The study brought to light clearly that KM is an indispensable part of the development of the universities. It is also revealed that, because of the central control of quality and administrative structure of the university system in Nigeria is through the NUC, immediate recognition of KM by this agency may go a long way to integrate this critical strategy or tools into the Nigerian university system. I believe for the infusion policy on effective KM in Nigerian universities to work, the NUC must in its regulatory policies ensure the development of a framework for doing so and then allow each university to domesticate and adapt this phenomenon to suit its context. The minimum criteria for the infusion policy should be:

  • KM should be able to handle or control brain drain syndrome.
  • KM should be able to store knowledge of retired senior academics for reuse
  •  KM should be able to handle knowledge developed at any university’s centre of Excellence (hub of knowledge) to share knowledge among several universities
  •  KM can be used to create linkages between the triple helix of government, industries and academia as an avenue of solving national problems of interest.

KM must be entire and all-embracing and not perceived only from academic perspectives. As a result of this, I suggest that every faculty member (staff and students) must undergo a psychometric assessment which will help them to explore their unique personality, increase their self-awareness and adapt their behaviours to improve the personal and professional relationship with their team members; this can include individual and collective intellectual assets that will help the universities to perform their task. With these interventions come regular changes of how university operates and change the mindset of its people and processes.

It should be made the responsibility of individuals, groups, corporate bodies and government to improve the educational sector through efficient KM. KM within any Nigerian University will be mostly about interventions in the organisation’ knowledge base.

Establishment of sustainable reward system by each university should be encouraged by NUC to aid such infusion.

There is a need for the public universities to become independent public organisations so that the problems of funding, which is at the heart of many issues here could be tackled.

Some Librarians and IT specialists need to be converted into active knowledge managers so that they can provide direction and leadership for knowledge management in the universities.

1.7        Recommendations

1.7.1        Application of the Study

Present all recommendations for practical applications of the study.  Note: support all recommendations with the research findings.

It is a plausible implementation of qualitative data from multiple case studies for the reason of enlightening theory or theoretical development (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). Discovery made in this study interpose in-depth understanding of the state of KM in Nigeria universities and the acknowledgement of the rise and pressures of new media and technologies is crucially essential for organisational survival in the contemporary world of any form of organisation: educational institutions or corporations.  IT has transformed the landscape of organisations in such a way that any organisation that does not pay attention to the challenges and potential advantages accruable from IT faces problems if not extinction (Ekpolomo, 2015). On the strength of this assertion, I propose a radical reform of Nigeria’s IT system, which can help in not only revamping KM, but also change the dynamics of education quality and substance in Nigeria. IT is a strong enabler of policy direction, knowledge dissemination and reception as well as sharing, which are critical success factors in knowledge management.  It also facilitates increased participation, engagement, alternative views and balanced debate. These factors are equally essential to knowledge management reform for a better university education outlook in Nigeria.

1.7.2        Recommendation for Future Research

One indisputable factor of the current study is that it is too early to conclude what the future of KM in Nigerian universities holds. Unique limitation of the current study is that it depends on academic SMEs to understand and appraise the subject under study. This study could be supported by analysing further additional case studies whose insights could be considered for future development on evaluating the effective and efficient implementation of KM centres across the universities and the role of government in establishing an academic autonomy for the Nigerian institutions. All of the participants have stated that the future of KM as well as the restructuring of the university system, is hard to determine as the sector need a total and urgent overhaul. The stated gaps would provide sufficient purpose to continue in pursuing further qualitative research in this case.

As time passes and a number of successful implementation of KM as a tool in different universities is completed, it will give an opportunity to conduct in-depth studies that will contribute to the qualitative method that has been used for this research as a proper method to gain an understanding of the present phenomenon. In the future, a broader number of participants as SMEs in current KM should be considered for future studies as it will give an opportunity to generalise participants’ responses as well as forming new themes. The Larger population of participants will generate a better outcome of similar research and lead to reliability as well as the credibility of future studies.

1.8        Conclusions

To provide answers to the research questions presented in this study, a qualitative multiple case study method has been implemented. This method is appropriate as this study focuses on analysing the drivers needed for effective and efficient KM system. This is considered an essential part of the development of Nigerian universities, and because of the central quality control and administrative structure of university system in Nigeria, through the NUC, immediate recognition of KM by this agency will go a long way to integrate KM into the Nigerian university system.

There is an overwhelming focus on the generation of knowledge in Nigerian universities which is driven by a traditional culture of publishing research papers as the only basis for promotion (which has led to a famous slogan among academics in Nigeria, “publish or perish”). However, evidence shows that there is little focus on the utilisation, management and appropriation of knowledge.

As this is a culture embedded in the fabric of the Nigerian University system, it would require a high-level push driven by policy and senior management to effectively change the status quo and move Nigerian universities to effective KM. It can be concluded that further studies will be required to evaluate each of the recommended drivers for effective and efficient KM implementation.



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