Studying the Knowledge Management Components from Viewpoint of the Faculty Members: A Study at the Dezful University of Medical Sciences in Southwest Iran

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Education Development Center, Dezful University of Medical Sciences, Dezful, Iran

2 Department of Education Development Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

Abstract

Background: Production, distribution and application of knowledge are considered as the most institutionalized element and raison d’être of universities and higher education institutions, and the knowledge is recognized as the main output of universities. Therefore, this research examines the components of knowledge management from the point of view of the faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences in southwestern Iran.
Methods: This descriptive research was conducted in 2018. The statistical population of this research included all faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences in southwest of Iran. Finally, 43 members of them completed questionnaires. The Knowledge Management Standard Questionnaire (Conrad and Newman) has been used to collect information. Descriptive and inferential statistics as well as SPSS version 22 were used to analyze the data.
Results: According to the results of the research, the scores of different components of knowledge management were evaluated to be moderate as follows: knowledge creation (21.5 ± 3.8), knowledge preservation (15.8 ± 3.8), knowledge transfer (11.5 ± 3.3), and knowledge application (12.1 ± 3.5). Also, age, educational level, academic rank and experience had no effect on their knowledge management, but male faculty members had higher knowledge management than female faculty members (P = 0.019).
Conclusion: The various components of knowledge management among faculty members were moderate according to our evaluation, which, given the 8-year activity of this university, is relatively "desirable"; it is necessary that this potential of knowledge management

Keywords

Main Subjects


Introduction

The term "knowledge management" was first used by Wig in 1986 (1). Since then, several definitions and patterns have been proposed for knowledge management (2). The KM process, based on the Newman and Conrad model, includes four dimensions: knowledge creation, knowledge application, knowledge transfer, and knowledge preservation (3). Organizations need to attempt for balancing knowledge management activities in order to transform knowledge into a capital good, but there are many barriers for creating and applying knowledge in organizations. The task of KM is to identify and remove these obstacles (4). Many organizations use knowledge management to capture the intellectual assets of employees. The key point of the knowledge management is that there is multiple knowledge of customers, processes, products and services available at all levels of the organization, and if this knowledge can be seized and transferred integrally, it will help organizations to be more successful and effective (5). Implementing KM projects first requires its cultural acceptance by the organization members and then their efforts to perform KM strategies. The need for guiding the faculty members while giving their worthy organizational and scientific place, seems necessary in both dimensions (6). The focus of the faculty members on managing knowledge will improve the performance of universities in knowledge management. On the other hand, the faculty members can have a considerable influence on the orientation and direction of knowledge-based activities. Production, distribution, and application of knowledge in universities and higher education institutions have been accepted as the most institutionalized element and raison d’être of these institutions, and knowledge is very important as the main output of universities (7). However, for reasons like distrust and personal interests, the employees are not often able or do not tend to share their knowledge and expertise with others (8-9). In the late 2017, Gilavand studied knowledge management at Iranian universities and described it as a very important competitive advantage that distinguishes universities from each other. Of course, he has concluded that universities can be more effective in furthering science through sharing knowledge and doing wider research (9). The results of the review of Karimi Moonaghi et al. in 2013, for assessing the status of knowledge management and its dimensions in medical sciences, showed that the staff of the faculty and non-faculty members and all beneficiaries of the health system tried to educate, learn, research and promote society’s health through creating, distributing and applying knowledge, while converting hidden knowledge to the obvious one and its application in clinical guides (10). The results of the study done by Bahrami et al. (2012) indicated that in order to investigate the relationship between total quality management and knowledge management from the viewpoint of faculty members of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, focusing on the customer, information analysis, strategic planning, and Process management made the mean of all criteria for TQM higher than the average level (11). The most important challenge of managing universities is identifying and combining two types of tacit and explicit knowledge that requires a creative and innovative approach to learning / teaching processes and the optimal use of modern technologies. But the absolute reliance on advanced technologies will be catastrophic. Faculty members should pay attention that the main priority is to increase the organizational efficiency that leads to mutual and collaborative communication (12). In 1985, medical education was merged with the Ministry of Health, and a new ministry was established under the name of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education (13). Given the managers' support for knowledge management practices, helping to create a knowledge-based culture, and creating synergies between faculty members can help develop knowledge management at universities. Also the awareness of faculty members of the extent of knowledge management can play an effective role in developing appropriate strategies in this regard. Therefore, the present research aimed to investigate the components of knowledge management from the viewpoints of faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences in southwestern Iran.

