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					                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN




AN EXPLORATION OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN COLOMBIA

                         Tatiana Baquero, The George Washington University
                               William Schulte, Shenandoah University
                        Michael Stankosky, The George Washington University
 The purpose of this paper is to explore the status of Knowledge Management (KM) practices in private, public and
academic sectors in Colombia. The findings of this study reveal that although there is a low level of adoption of
these practices in the country, there are some interesting cases of organizations that have done good efforts in this
field.

Introduction
    Scholars and practitioners from all over the world are working to understand the value of Knowledge
Management in various countries. Yet, despite this, no specific research has been conducted on identifying KM
practices in Colombia. It is expected that the results of this research on Colombia contribute to that effort.

    The purpose of this research is to explore the status of Knowledge Management (KM) practices in private,
public and academic sectors in Colombia. Data were collected from 50 organizations in Colombia, among the
private, public and academic sectors. Through analysis of field research, including documentation, an on-line
survey, and conversations with local Colombians representing private, public and academic organizations, this study
provides a clearer understanding of the status of knowledge management in the country and the potential of
knowledge management adoption in Latin American organizations.

Literature Review
     The concept of Knowledge Management has been defined by many authors. It is important to recognize that the
concept of management varies from one country to another and even from one organization to another. As Stefan
Groeschl and Liz Doherty state, “managers within organizations hold particular sets of assumptions, ideas and
believes about how to manage their human resources which are strongly influenced by their cultural background.”
[Groeschl and Doherty 2000]. From this perspective, it is reasonable to think that even though many experts and
authors have attempted to provide global definitions of knowledge management, the process itself of managing
knowledge can change from one country to another.

     Literature in the field often quotes Davenport and Prusak for their definition of knowledge management as the
process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge [Davenport and Prusak 1998]. Another
exemplary definition states that “knowledge management is the systematic, explicit, and deliberate building, renewal
and application of knowledge to maximize an enterprise‟s knowledge-related effectiveness and returns from its
knowledge assets.” [Wigg 1997]. For purposes of this study, knowledge management can be described as leveraging
information and knowledge embedded in people, documents, processes and organizational practices to achieve
better, faster and more innovative products and services.

Knowledge Management in Colombia
     Knowledge Management is still considered an incipient business practice in Colombia. However, due to the
expansion of the knowledge-based economy, an increasing number of businessmen and academics in the country are
starting to become actively involved in analyzing and/or implementing KM practices. Experts say that there is now a
visible interest in this topic from senior management, information technology, and human resources departments in
medium to large-size organizations.




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                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


     Luis Ovidio Galvis is founder and Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) of Knowvatech, a knowledge management
consulting company that provides business solutions and supportive technologies. According to Galvis‟s comments
published in an article of the KM Magazine [Higgson 2003], a KM conference that took place in 1998 was the
starting point of knowledge management in Colombia. This conference was organized by The Knowledge Research
Institute of Arlington Texas, in alliance with Galvis and the University Pontificia Boliviariana of Medellin.

     Despite this and other efforts for introducing the concept in the country, Knowledge Management has not
received significant attention in Colombia, and consequently, the implementation of KM practices have been slow in
the private, public and academic sectors. Galvis states that one of the main reasons for this delay is that Colombia
has trailed other nations in the adoption of managerial practices that have shaped organizations in developed
countries.

Research Design and Methodology
     In addition to the previous examples a survey was conducted to collect quantitative data on knowledge
management practices in organizations throughout Colombia. In this survey, all the responses were completely
confidential. A web-based version of the instrument was designed in Microsoft Excel and developed in html format
at a web domain specifically created for this research. The survey was available in both English and Spanish, which
was the first language of the targeted population.

     The on-line survey was available for a period of one and a half months and consisted of a list of questions that
covered the following key areas of Knowledge Management (KM) to assess KM Practices among other dimensions.
Questions were based on two knowledge management survey forms, one conducted by the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) i, and the other one by the Science, Innovation and Electronic
Information Division of Statistics Canada ii. The questions were multiple-choice type and in some of them,
participants were offered with a space to provide additional information, if necessary.

     The survey was sent to medium to high-level personnel in the following organizations: Medium-large
Colombian enterprises, Multinational enterprises with offices in Colombia, Public and governmental organizations
(government) and Academic institutions (Universities in Colombia). The total sample size was estimated to be 350
organizations (among public, private and academic organizations) in the country. Out of the 350, a total of 52 survey
instruments were returned with a response rate of 15%. Out of 52 surveys, only 50 were complete and valid for
analysis.

