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Libri 2014; 64(4): 341349

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Abdus Sattar Chaudhry

Leveraging Personal Networks to Support


Knowledge Management in a Public Sector
Organisation in Kuwait
Abstract: Analysis of knowledge management practices
in a selected ministry in Kuwait showed that knowledge
workers in the public sector identify personal contacts
using traditional methods, but make heavy use of social
networking tools and services to support personal networks. They communicate regularly with contacts that
have expertise in their area of responsibility and prefer to
follow up with those contacts whose work they admire.
Knowledge workers perform a variety of activities on personal networks to strengthen knowledge management.
However, a review of these activities indicates that there
is a need to place more emphasis on collaborative learning through social bookmarks, reflecting and commenting
on blogs, and editing wikis to provide effective support for
knowledge management.
Keywords: Personal Networks; Contacts Management;
Personal Knowledge Management; Social Networking
Tools; Social Software; Kuwait
DOI 10.1515/libri-2014-0027
received: January 23, 2014; revised: June 11, 2014;
accepted: August 11, 2014

Introduction
A personal network refers to a set of known contacts with
whom an individual would expect to interact in order to
support a given set of activities. These are mutually beneficial beyond the immediate peer group and help develop
knowledge networks. Various tools and technologies are
available to support the building and maintaining of per-

Dr. Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, Associate Professor, Department


of Library and Information Science, Department of Library and
Information Science, College of Social Sciences, Kuwait University,
Kuwait
Email: abdusattar.chaudhry@ku.edu.kw

sonal networks. For example, social networking tools and


services help manage networks for the purposes of learning and knowledge sharing. Knowledge workers with an
ability to create higher-value information using these
tools become more valued members of their professional
networks. Organizations can make use of personal networks in order to manage knowledge effectively. It is crucial to understand how personal networks can help build
capabilities for effective knowledge management.
This article reports the results of a study on the use
of personal contacts and social software to build and
strengthen personal networks to support knowledge management. The study focused on the following questions:
How do knowledge workers identify people with
whom they communicate?
How do they build and maintain personal networks?
How frequently do they use social software to build
personal networks?
What activities do they consider important within networks for strengthening knowledge management?

Theoretical Context
The term knowledge worker refers to those employees
who hold graduate degrees and perform professional work
in the areas of their specializations. Knowledge workers
generally perform duties that produce information and
knowledge as a by-product of their regular work. Davenport (2005) suggests that knowledge workers have high
degrees of expertise, education, or experience, and the
primary purpose of their jobs involves the creation, distribution, or application of knowledge. Similarly, knowledge
management refers to the creation, sharing, and use of
knowledge in a wider context.
Knowledge management (KM) encompasses creating, sharing, and applying knowledge for organizational
effectiveness and efficiency. Koenig (2012) states that KM
promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all the informa-

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tion assets of an enterprise. Personal knowledge management (PKM) refers to a focus on individual employees in
the context of their work. Jarche (2012) defines PKM as a
set of processes, individually constructed, that help individuals to make sense of their world and work more effectively. Miller (2005) notes that PKM is a difficult concept
to nail down because it involves several different types of
information, approaches, and methodologies. For Wright
(2005), PKM involves a combination of cognitive, information, social, learning, and development competencies that
individuals draw on in order to function effectively in the
work place. According to Higgison (2004), core PKM issues
include the accessibility and meaningfulness of information and knowledge, the maintenance of social networks,
and the effective management of personal capital. In this
paper, PKM refers to all these important componentsespecially functions that focus on personal networks.
Efimova (2005) proposed a PKM framework that focuses on knowledge worker activities (e.g., developing
and maintaining a personal network) that are often invisible. This framework highlighted that knowledge work
had components that were beyond organizational control.
This study implied that knowledge worker productivity
was a shared responsibility between the individuals and
the organization. Employees brought their expertise in
and made good use of it; they took responsibility for their
learning and developed personal knowledge and skills.
A powerful way to promote connectivity in an organization is to work through the personal networks of employees (Cross 2005). People tend to be successful in very
diverse entrepreneurial networks. Providing employees
with a means of planning their personal network development is an effective way to promote connectivity. Boh
(2007) suggested that an open and warm climate has a
positive influence on individuals preference with regard
to using personal networks. They tend to have a positive
opinion of the usefulness of institutionalized routines,
such as meetings and dialogues. Christakis and Fowler
(2008) highlight that interactions strengthened by peoples comments on our own blogs or revisions we have
made to wikis. Following people and re-tweeting their
tweets on Twitter and browsing their tags on Delicious allow individuals to reflect. It is important that we pay attention to their links, to topics that they find interesting,
and to people they enjoy reading or following. We should
know about our colleagues areas of expertisetheir hot
buttons and styles. When a number of people tweet or retweet the same news or things, it strengthens the bonding
of the community around a shared meme.
Edwards (2009) highlighted that it is people and their
relationships that give a company the competitive edge.