Methods

This cross-sectional descriptive research was conducted in 2018 at Dezful University of Medical Sciences in southwestern Iran. The statistical population of this research included all 74 faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences. The questionnaires were distributed by census sampling method. Finally, 43 members completed the questionnaires. Inclusion requirements for participating in study included the membership of the respondent as a faculty member of Dezful University of Medical Sciences. Exclusion criteria included dissatisfaction with participation in the study. The data collection method was the questionnaire, as well as the constitution of two parts of the demographic characteristics (age, sex, degree of education, academic degree and service record) and standard knowledge management questionnaire (Conrad and Newman). Initially, all participants completed written consent form for research in order to comply with ethics in the research. Their validity and reliability have been proven through numerous studies internationally as well as in Iran. The reliability of this questionnaire was re-evaluated and confirmed. The reliability of the test was confirmed by the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 79%. The KM questionnaire had 21 questions and included the components of knowledge creation, knowledge application, knowledge transfer, knowledge preservation on which the respondents expressed their opinion through the 5-point Likert scale (including "very low" score 1, "low" score 2, "in some extent" score 3, "High" score 4 and "Very High" score 5). To interpret the findings, the average score of more than 4 was "appropriate", between 3 and 4 "relatively appropriate", and between 2 and 3 "relatively inappropriate" and less than 2 "inappropriate". The average of the five dimensions represented the score of knowledge management. Descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, and percent) and inferential statistics (Mann-Whitney test) were used for data analysis and SPSS version 22 software.

Results

Dezful University of Medical Sciences, located in southwestern Iran, was established in 2010. Now the university has 74 faculty members 43 of whom completed the questionnaires of this research. Their specifications have been shown in Table 1. According to Table 1, 22 (51.2%) of them are women and 20 (46.5) are men. 35 (81.4%) members are under 40 and 6 (13.9%) members are above 40 years old. 20 (46.5%) of them had MSc degrees and 20 (46.5%) had PhD degrees. 19 of them (44.2%) had a work experience of less than 5 years, 13 (30.2%) of them had a work experience of 5-10 years and 8 (18.6%) of them were with work experience of 11-20 years. Academic degree of 23 (53.5%) members was instructor and 15 of them (34.9%) were assistant professors.

 

Table 1. Individual characteristics of faculty members

Variable

 

Number

Percent

 

Male

20

5.46

Gender

Female

22

2.51

 

Incomplete information

1

3.2

 

Under 40 years

35

4.81

Age

Over 40 years

6

9.13

 

Incomplete information

2

7.4

 

MSc

20

5.46

Education

PhD

20

5.46

 

Incomplete information

3

7

 

<5

19

2.44

 

5-10

13

2.30

Experience

11-20

8

6.18

 

Incomplete information

3

7

 

Instructor

23

5.53

Degree

Assistant Professor

15

9.34

 

Incomplete information

5

6.11

 

According to Table 2, the most responses to the knowledge creation component were "to some extent" (38.5%), the highest response to knowledge preservation, "to some extent" (41.1%), the highest response to component of Knowledge transfer, "to some extent" (32%), and the highest response to the component of knowledge application, was "to some extent" (36%).

Table 2. The responses to knowledge management components

Response

Knowledge creation

Knowledge preservation

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge application

 

Number (percent)

Number (percent)

Number (percent)

Number (percent)

Very low

27(9)

23(9.8)

15(6.8)

14(2.8)

Low

43(3.14)

81(4.31)

40(3.23)

33(2.19)

To some extent

116(5.38)

106(1.41)

55(32)

62(36)

High

70(3.23)

25(7.9)

47(3.27)

43(25)

Very high

28(3.9)

9(5.3)

7(1.4)

11(4.6)

Without response

17(6.5)

14(4.5)

8(7.4)

9(2.5)

Total

301(100)

258(100)

172(100)

127(100)

 

According to Table 3, the variables such as education, age, academic rank, and experience of faculty members did not have a significant effect on their knowledge management (P <0.05). However, the gender of faculty members had a significant effect on their knowledge management scores. Male faculty members had higher knowledge management than female faculty members (P = 0.019).

 

Table 3. Assessing the impact of faculty members’ personal characteristics on their knowledge management

Variable

 

Mean

Standard Deviation

Test

P

 

Male

64.6

12.3

Mann-Whitney

0.019

Gender

Female

53.1

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under 40 years

62.1

10.7

Mann-Whitney

0. 155

Age

Over 40 years

56.2

17.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSc

60.2

15.4

 

0.346

Education

PhD

58

7.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<5

57.6

17.6

Kruskal Wallis

0.742

 

5-10

56.8

19.4

 

 

Experience

11-20

61.3

14.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructor

59.1

16.4

Mann-Whitney

0.244

Degree

Assistant professor

54.3

19.8

 

 

 

 

 

According to Table 4 and Table 5, the mean scores of components of knowledge creation (21.5 ± 3.8), knowledge preservation (15.8 ± 3.8), knowledge transfer (11.5 ± 3.3), and knowledge application (12.1 ± 3.5) have been evaluated to be moderate.