Analysis of Results
     This section of the paper presents basic descriptive statistics for subjects in the sample on the following
dimensions: KM policies and strategies, results and effectiveness of KM, responsible level for KM, KM budget
levels, difficulties in implementing KM and incentives to implement KM.

KM Policies and Strategies
     The study shows that 46% of the organizations surveyed are planning to develop knowledge management
policies and strategies in the next 24 months, meaning that organizations are starting to recognize the importance of
implementing this type of practices.

    Very few organizations confirmed that their values systems and culture facilitated knowledge sharing practices.
However, 28% of them said that they were planning to embark on a cultural change to promote knowledge sharing
among employees. Similar results were obtained for employee retention efforts. Most of the organizations didn‟t
know or hadn‟t heard about programs that were specifically intended to promote employee retention within their
organizations. Only 14% already had policies in this field. Half of the organizations surveyed have been using
partnerships and strategic alliances to acquire knowledge even before 2003. It seems that they have concentrated
more in acquiring knowledge than in sharing it within their own organizations.




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                                                        AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


Table 1 - KM Policies and Strategies in Organizations

                                          In Use        Used Since     Plan to Use     Don't Know      TOTAL # of
                                        Before 2003       2003          in the next       / Not        Respondents
 Policies and Strategies                                                24 months       Applicable
                                        Freq.     %     Freq.     %    Freq.     %     Freq.    %     Freq.      %
 Written KM policy/strategy               7      14%      4      8%     23      46%     16    32%      50      100%
 Values/Culture that promote KM          13      26%      7     14%     14      28%     16    32%      50      100%
 Programs for employee retention         13      26%      7     14%     14      28%     16    32%      50      100%
 Partnerships to acquire knowledge       25      50%      5     10%      7      14%     13    26%      50      100%

Leadership
    The results for this question indicate that in most of the cases (40%) top managers and executives have been
leading KM tasks in their organizations even before 2003. Additionally, 22% of the respondents agreed that even
though top leaders are not in charge of KM practices yet, they are planning to lead these practices in the next 24
months.

     Additionally, 22% of the respondents stated that non-management employers were in charge of KM practices,
and more than 50% were not aware of non-management employees leading these activities in their organizations.
Similarly, about 60% the organizations agreed that they didn‟t have a Knowledge Officer or KM Unit, and 56% said
that KM wasn‟t criteria to assess employee‟s performance.

    From these results one can conclude that leadership of Knowledge Management practices is clearly a
responsibility of high-level managers and executives rather than a task delegated to other levels in the organizational
pyramid. These may be an advantage for organizations in Colombia from the view point that KM practices are
coordinated from the top, and if well managed, they can help achieving better results.

Table 2 - Leadership and Responsibility for KM Practices

                                           In Use        Used Since     Plan to Use     Don't Know      TOTAL # of
 Responsibility  of   Knowledge          Before 2003       2003          in the next       / Not        Respondents
 Management Practices                                                    24 months       Applicable
                                         Freq.    %     Freq.     %     Freq.     %     Freq.    %     Freq.     %
 Managers or Executives                   20     40%      4      8%      11      22%     15    30%      50     100%
 Non-Management Employees                 11     22%      2      4%      10      20%     27    54%      50     100%
 Knowledge Officer or KM Unit              8     16%      3      6%       9      18%     30    60%      50     100%
 KM is criteria to assess
 performance                               8     16%      2      4%      12     24%      28     56%      50    100%

Communications and Technology
    Even though a few organizations in Colombia have already implemented Knowledge Management practices,
the survey shows that they are not very familiar yet with information systems that specifically support those
practices. The classification of the technologies listed in this question was based on Marwick (2001).

    Between 28% and 36% of the organizations has used any of the following systems even before 2003:
Group/Collaboration, Search Engines, Document Management/Taxonomy, and Portals. Not many of the respondents
were familiar with expertise locators or speech recognition systems; these may be more advanced tools that go
beyond the traditional KM systems requirements in a developing country like Colombia. However, between 16%
and 22% said that is planning to use them in the following 2 years.




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                                                       AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


     Respondents were provided with a space to share other knowledge management systems that were not listed in
the survey form. Fourteen percent of the respondent organizations said that they also use, or are planning to use, the
following systems: (a) a query system with the international office of intellectual property (WIPO), (b) a lessons
learned repository, (c) systems developed internally based on their own models and methodologies, and (d) IT tools
to support corporate divisions meetings. A couple of additional responses indicated that although they use some of
the technologies listed in the survey, they didn‟t identify them by the name or they simply call them differently.