Current social media and networks have the potential to


allow knowledge workers to greatly expand their connections. These tools allow knowledge workers to engage in a
wide range of online activities including conversing with
people on Twitter, seeing people on Flickr, and sharing resources on Delicious. All these activities provide a more
faceted picture of individuals and provide an entirely different experience.
Smedley (2009) pointed out that, because of the increased use of informal approaches in workplace and
communication through modern technologies, individual
KM efforts have become more important in organizational
success. He proposed a model for PKM related to traditional organizational theories of individual knowledge
acquisition and management processes. He stressed the
importance of considering the influences of peer and hierarchical communities to the PKM process.
Razmerita, Kirchner, and Sudzina (2009) have suggested that personal networks could reconcile the conflicting interests of managing organizational knowledge
with personal objectives. They also suggested that these
tools facilitate a more effective way of sharing and managing knowledge at a personal level. In their opinion, social software plays a multifaceted role in communicating,
collaborating, sharing, and managing knowledge. These
tools enable a new model of PKM that includes formal and
informal communication, collaboration, and social networking. Thus, professionals and scholars will gain a better understanding of the potential role of social media and
tools for harnessing and managing personal knowledge.
In the current generation of KM, knowledge is in networks as opposed to documents and archives; access to
this new form of knowledge is found through personal
connections. Anklam (2009) considered the emergence
of social mediaincluding applications, blogging, wikis,
and social networking servicesand its adoption as a critical element in KM strategy. In recent KM initiatives, there
is an increased emphasis on social networks as being a
primary focus for KM work. To exploit social media and
ensure successful collaboration, professionals should be
able to make sense of the plethora of social media tools,
sites, and Web applications.
Chatti (2012) pointed out that most KM models proposed in existing literature lack a theoretical framework.
He proposed the Personal Knowledge Network (PKN) as
an alternative and highlighted that PKNs are better suited
to the demands of the new knowledge environments. The
PKN model views knowledge as a personal network and
represents an ecological approach to KM. He asserts that
most KM initiatives have failed to address the problem of
knowledge worker performance as it relates to coping with

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the constant changes and critical challenges of the new


knowledge era. Chatti further highlighted the crucial need
for new KM models that have the potential to overcome
the shortcomings of previous models. In his opinion, the
PKN model views knowledge as a personal network and
represents a knowledge ecological approach to KM.
Ismail and Ahmad (2012) highlighted that researchers conceived personal knowledge networks with regard
to inter-firm knowledge sources. Instead of looking at the
organizational context, some researchers investigated the
intra-firm aspects that operate at the personal level of organizational knowledge networks, where KM processes
begin and end. The tools used for blogging and tweeting
help generate and consume content in multiple ways, and
enable the sharing of ideas, activities, events, and interests within personal networks. Networks can therefore
provide a good source of support for the strengthening of
knowledge management.
Jarche (2012) suggested that one way to look at network learning was to consider it as a continuous process
of seeking, sensing, and sharing. Seeking refers to finding
things out and keeping knowledge up to date. Sensing refers to how individuals personalize and use information
along with how they reflect on and apply what they have
learned. Sharing refers to exchanging resources, ideas,
and experiences within networks and collaborating with
colleagues. The critical part of PKM is in personalizing information and adding value through filtering, validation,
synthesis, presentation, and customization. PKM argues
that individuals should take time to reflect upon what
they have learned and do something with it. Blogs and
other online self-publishing services are powerful tools
for reflection. Reflecting through writing is a start, but individuals then need to integrate new ways of thinking and
doing into their lives. This is a good beginning: reflection,
followed by making thoughts explicit and public.
Prusak and Cranefield (2011) stressed the need to invest in knowledge networks. They suggested that knowledge workers should dedicate their time and resources
to strengthen the networks density, content, and reach.
Knowledge workers can get ideas from colleagues, friends,
co-workers, and others by using varied networks. Activities performed on the networks will show how trustworthy
they are, weather they reciprocate when asked for help by
someone on the network. Do they make real contributions
to their network? This study has attempted to investigate
the perceptions of knowledge workers regarding the importance of knowledge management activities performed
on personal networks.

Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, Leveraging Personal Networks

343

Research Methodology
This study focused on the PKM practices of officers working in various departments of a ministry in Kuwait. The
name of the ministry is not given for the purpose of anonymity. At the time of the study, there were 156 officers
who were considered knowledge workers in accordance
with the criteria of holding a graduate degree and performing professional duties. All knowledge workers were
invited to participate in the study through a letter from the
ministrys administrative department.
A survey was used to conduct the study and a quantitative approach was used for initial data collection. Several KM studies have applied such an approach because
of the various benefits of this method: these studies have
indicated that a quantitative approach was more appropriate to reach a consensus on the most frequently adopted practices and tools (Lopez-Nicolas and Merono-Cerdan
2011; Raula, Vuki, and temberger 2012; Zaied 2012).
Interviews with selected participants were also conducted
to provide qualitative data and to triangulate the quantitative results. Data were collected using an online questionnaire. Initially, only 45 knowledge workers filled out the
questionnaire, so reminders were sent to those who did
not fill it out. Printed copies of the questionnaire were also
distributed to encourage participation, whichalong with
the remindersresulted in the number of responses rising
to 74, yielding a response rate of 47.43%.
The questionnaire sought information on identifying
contacts, social networking, building personal networks,
and performing activities on blogs and wikis. Participants
were also asked about the methods used to build and
strengthen personal networks and their preferences regarding the activities they performed to exploit personal
networks in order to strengthen PKM.
The participants were requested to indicate their
willingness to participate in a follow-up face-to-face discussion and email interviews. Only a small number of respondents showed a willingness to be interviewed (about
18%). However, interviews with this group provided an opportunity to gather valuable insights about the questionnaires findings. Interviews also helped provided researchers the opportunity to seek clarification and elaboration
regarding questionnaire responses. A guide containing a
list of questions was helpful in conducting interviews. In
addition to a general framework, the guide also contained
specific questions to ask respondents that helped clarify
the responses. The interviewees also provided input about
KM-related things in the ministry in general.
Of the 74 officers who provided information, 97% held
bachelor degrees, 77% had up to five years of work experi-

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Table 1: Identification of personal contacts (n=74)


Method
Maintain a collection of business cards from people met at seminars and conferences.
Target people with common interests from online discussion groups and communities of practice.
Review email activities to identify personal contacts.
Develop a list of contacts from different sources over a period of time

ence, and more than 82% were 30 years or under. 60% of


the participants were male.

Results and Discussion


Identifying Personal Contacts
For knowledge workers, who they know is just as important as what they know. They spend a great deal of
resources on managing contacts and keeping them up to
date. Sometimes, the line between personal and business
contacts is uncertain and special attention is required to
identify contacts for PKNs. The participants were asked
how they identify those people with whom they interacted in order to strengthen personal knowledge and professional development. Table 1 shows a summary of their
responses. The table lists the methods commonly used by
knowledge workers to identify people to interact with.
As shown in Table 1, officers surveyed in the ministry
still gave preference to traditional methods of identifying
personal contacts. The highest percentage of responses for
the business card method reflects, in a way, a preference
for this methodmore than 66% of respondents chose
this method, while only 37% indicated that they made use
of online discussion groups and communities of practice
to identify new contacts. Even less, just 34% of respondents, indicated that they used email as a way to identify
personal contacts. It is surprising that the knowledge
workers in the ministry did not use email as a preferred
medium to identify contacts more frequently when professional literature reports point to email communication
as an important source for identifying personal contacts
(OHara 2009; Schawbel 2010). As indicated by the analysis
of responses and follow-up discussions with the officers,
the potential of the available email features remained underutilized.
During the interviews, the officers discussed their familiarity with the capabilities and features of the email
client used at the ministry. There appears to be a lack of