Table 4. Mean and standard deviation of knowledge management components score

Components (range of score changes)

Mean

Standard deviation

Minimum

Maximum

Knowledge creation (7-35)

5.21

8.3

11

31

Preservation of knowledge (6-30)

8.15

8.3

8

27

Knowledge transfer (4-20)

8.11

3.3

4

18

Knowledge application (4-20)

1.12

5.3

4

19

 

Table 5. Analysis and interpretation based on the score of the questionnaire

Components (range of score changes)

Minimum score

Average score

Maximum score

Knowledge creation (7-35)

7-16

16-25

25-35

Preservation of knowledge (6-30)

6-14

14-22

22-30

Knowledge transfer (4-20)

4-9

9-14

14-20

Knowledge application (4-20)

4-9

9-14

14-20

  

Discussion

According to the results of the present research, the scores of different components of knowledge management, knowledge creation, knowledge preservation, knowledge transfer, and knowledge application were evaluated as moderate from the point of view of faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences in the southwest of Iran. It is consistent with the results of the research of Adineh Ghahremani et al. (2), Mohammadi et al. (7), Bahrami et al. (11), Mirheydari et al (14), Feizi et al. (15), Nazem et al. (16), and Tabibi et al. (17). Also, the results of this research showed that the variables such as education, age, academic status and experience of faculty members had no significant effect on their knowledge management, but the gender factor of faculty members had an impact on their knowledge management score. This difference shows that male faculty members have higher knowledge management than the female faculty members, which is in line with the results of research done by Rajaeepour et al. (18) and Nemati et al. (19). However, there are several studies that have assessed the status of knowledge management in poorly qualified knowledge-based environments (8, 20-22). In the study of knowledge management at the level of selected Iranian universities it was indicated that despite the expectations of universities as the centers of creation, acquisition, transfer, production and application of knowledge including management indices, they have not provided a proper status (23). In another research, it was demonstrated that the components of knowledge management establishment have been underestimated in the faculties of the University of Medical Sciences (24). Some studies also suggest that faculty members do not assess the status of organizational culture and the organizational structure of universities to implement appropriate knowledge management (25). A university study in Thailand indicated that knowledge management at this university is moderate, and the faculty and faculty members do not focus on knowledge management processes (26). A study done in China reported that Chinese companies are in the early stages of knowledge management, and most of them do not invest in this area (27). The findings of these studies are not consistent with our study.

The various components of knowledge management were moderate among faculty members, which are relatively desirable due to the 8-year activity of this university; it is necessary that this potential of knowledge management be actualized and its results be appeared in the outputs of this university, so that it can have a worthy place in the ranking of Iranian and international medical universities.

The activity of universities in modern times has affected the monopoly mission of knowledge production and has turned universities into the service enterprises to solve regional, national and global problems. This increases the responsibility of universities in improving the quality and quantity of knowledge sharing. Knowledge management is a challenging process, since it is difficult to know its value, and it is more difficult to apply it desirably for creating the competitive advantages for organizations. To take advantage of these valuable opportunities, they should be considered as an integral part of academic processes. Knowledge management helps faculty members identify, through knowledge learning and reproduction, changes and respond to them timely. In the management of knowledge, the capital-orientation has been replaced with the orientation toward thinking, knowledge and student, as well as the sharing of knowledge and experience and free scientific interactions are considered as its main axes. Focusing on creation and recognition of tacit knowledge, the reengineering of the culture within the organization, and the creative and efficient leadership are considered as the main factors of the success of universities in competitive markets. Also, developing policies of knowledge management establishment in universities oriented on applied knowledge, society and customer can provide a part of the costs of knowledge development processes and developing sciences. Using experiences from other countries and organizations can be useful.

Due to the wide range of work, this research was conducted only among the faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences in southwestern Iran. In future research, it is necessary to conduct some studies among the faculty members of other medical universities in Iran and compare them with other international universities.

Ethical considerations 

Ethical issues (Including plagiarism, informed consent, misconduct, data fabrication and/or falsification, double publication and/or submission, redundancy, etc.) have been completely observed by the authors.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The researchers appreciate all the faculty members of Dezful University of Medical Sciences for their cooperation in this research.

Financial Support

This article is extracted from a research granted by Dezful University of Medical Sciences, Iran. Numbered: 96006 and the ethical code of IR.DUMS.REC.1397.018.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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