The Importance of Knowledge Sharing in Modern World
In the twenty first century, the world economy is being reshapes in a fundamental manner than in any other time in human history through the application of information and communication technology (ICT). The heart of these changes places into managing the intellectual capital and knowledge of the organizations. This new set of economic activities, organizational structures and movement of employees create greater competition among different organizations (Tai-Ning et al., 2011). Like any other organizations, there is also a great competition in the healthcare organization.
In today’s global economy, competitive advantage is increasingly achieved through the effective use of knowledge. The world is now in the era which has been termed the knowledge age. That means, knowledge is the primary commodity and most important in the economy (Ghosh and Mahanti, 2014). According to these authors knowledge is defined as human expertise, which is found in peoples mind and obtained by employing new experts through networking with different organizations and even competitor firms. In addition,Temtim (2014) defined knowledge as a resources employee should possess to effectively execute their tasks.
According to Nonaka et al. (1996) knowledge is either tacit or explicit. Tacit knowledge refers to the personal knowledge residing within an individual’s head in the forms of personal experience, know-how, insight, mental modes and personal beliefs, whereas explicit knowledge refers to well-articulated knowledge that is written down and documented. Alam et al. (2009) stated that every accomplishment needs some sort of knowledge, because there is nothing which can be performed without knowledge. According to Hosseini et al. (2019) knowledge is used as source of economy; knowledge management (KM) is popular and plays an important role in an organization to improve its performance and gain competitive advantage. Since the beginning of 1990’s, many organizations are moving towards the implementation of knowledge management to achieve the competitive advantage among their competitors.
Knowledge management comes to beginning in the early 1990s, has potential of attaining greater competitive advantage among their competitors (Wakuma et al., 2017). Wickramasinghe (2010) defined KM as an emerging management technique that governs the creation, sharing and utilization of knowledge to fulfill organizational objectives. It also aimed at solving the current business challenges to increase efficiency and effectiveness of core business processes while simultaneously incorporating continuous innovation. As defined by Hosseini et al. (2019) KM is a set of principles, tools and practices that enable people to create knowledge,to share, translate and apply what they know to create value and improve effectiveness. The main objective of KM is to improve the systematic management of knowledge within the organization (Alawneh and Aouf, 2016).
Knowledge management plays effective roles in many organizations, such as in healthcare organizations, industries, educational institutions, governmental and business organizations and many more (Ghosh and Mahanti, 2014; Alawneh and Aouf, 2016). KM plays an essential role in overcoming several issues encountered in different organizations. Furthermore, the application of knowledge management in the healthcare sector does not really differ from other organization. However, the increasing complexity of the healthcare sector makes knowledge management implementation more difficult than other sectors (Wickramasinghe, 2010; Mohajan, 2016; Lee, 2017). Demirkan (2013) noted that there is need for a paradigm shift in how healthcare organizations use information technology. Platis et al. (2015) further postulated that KM implementations in the healthcare sector depend on the technological tools to manage creating, storing, sharing and utilizing knowledge. The continuous improvement to the healthcare services requires adequate implementations to overcome the obstacles occurring in this sector. Systems used in managing healthcare services are considered to be much compounded with internal and external entities, that it involves several partners operating in diverse domains that need to be coordinated in order to deliver quality healthcare service to patients.
Healthcare knowledge is generated at a rapid pace (Abidi et al., 2009) in terms of explicit and tacit resources. Explicit resources include research based publications, best evidence, systematic reviews, clinical guidelines, clinical protocols and problem-based discussions. Tacit resources include the practice related experiential knowledge of practitioners. The healthcare sector is increasingly becoming a knowledge-based community that depends critically on KM activities to improve the quality of care. In this knowledge based community the important activity of KM is knowledge sharing, how to share knowledge to produce best benefits to the organization (Dessie, 2017; Lee, 2017).
Knowledge sharing is one of the crucial element (Alhalhouli et al., 2014). Knowledge sharing is defined as a deliberate act that makes knowledge reusable by other people through knowledge exchange. It has been identified as the key component of KM and performance improvement system. So, having a knowledge sharing culture enables the healthcare sector workers to implement their best practices and generate new ideas and better quality healthcare service can be delivered (Dessie, 2017).
Knowledge sharing among health professionals is considered to be critical for improving the quality of patient care. In particular, tacit knowledge sharing amongst health professionals, such as the sharing of clinical experiences, skills, know-how or know who, is known to have a significant impact on the quality of medical diagnosis and decisions (Sabeeh et al., 2018). However, Asemahagn (2014) study showed that there is poor knowledge sharing opportunity in the healthcare sector, the more likely healthcare sector professionals to practice knowledge sharing. According to Dessie (2017) healthcare sector should have the culture of knowledge sharing practices to make better use of know-how, experience and skills of their healthcare professionals.
From healthcare KM perspective, it is vital to harness and facilitate tacit knowledge sharing among clinical teams, particularly when they are not always physically co-located but must exchange their critical experiential knowledge (Sabeeh et al., 2018). Furthermore, Zaher (2016) stated that to facilitate knowledge sharing in healthcare sector requires development of a proper knowledge management framework (KMF), namely one which can ensure that knowledge is manifested into readable form rather than hidden in professional’s minds. The traditional KMF facilitate the sharing of explicit healthcare knowledge. But, the practice-related healthcare knowledge of health professionals termed as experiential knowledge is not systematically disseminated despite the fact that it entails vital and pragmatic insights into what worked, what did not work and what are the best practices in specific clinical situations, especially beyond the realm of accepted norms and established beliefs (Alhalhoul et al., 2013).