Percentage

Responses

66.2

49

37.8

28

33.8

25

27.0

20

awareness about these features and the support they provide for building personal networks through easily identifying relevant contacts. It appears that the participants
have not effectively exploited the capabilities of the email
system for personal contact management. Professional
literature has highlighted the need to take advantage of
email systems features and capabilities in order to support KM and has suggested that organizations consider
developing guidelines on organizing contacts for network
success. However, further investigations are needed to enhance scholars understanding of the reasons for not exploiting email for contact identification.
Identifying relevant contacts allows knowledge workers to obtain information from trusted sources (Jarche
2012). Various email clients provide excellent features to
capture information about contacts and turn them into
personal networks. For example, Google Contacts is a way
to store and organize contact information about the people
with whom you communicate. This Gmail feature helps
capture basic information and allows users to add extended information. This feature also helps the email application integrate with other applications, such as documents
and calendars, through its auto-complete function. Users
can even synchronize contacts between GoogleApps and
a mobile device in order to see their contacts outside of a
browser. Similar capabilities are available in email clients
used by different enterprises, such as Outlook, Exchange,
and Lotus. It was interesting to note that almost all officers at the ministry used smart phones, which have excellent features for integrating email with other applications
and for providing assistance in identifying contacts and
converting these into personal networks. While these are
in wide use for personal purposes, there does not appear
to be much enthusiasm to exploit smart phones and their
features in an organizational context.

Building Personal Networks


As ones network grows, it is difficult to remember everything about everyone (OHara 2009). The various contact

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Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, Leveraging Personal Networks

345

Table 2: Methods of building personal networks


Rank

Method

Save phone numbers and send messages or emails once in a while to


maintain contact.
Determine the proximity of personal contacts (team, unit, organization,
etc.).
Study the frequency of interaction with personal contacts.
Maintain an updated list of contacts through email or a database with
relevant details.
Record the physical location of important contacts (office, organization,
etc.).
Examine the level of contacts with regard to rank and position.
Keep notes about the areas of interest, hot buttons, and styles of relevant
contacts.
Keep track of attendance at conferences for collaboration.

2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Use Frequency Percentage*


1
2
3
4

Mean
Score

Responses

4.1

6.8

21.9

30.1

37.0

3.89

66

2.8

18.8

30.0

30.0

18.6

3.46

67

1.4
2.8

20.0
14.1

34.3
39.4

25.7
31.0

18.6
12.7

3.40
3.37

70
71

11.8

14.7

27.9

26.5

19.1

3.26

68

14.9
7.6

16.4
19.7

20.9
24.4

28.4
25.8

19.4
4.5

3.21
3.00

67
66

4.5

32.8

38.8

19.4

4.5

2.87

67

*1= infrequent use, 5 = frequent use

management systems will be helpful for contact information spread across multiple devices, files, sticky notes,
and drawers. This has become particularly important with
social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and
Twitter. These online social networks allow users to maintain contacts and converse within that network. By using
third-party tools, knowledge workers can have the flexibility to manage communications from a variety of sources.
The participants indicated preferences for methods to
build and strengthen their personal networks. The questionnaire provided eight statements to choose from and
included others for participants to add if they had used
other methods not included in the questionnaire. The participants indicated preferences on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being
the least preferred and 5 being the most preferred). Their
responses are summarized in Table 2.
As shown in Table 2, a majority of officers (with a
highest mean score of 3.89) reported that they tried to stay
in touch on a regular basis with the contacts that they
had identified. They preferred to use email and the telephone to keep in touch with their contacts. 37% of the 66
respondents reported that telephone and email were the
most preferred means of communication with their personal contacts.
The officers were selective in maintaining their contacts. They reported that they give priority to proximity with the identified contacts and that they preferred to
communicate with people from the same unit, team, organization, and area of specialization. As shown in Table
2, approximately 40% of the officers appeared to be neutral in maintaining regular lists for communication. Only

19% considered it important to record the physical location of their contacts. This might reflect that face-to-face
interaction with contacts may not be a priority for these officers. Similarly, the positions and ranks of contacts do not
seem to correlate with the frequency of selection or selection methods, as only 19% listed it as a preferred criterion.
It is somewhat odd that there was a lower preference
for follow-up activities, such as keeping notes about the
areas of interest, hot buttons, and styles of relevant contacts. The participants also did not seem to find it important to keep track of attendance at conferences to explore
future collaboration, which might have been helpful in
exploring the possibility of future networking. These two
means of communication and follow-up methods yielded
the lowest mean scores among the eight parameters.
Discussions with the officers during the interviews
indicated that a culture existed in the ministry that prioritized smart phones as a way to communicate with colleagues within and outside the ministry. For matters that
require formal communication, there is still a preference
for formal printed letters and communication through fax.
Email has not gained popularity as a means of communication in professional and official matters.
The need for and importance of personal networks to
increase knowledge has been emphasized in the professional literature. Cliff and Rhine (2002) suggested turning
conversations into a rich source by using the untapped
knowledge of employees and developing this into an effective knowledge network through peer-to-peer interactive communities. Brogan (2010) advised keeping abreast
of contacts news through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twit-