Table 3 - Communications and Technology

                                          In Use        Used Since     Plan to Use     Don't Know      TOTAL # of
 Technologies used to share             Before 2003       2003          in the next       / Not        Respondents
 knowledge or information among                                         24 months       Applicable
 employees
                                        Freq.     %     Freq.     %    Freq.     %     Freq.    %     Freq.     %
 Expertise Locators                       5     10%       6     12%     11      22%     28    56%      50     100%
 Group/Collaboration                     16     32%       4      8%     10      20%     20    40%      50     100%
 Speech Recognition                       2      4%       1      2%      8      16%     39    78%      50     100%
 Search Engines                          14     28%       6     12%     11      22%     19    38%      50     100%
 Document Management/Taxonomy            18     36%       6     12%     10      20%     16    32%      50     100%
 Portals                                 16     32%       5     10%     10      20%     19    38%      50     100%

Effectiveness of Knowledge Management Practices
     In the survey form, respondents were asked to continue with Section II (questions 2.1 through 6.0) only if their
organizations had already implemented any kind of KM practice in relation to policies, strategies, leadership and
technologies, as stated in Section I (questions 1.1 through 1.3). Only 39 of the 50 organizations surveyed responded
this section.

    As shown in Table 4, most of the organizations agreed that their Knowledge Management practices have been
„somewhat effective‟. The most significant improvements include increased knowledge sharing both horizontally
and vertically, higher efficiency and productivity levels, better customer‟s relations, improved organizational
memory, and greater ability to capture knowledge from third parties.

    A smaller percentage considered that their Knowledge Management practices have been „very effective‟. Better
customer relations, increased flexibility and innovation, and more involvement from employees in the workplace,
were among the most important improvements under this category.

     On the other hand, some organizations responded that their Knowledge Management practices „hadn‟t been
effective at all‟. Their major challenges included a lack to increase knowledge sharing vertically, to develop new
products and services, and to get employees more involved in the workplace activities. Other difficulties mentioned
were: inability to reduce duplication of processes, failure to increase competitiveness and to improve corporate
image in their industries.

Responsibility of Knowledge Management Practices
     In this question, people were asked to choose only one response. The outcomes displayed in Table 5 show that
in 33% of the organizations the executive management team is the one responsible for Knowledge Management
activities. This supports the results of question about Leadership. In other organizations, the department of Human
Resources or the Knowledge Management Unit is the area in charge of Knowledge Management practices. Twenty-
three percent of the respondents chose Human Resources while 18% chose the KM Unit.

    Some organizations also mentioned the Quality Control department as the area responsible for KM Practices,
while others emphasized that it was a shared responsibility among the management team, planning, IT and human
resources departments. An academic institution stated that the whole community of professors, students, and
administrative staff shared this responsibility.


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                                                     AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


Table 4 - Effectiveness of Knowledge Management Practices

                                           Very        Somewhat       Not at all      Don't Know    TOTAL # of
                                         effective      effective     effective           / Not     Respondents
 Knowledge Management Practices                                                        Applicable
                                       Freq.    %     Freq.    %     Freq.     %      Freq.     %   Freq.     %
 Increased K sharing horizontally       12     31%     20     51%      2      5%        5     13%    39     100%
 Increased K sharing vertically          7     18%     21     54%      7     18%        4     10%    39     100%
 Improved Efficiency &
 Productivity                           11     28%     20     51%      2      5%        6    15%     39     100%
 Improved Customer Relations            15     38%     18     46%      2      5%        4    10%     39     100%
 New Products & Services                13     33%     16     41%      6     15%        4    10%     39     100%
 More Flexibility & Innovation          14     36%     16     41%      4     10%        5    13%     39     100%
 Improved Organizational Memory         13     33%     19     49%      4     10%        3    8%      39     100%
 Increased ability to capture K         10     26%     21     54%      3      8%        5    13%     39     100%
 Employees involvement in
 workplace                              14     36%     14     36%      7     18%        4    10%     39     100%

Table 5 - Responsibility of Knowledge Management Practices

                         Organizational Groups                   Frequency         Percent
                         Human Resources                              9              23%
                         Information Technology                       5              13%
                         KM Unit                                      7              18%
                         Library / Doc. Center                        1              3%
                         Executive Mgmt. Team                        13              33%
                         Other                                        3              8%
                         Don't Know                                   1              3%
                         Total                                       39             100%

Measurement of Effectiveness in Knowledge Management Practices
     In this question people were asked to respond if their organizations measured the effectiveness of knowledge
management practices. Seventy-seven percent responded that they don‟t measure it, while only 35% of them do in
any of the following forms: Key performance indicators, Evaluation of Employment Performance, Number of
proposals presented vs. number of projects closed, Balance scorecard, Intellectual capital measurement, Customer
Satisfaction and other qualitative measures.