Many scholars consider ICT as a valuable means for facilitating different aspects of knowledge sharing and communication, as it reduces time and distance (Fichman et al., 2011). Wakuma et al. (2017) stated that technology plays vital role in KM for the purpose of enhancing knowledge sharing through the development of KMF. In addition, Zaher (2016) stated that technology based KMF for knowledge sharing in healthcare sector support the full spectrum of knowledge needs in the medical process has become an important issue for health professionals. A fundamental question for information science researchers & practitioners is how collaborative technologies and tools will be used to share knowledge (Belay, 2014).Collaborative technologies are nothing but integrated sets of IT functionalities that facilitate communication and knowledge sharing among interconnected entities (Fichman et al., 2011; Alhalhoul et al., 2013; Belay, 2014;Zaher, 2016; Wakuma et al., 2017).
Statement of the Problem
In today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment health institutions (hospital,clinics) optimize their chance of success not by telling healthcare professionals what to do, but by enabling them to make informed decisions. There is no health professional that knows everything he or she needs to know (Motlanthe, 2017). Many practitioners and academics assume that since knowledge sharing is crucial for achieving the collective outcome, people will share knowledge as part of their work requirements. However, most organizations tend to over-emphasize on systems and tools, rather than on the core component that is knowledge sharing among knowledge workers in a given organization. Therefore, knowledge sharing practices are vital in knowledge-based organizations such as healthcare sectors (Diriba et al., 2016). Health professionals need up-to-date health information from credible sources to improve their knowledge and provide evidence based healthcare services to their clients. As shown by various studies, developing knowledge sharing habits within the organizations is essential for the success of health institutions and their customers by increasing intellectual capital, reducing costs, and making individuals and organizations competitive in their environment (Diriba et al., 2016).
Abidi (2008) postulated that healthcare is experiencing an exponential growth in the scientific understanding of diseases, treatments and care pathways. As a consequence, healthcare knowledge is in flux new as being generated at a rapid pace and its utilization can profoundly impact patient care and health outcomes. But, this growth of knowledge is not congruent with our ability to effectively disseminate, translate and apply current healthcare knowledge in clinical practice. Lin and Hsieh (2006) revealed that delivering safe and high quality services to patients is highly dependent on sharing the following types of knowledge, i.e. medical knowledge, scientific knowledge, incident knowledge and experience knowledge. Medical knowledge is defined as the required information for diagnosis and treatment. Scientific knowledge is about applying research findings in practice. Incident knowledge refers to learn from medical errors. Finally, experience knowledge refers to experienced healthcare providers educating the less experienced practitioners about the best practices and procedures. Failure to share the above mentioned knowledge can impact patient safety. Thus, all these types of knowledge require special attention in order to create environment to improve the quality of healthcare services.
According to Baigorri et al. (2013) opined that in most organizations people believe that knowledge hoarding is more beneficial than knowledge sharing. Since knowledge is a central resource of government services, effective knowledge sharing among employees is a significant management challenge for providing excellent services to the public at all levels. Mirza (2009) stated in his report that many healthcare organizations are facing lack of knowledge sharing due to absence of processes and framework for knowledge management. As a result, they face difficulties while acquiring the knowledge due to its rapid growth. He went further to stress that one of the existing problems in healthcare KM is lack of knowledge sharing culture; top management support, organizational rewards, technological support and departments within healthcare have no such contact with each other where both can share their knowledge. However, knowledge sharing factors could be grouped into three independent and operational factors, such as: (individual factors that are influenced by willingness, awareness, past mistakes, trust, motivation, job satisfaction and fear of loss of personal competitiveness); (organizational factors that are influenced by organizational culture, management support, organizational structure, group interaction, reward and incentives and perceived openness) and (technological factors that are influenced by ICT infrastructure, usage, training and compatibility of ICT tools). In addition to those factors this research also examine organization socialization as moderator factor. This lack of knowledge sharing problem that are influenced factors leads to the narrow vision of knowledge by the team players in the hospitals and as a consequence, it becomes difficult for healthcare organization to work as a group. This problem leads organization to failure of efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Abidi (2008) referred to the estimation of US Medicine Institute that around 98,000 patients die each year as a consequence of preventable errors. He went on to indicate that a study conducted in two UK hospitals showed that 11% of admitted patients experienced adverse events of which; 48% of these events were most likely preventable if the right knowledge was applied. The conclusion drawn from the studies was that the under-utilization of healthcare knowledge contributes to incorrect clinical decisions, medical errors, sub-optimal utilization of resources and high healthcare delivery costs. Despite knowledge sharing among different health systems were acknowledged, globally it is poorly practiced (Dessie, 2017). Study conducted in China among referral health care services indicated that 61% of hospital doctors rated patient-centered knowledge sharing as very poor practice (Zhou and Nunes, 2016). Another study done in Jordan hospitals revealed that knowledge sharing practice among health care workers was 73% (Alhalhoul et al., 2013). As indicated by different studies from Ethiopia, knowledge sharing practice of health professionals rages from (17.7% at Felege hiwot hospital to 53.95% in Hawasa selected public hospitals) due to several factors (Amezenech, 2014). Andualem et al. (2013) opined that in hospitals of resource limited countries, knowledge and experience sharing are poorly practiced. The absence of this essential issue in hospitals is the main cause for the presence of various medical errors such as severe injury, miss diagnosis, wrong treatment, increased multidrug resistance and unexpected deaths.
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