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James, P 2005, 'Knowledge asset management: the strategic management and knowledge management nexus', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright P James 2005


This research sought to establish the nexus between the two management disciplines of strategic management and knowledge management. Through a study of the life cycle of knowledge assets within the Australian Public Sector, this nexus has been established.

Over the last three decades, there has been a growing interest in the nascent discipline of knowledge management (Wiig 1997). However, discussion regarding knowledge, knowledge workers and knowledge management started much earlier when Chester Barnard’s management classic The Functions of the Executive (1938) included suggestions made on how to manage knowledge workers. The 1960s saw management authors and researchers such as Peter Drucker (1993; 1994; 1995; 1997a; 1997b), Machlup (1962), and Michael Polanyi (1967) discussing topics such as knowledge work, knowledge workers, and tacit and explicit knowledge. During much the same period, strategic management was also being researched and discussed, with Alfred D. Chandler being among the first scholars to study strategic management. His book Strategy and Structure (1962) described the development of organisations, and showed that the practice of strategic management predated its study as a management discipline. Chandler was followed by other researchers including Igor Ansoff (1965) and Learned, Christensen, Andrews and Guth (1965), Henry Mintzberg (1979; 1985; 1990; 1996a; 1996b; 1999), and Michael E. Porter (1980; 1985). Research continues in both disciplines; however, research on the interface between these two important disciplines is rare, particularly in Australia.

The Australian Public Sector was selected as the target industry for this research, and case study as the research strategy. The research strategy combined a variety of methods including interviews, questionnaires and surveys. The approach taken with data analysis was to employ aspects of the approach used in grounded theory. In addition, action research was used as a meta-methodology, in that periods of review and reflection were undertaken that generated improvements to the research methodology.

This research has found that there is a marked interdependence between strategic management and the management of knowledge assets. The strategic management process requires skills and capabilities (knowledge assets) for its execution. Moreover, the resultant strategies require the exploitation of knowledge assets to ensure effective implementation. The life cycle of knowledge assets starts and ends when their need or otherwise is identified directly or indirectly by strategic plans. Knowledge assets are acquired, deployed, utilised and maintained until they are no longer needed. They are then disposed of by outsourcing or atrophy when people are redeployed or retrained.

This research has focused on the disciplines of strategic management and knowledge management; however, its contribution lies largely in the area of capability management. Corporate strategy theorists, from the RBV (Resource Based View) and KBV (Knowledge Based View) schools, see organisations as a body of knowledge (Spender 1996). From the perspective of knowledge assets, used as the theme of this research, an organisation is a body of capabilities, and to achieve corporate objectives, the capabilities must match the strategies.