18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Factors that influence knowledge management systems to improve knowledge transfer in local government: a case study of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality

Factors that influence knowledge management systems to improve knowledge transfer in local government: A case study of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality

Samuel Sibongile Ncoyini, Liezel Cilliers

The demand for improved service delivery requires new approaches and attitudes from local government. One of the ways this can be achieved is to focus on continuous improvement by driving innovation and lessons learnt from the municipalities’ past successes and failures.  For local government authorities to rethink service delivery, they need to find better ways to share information assets, business processes and staff expertise with their citizens and business partners. The lack of Knowledge Management (KM) and, therefore, a low level of information and knowledge transfer in the public services have been identified as two of the main contributors to poor service delivery. The implementation of knowledge transfer process is one of the factors that will impact on the improvement of service delivery.

The main purpose of this research study was to investigate how knowledge management systems can be used to improve the knowledge transfer at Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM). The research study focused on knowledge transfer within the Municipality as the general area of research. The objective of this study was to produce critical success factors that would improve knowledge management systems and knowledge transfer among employees at BCMM, which would ultimately improve service delivery.

The data was collected by means of semi-structured interviews. Eight respondents were sampled, namely, an Information and Communication Technology manager, two directors, two heads of departments, KM champion and two staff members from the Knowledge Management Department. The snowball sampling technique was employed by asking members of the population to identify other participants who might have a similar status or be experts in the field. The qualitative interviews were analysed by means of thematic analysis and NVivo was also used to analyse the data.

The study found that the culture within the Municipality is not supportive as the hierarchical and bureaucratic management suppress any attempts at openness and support. At a human resources level, information is not seamlessly transferred between managers and their subordinates. There seems to be a culture of knowledge-hoarding in attempts to augment personal importance or worth. Most of the Municipal employees still believe that knowledge management falls under the Knowledge Management Department and should mainly reside in employees working in this department.

The study, therefore, recommends that BCMM should ensure that knowledge transfer practices and initiatives are fully supported and promoted by the top management. This will make certain that sufficient resources to support knowledge transfer are allocated. To solve the knowledge transfer problems found to be challenging the Municipality, Knowledge Management needs to be aligned with the organizational strategy. Official KM strategies should be developed and aligned to organizational strategies so that that top management shares a vision on knowledge transfer and continues to plan towards realising the agreed upon KM objectives. The Municipality has a responsibility to maintain flexible organizational structure so that distribution of knowledge and cooperation can be increased.