Capturing Knowledge During a Dynamically Evolving R&D Project: A Particular Application of Wiki Software

By Ronald C. Beckett.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many knowledge management projects seek to access and/or capture some form of background enterprise knowledge. In this paper we look at capturing new technological knowledge as it is created. Whilst engineers and scientists adopt practices that capture knowledge, the practices of each community differ. The lab book is a common capture media for scientists. CAD models and specifications are common knowledge capture media for engineers. In the R&D project that inspired this paper, scientists from a university, engineers recruited by an industry sponsor, and university technicians and tradesmen were organized as a project team. The university hosted the team, and a project manager employed by the industry client managed it. It was observed that traditional practices did not capture all of the knowledge generated as the project progressed. This was of some concern to the industry sponsor, as the team would disband at some point. An action research project was initiated to find an approach to formalizing project knowledge in a way that provided a useful tool for supporting day-to-day activities rather than requiring some additional and possibly distracting effort. Some operational structures were established via a quality assurance approach that sought to ensure the quality of the underlying science, the quality of the engineering, the quality of the product and the quality of manufacture of a very complex product. This paper describes the kind of knowledge structure developed and the way a Wikipedia based repository was utilized.

Keywords: Action Research, R&D Environment, Knowledge Capture, Wiki Software

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.59-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.136MB).

Dr. Ronald C. Beckett

Adjunct Professor, Centre for Industry and Innovation Studies, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Ron Beckett is an industry practitioner with more than twenty-five years experience in the aerospace industry as a manager and change agent and nearly ten years experience as a consultant specializing in strategic innovation practices. For some fifteen years he has been working with university business schools seeking to better understand things that make sense in industry , and searching for new ideas that industry might utilize. He has used action research and case study methods in this interaction. Ron has published more than sixty conference papers, journal articles or book chapters on related subjects, including knowledge management, multi-partner collaboration and understanding innovation as a business process. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. He currently manages a consultancy network, and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Sydney.

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