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Using the knowledge management discourse as a framework for the self examination of a school administrator's professional practice

By Paul Joseph Dillon

Abstract

Popular management literature routinely presents management discourses that offer managers with strategies or 'recipes' for organisational improvement. Practitioners often uncritically accept and implement strategies prescribed within these discourses. Management discourses are constantly evolving to seemingly provide newer and better solutions to organisations' problems. The evolutionary pressures are evidenced through the limited life spans of many of the strategies proffered in the various management discourses. So short have been the life spans of some of these management strategies that the question of faddism has been raised (Birnbaum, 2001). Over recent years knowledge management has filtered from the broader management discourse into the discourse of educational administration. Knowledge management practices are said to enable individuals within an educational organisation to add value to the information and knowledge that an organisation possesses. This research used self-study to examine the effectiveness of a school administrator attempting to model explicit knowledge management principles within his professional practice. A focus of the research was the critical investigation of knowledge management as a management fad or a framework for sustainable management behaviour. Employing the living theory approach to action research allowed me to ask questions about 'how' to improve my practice and to provide evidence to support my answers. It allowed me to examine my professional practice as an educational administrator who valued knowledge, its creation and use critically. My research learnings been have presented as propositions related to the 'how' of my professional practice and its influence on the creation and management of knowledge. The propositions are as follows. * Proposition 1: As an administrator my practices when working with knowledge are a reflection of my ontology and epistemology. To consciously vary my professional practices to facilitate knowledge creation and management it is essential for me to make my ontology and epistemology explicit. * Proposition 2: My professional practices related to information sharing and knowledge creation are directly influenced by psycho-social filters. Three primary psycho-social filters are context, need and relationships. * Proposition 3: The influence of the relationship filter on my knowledge creation activities is directly linked to the relationships that exist between me and those involved in the knowledge activities. The ongoing capacity for my professional practices to influence knowledge creation is linked through relationships by my personal resilience. * Proposition 4: My knowledge influencing practices are those practices that support the provision of opportunities for information sharing and the creation of knowledge with the specific intent of applying that knowledge in an organisational context. A primary application of the created knowledge is decision making. * Proposition 5: Knowledge creation is an ongoing process and knowledge is only relevant at a point in time and applicable in a particular context. * Proposition 6: My professional practices that influence information sharing, knowledge creation and decision making are explicit iterations of my power as an administrator. * Proposition 7: Involvement in the decision making process is one of my key roles as an administrator. Decision making is a major example of the creation and use of knowledge within a school. * Proposition 8: I acknowledge that stories are a valuable way for individuals to share information and they can act as a catalyst for the creation of knowledge. * Proposition 9: Using the knowledge management discourse as a framework to support the critique of my professional practice challenges its branding as a management fad. The propositions have been developed and tested through reconnaissance and two cycles of action research. These propositions have been integrated into a model representing my capacity as an administrator to influence the creation of knowledge

Topics: knowledge management, knowledge creation, management fads, living theory action research, practitioner investigations, research reconnaissance, professional practice, decision making, educational administration, educational leadership, organisational trust, psycho-social filters
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:16346

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