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Table 3: The use of social networking tools


Tool/Media
Twitter
Facebook
Wikis
Blogs
LinkedIn

Use Frequency Percentage*


1
2
3
4
6.8
10.8
16.2
16.7
48.6

13.7
21.6
17.6
27.8
32.9

19.2
37.8
39.7
41.9
12.9

34.2
23.0
19.1
16.7
4.3

5
26.0
6.8
7.5
6.9
1.4

Mean

Responses

3.59
2.93
2.84
2.69
1.77

73
74
68
72
70

*1 = least frequent, 5 = most frequent

ter, which would lead to opportunities to congratulate


them on their success and commiserate with them over
their failures. Connecting with ones contacts in personal
networks when attending various seminars, meetings, etc.
helps deepen relationships.
During the interviews, this researcher tried to find
out whether the lower mean of activities such as taking
notes, paying attention to contacts posting, and tracking
contacts in conferences was a reflection of the perceptions
of offices about the importance of networking. There is a
need to emphasize that participation in personal networks
and time spent on networking activities are an investment
in professional and personal development. The impact of
these activities needs to be further investigated and future
research should address these issues.

The Use of Social Networking Tools and


Services
Participants were asked to indicate how often they use social networking tools on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the least
frequent and 5 being the most frequent). They were also
asked to identify the additional tools they used that were
not listed in the questionnaire. Their responses are summarized in Table 3.
As shown in Table 3, officers used Twitter, which had
a mean score of 3.59, more often than other social networking tools. As expected, Facebook turned out to be the participants second choice, with a mean score of 2.93. It was
interesting to note that the professional networking tool
LinkedIn yielded a low mean score of 1.77. This might be
because of the nature of the participants jobs. They carry
out their responsibilities within the policy framework of
the ministry, requiring less interaction with outside professionals. Three officers identified Instagram and WhatsApp as additional tools they used.
Twenty-six percent (26%) of the 73 participants who
reported using Twitter indicated the frequency at a level

of 5, whereas the majority of participants reported a lower frequency of use for Facebook (only 6.8% indicated a
frequency level of 5). It is also interesting to note that a
majority of the respondents (48.6%) reported the use of
LinkedIn at a frequency level of 1.
Overall, the use of social networking sites (e.g., Twitter and Facebook) and social software (e.g., wikis and
blogs) appears to be quite frequent. In the post-survey
interviews, the researcher tried to obtain information on
how respondents used these tools, sites, and services, but
the respondents did not provide much information. Further investigation will be helpful in order to see the real
value of using social networks and tools.
Professional literature suggests that PKM is not just
about using Twitter, Facebook, or other tools. Deep immersion in social media is necessary to realize their real
potential (Pisani 2009; Hart 2012). In our opinion, knowledge workers in the future will need more social and selfmanaged approaches to learning within their organization. Mack (2009) has highlighted three key benefits of
using Twitter: it lowers resistance to sharing information,
makes it easy to tap into a global mind-set, and provides
quick recognition and feedback for what one thinks and
knows. We feel that with the widespread popularity of
Twitter, it can become one of the most powerful knowledge sharing and relationship building tools in public sector organizations.

Network Activities for


Strengthening KM
The professional literature has highlighted that PKM
cannot be enhanced merely by using tools. It depends
on what types of activities are performed while using social networking tools and communicating with personal
contacts. These activities help establish the credibility of
knowledge workers as active participants and contribu-

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347

Table 4: Activities for strengthening KM


Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Activities

Mean
Score

Communicate regularly with contacts in the network that have the expertise you seek.
Follow those people whose work you admire on networks.
Try to gain access to your contacts networks.
Follow people that your contacts enjoy reading or following.
Follow and re-tweet contacts on Twitter and browse their tags on Delicious.
Share information on social network sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Respond to comments on blogs or wiki edits of contacts and experts in your networks.
Subscribe to and comment on the blogs of selected contacts.