Spending on Knowledge Management Practices
    From the 39 organizations surveyed, only 41% stated that they had a specific budget or spending for knowledge
management practices, while 59% of them don‟t have one yet. As Table 6 shows, out of the 16 organizations that do
have a budget for KM, 63% expect this budget to increase in the following 24 months, and 25% estimate that it will
remain the same as it is today.

    Table 7 indicates that out of the 23 organizations that currently don‟t have a budget dedicated to Knowledge
Management practices, 39% of them expect to have a budget in the following 24 months. Another 39% didn‟t know
whether their organizations were considering having a budget within that timeframe.




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                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN



Table 6 - Budget Expectation in Organizations with Budget for Knowledge Management Practices

                         Budget in the next 24 months              Frequency      Percent
                         Increase                                      10           63%
                         Decrease                                       1           6%
                         Stay the Same                                  4           25%
                         Don't Know                                     1           6%
                         Total                                         16          100%

Table 7 - Budget expectation in Organizations that don‟t have a Budget for Knowledge Management Practices

                         Budget in the next 24 months              Frequency      Percent
                         Yes                                            9           39%
                         No                                             5           22%
                         Don't Know                                     9           39%
                         Total                                         23          100%

Difficulties to Implement Knowledge Management Practices
    The majority of the organizations agreed that the difficulty to capture employees‟ undocumented knowledge
and the lack of time and resources are the primary challenges when implementing knowledge management practices.
Other reasons that were also important include: resistance of certain groups or staff, lack of senior management
commitment, and a strong focus on information and communication technology rather than on people.

Table 8 - Reasons for the Shortcomings when Implementing Knowledge Management Practices

                  Reasons                                       Yes          No        TOTAL
                  Focus on technology, not on people            18           21          39
                  Lack of time or resources                     35           4           39
                  Employees‟ resistance                         21           18          39
                  Lack of senior management commitment          16           23          39
                  Difficulty to capture undocumented K.         32           7           39
                  Concern about confidential information        12           27          39
                  Knowledge management is not a priority        13           26          39


Incentives to Implement Knowledge Management Practices
     In this question, organizations were asked to choose from a list one or more motives that would encourage them
to implement for the first time, or increase the use of, knowledge management practices. Table 9 shows that 68% of
the people would implement these practices to avoid loosing knowledge when key personnel leave the organization.
Additionally, 56% of the respondents agreed that the difficulty to capture employees‟ undocumented knowledge and
the challenge to incorporate external knowledge are very important reasons to implement knowledge management
practices. Forty-eight percent said that knowledge management would help them to avoid loosing market share,
while 44% agreed that it would help them to deal with information overload within their organizations.

     Additional reasons that the respondents mentioned included: (a) to solve operational problems, (b) to reduce the
implementation timeframe of projects that have a significant impact in the organization, (c) to become more
effective in the implementation of corporate strategies, (d) to offer better products and services to encourage
sustainable development in the country, (e) to facilitate the corporate decision-making process by making available
key information and knowledge, and (f) to manage knowledge as it is essential for academic institutions.



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                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN



Table 9 - Incentives to Implement Knowledge Management Practices

  Incentives                                                               Frequency          Percent of Total

  Information overload                                                         22                   44%
  Capture undocumented knowledge                                               28                   56%
  Competitors use KM practices                                                 15                   30%
  Loss of key personnel                                                        34                   68%
  Market share loss                                                            24                   48%
  Incorporate external knowledge                                               28                   56%
  Other                                                                         6                   12%

Conclusions
     The main purpose of this research was to determine the degree in which the Colombian private, public and
academic sectors have adopted Knowledge Management (KM) practices. The evidence collected suggests that the
level of adoption of knowledge management practices in Colombia‟s private, public and academic sectors is very
low. These findings are subject to limitations discussed at the end of this paper.

     Not many organizations have an employee retention program, a culture that promotes knowledge transfer, or
have implemented knowledge management policies and strategies. However, a larger group of organizations is
considering implementing them in the short term. This shows that there is a great potential for consulting companies
that want to provide services to support the development of KM policies and business strategies for organizations in
Colombia.

    This survey also identified that among the organizations that already have knowledge management practices,
most of these practices are a responsibility of the executive management team. Not many organizations have
created, or have heard about, knowledge officers or KM Units.

     Moreover, the survey results show that only few organizations in Colombia have implemented information
systems that specifically support knowledge management practices. There is a lack of information about the systems
available for this purpose, and a lack or resources to acquire the ones that are recognized. Group/Collaboration,
Search Engines, Document Management/Taxonomy, and Portals are among some of the most used KM systems in
Colombia.