tors in the networks. The time and effort put into network
participation is a sort of investment in the knowledge networks. The frequency of use for these tools and services
reflects an integration of these activities into regular work.
The officers indicated the perceived importance of
eight areas of activities for the exploitation of personal
contacts and networks. They were also asked to indicate
how often they perform these activities on a scale of 1 to
5 (1 being infrequently and 5 being most frequently). Table 4 shows a summary of the responses. Mean scores are
based on the reported frequencies. The responses show
the number of respondents who provided an answer for
the listed activity.
As shown in Table 4, the officers gave the highest priority to regular communication with contacts that have
expertise in their area of responsibility, as this activity
received the highest mean score; more than 50% of the
participants rated it at 4 or 5. Similarly, a large number of
respondents indicated that they considered it very important to follow up with contacts whose work they admired,
as this activity also yielded a mean score of 3.42. The importance attached to activities 3 and 4 (following the networks of their contacts) shows that officers at the ministry
appreciated these activities. As the mean scores indicate,
activities focusing on contacts networks were considered
very important for strengthening PKM.
Activities and frequency indicated by officers at the
ministry are in line with the trends reported in existing
literature. For example, Christakis and Fowler (2008) observed that professionals were tied to the behaviours and
sources of knowledge of those with whom they interacted.
These interactions include subscribing to and commenting
on others blogs and information on social network sites
such as LinkedIn and Facebook. In these areas, the officers were not very active and they did not indicate these as
priority areas.
Two activities on the list presented to the participants
relate to the use of social bookmarks. As reported in the

3.42
3.42
3.24
3.15
3.07
2.71
2.68
2.32

Responses
69
69
71
71
73
69
71
68

literature, social bookmarking is important for capturing


information in relevant areas and leveraging collaborative learning. As shown in Table 4, these activities yielded
comparatively lower scores of 3.07 and 2.68 respectively.
It was unexpected to see a lower mean score (2.32) for activities that involved making comments on blogs and editing wikis as these activities are very important in PKM. As
stated elsewhere in the paper, this requires further investigation.
Spiglanin (2012) states that various social platforms
provide short-form blogging, threaded discussions, link
sharing, and a number of other social media services
These social platforms offer different types of relationships (friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, etc.)
and may serve as nodes on several social and workplace
networks. Discussions in interviews with officers at the
ministry revealed that they did not use these facilities frequently enough to strengthen PKM. These services offer
a great opportunity to create awareness about the role of
these activities in supporting PKM in public sector institutions.
Building a network of colleagues is helpful in seeking
and finding knowledge. Personal networks not only allow
us to gather information but also push information to us
from trusted sources. Therefore, knowledge workers need
to take time to reflect upon what they have learnt. Blogs
and other online self-publishing tools are powerful means
for steps need to be taken to create more awareness about
the importance of these activities and personal networks
in enhancing PKM.

Conclusion
The professional literature has highlighted that knowledge in modern work environments is greater within
networks, and access to knowledge networks is forged

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Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, Leveraging Personal Networks

through personal connections. PKM practices indicate


that knowledge workers in public sector institutions still
appear to prefer traditional methods of personal contact
identification, such as maintaining a collection of personal cards and keeping lists of personal contacts. They also
used online discussion groups and communities of practices to identify contacts. Even though the results of this
study revealed that knowledge workers try to stay in touch
with their personal contacts on a regular basis using email
and telephone communications, it also revealed that they
did not exploit email effectively to identify contacts. Results also indicated that study participants preferred to
communicate with people from the same unit, team, organization, and specialization and that they frequently
use social networking tools and servicessuch as Twitter,
Facebook, blogs, and wikisto support PKM. Interestingly, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn were
used less frequently.
Knowledge workers in public sector institutions consider it important to follow up with contacts whose work
they admire. They also consider the networks of their contacts very important. However, they did not effectively exploit the potential of social software to strengthen PKM.
While they used social media frequently, knowledge workers in the public sector in Kuwait attached less importance
to making comments on blogs and editing wikis, which
as pointed out in previous studiesare considered crucial activities for personal reflection, a form of personal
knowledge. Knowledge workers would be able to fully utilize their social networks and strengthen PKM if they contributed to blogs and wikis about appropriate activities in
their personal networks.
This exploratory study has provided useful data on
the building of personal networks and the use of these
networks to support PKM. However, further research is
needed to enhance understanding and develop insight
into the reasons for the lower use of social software, such
as blogs and wikis, for strengthening PKM. Follow-up research may provide richer data with the use of qualitative
methods, e.g., group discussions. Similarly, expanding
the sample to include participants from several public sector organizations will make future research more useful.
Acknowledgement The research work reported in this paper was supported by Kuwait University (Research Grant
No. O101/12).

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