    The findings about the effectiveness of knowledge management practices suggest that in some organizations
these practices have primarily helped them to increase knowledge sharing both horizontally and vertically, to
achieve higher efficiency and productivity levels, to have better customer‟s relations, to improve organizational
memory, and to have greater ability to capture knowledge from third parties. However, it is important to notice that
only a small percentage of the organizations surveyed have methodologies to measure the effectiveness of their
knowledge management practices. These organizations need to understand that when something is not measured, it
cannot be controlled or improved.

     In addition, the results of the data analysis reveal that a small group of the organizations surveyed have a
dedicated budget for knowledge management practices, while a significant number of organizations are expecting to
have one in the next 24 months for the first time. The results also show that the major challenges that organizations
in Colombia are currently facing when implementing knowledge management practices include: the difficulty to
capture employees‟ undocumented knowledge and the lack of time and resources to implement and maintain those
practices. Moreover, most of the organizations manifested their interest in implementing, or increasing the use of,
knowledge management practices to avoid loosing knowledge when key personnel leave the organization, to more
easily capture employees‟ undocumented knowledge, and to overcome the challenge of incorporating external
knowledge.




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                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


Case Studies
    Although the general findings of this survey suggest low adoption levels of knowledge management in
Colombia, there are some interesting cases of organizations in the private, public and academic sectors that have
implemented knowledge management practices. The following section of this paper provides a review of these
cases.

Private Sector
     At the corporate level, KM initiatives have faced several barriers, according to the memories of the KM Forum
organized by Cognitia in Colombia in July 2003 [Piñeros 2003]. First of all, KM has not been incorporated into
daily work activities, and knowledge sharing is often seen as a way of loosing power. Second, KM is often
perceived as a theory than as a practical tool, leading to the resistance of implementing these activities. Third, KM
projects compete internally for budget and other resources, with other several projects that, as opposed to KM
projects, are believed to provide short-term results.

     Some experts believe that there has been increased KM activity in diverse industries, especially in the
telecommunications and energy sectors. However, it seems that other industries such as insurance and transportation
are also getting into KM. Below are some of the examples taken from the Knowledge Management Forum
organized by Cognitia in 2003 and other sources:

        In ORBITEL, a telecommunications company, members of the management team are also involved in the
         Knowledge Management group. Some of the KM practices that they are using include knowledge maps and
         lessons learned to promote team work and to add value to clients.
        Transmilenio, the enterprise that created an innovative and efficient transportation system in Bogota,
         Colombia, has develop such unique and specialized knowledge that now represents a new source of income
         for the company. By providing consulting services nationally and internationally, Transmilenio is taking
         advantage of its most important assets: intellectual capital.
        Servientrega is a Colombian delivery company that specializes in shipping packages around the country.
         Servientrega understands the value of capturing and sharing its people‟s knowledge, and has started to
         develop an e-learning and knowledge transfer strategy that includes documents management, Intranet
         content management, on-line guidelines and training sessions. Additionally, with the creation of an internal
         committee and a group of leaders, Servientrega is facilitating the knowledge transfer process in the
         company. The Research and Development team also is contributing to improve the company‟s knowledge
         in 4 main areas: logistics, marketing, management and technology.
        Interactuar is a software development company located in Medellín that is working on developing Web-
         based applications that support knowledge management strategies for Colombian enterprises.
        The bank Bancafe is doing some research on tools to measure intangible capital in the organization, in
         particular intellectual capital.
        Alianza Summa is an alliance among three Airline companies (Avianca, SAM y ACES) that serves Central
         America, Peru and Colombia. It has already started to take advantage of corporate knowledge management
         by implementing knowledge creation methodologies and knowledge application strategies. These strategies
         are the result of a model proposed specifically for Alianza Summa in a thesis of the Pontificia Universidad
         Javeriana in Bogota [Martinez 2003]. To date, Alianza Summa has partially implemented the model, and
         will soon start developing a supporting information technology platform to continue the implementation of
         the proposed knowledge management model.

     In recent years, the flower industry in Colombia has experienced an accelerated evolution, specially because of
the implementation of knowledge management practices, as stated by Catalina Garcia and Maria Ortega in their
research study on Knowledge Management in Colombia [Garcia and Ortega 1999]. However, they concluded that,
even though organizations in this industry have utilized KM related practices, they are often found under a different
name or simply applied unconsciously.




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                                                     AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


     In the private sector there are also consulting companies, such as Knowvatech and Cognitia, that specialize in
implementing knowledge management solutions. Knowvatech is a knowledge management company that creates
and applies KM methodologies with supporting software tools. Its solutions portfolio includes strategic support and
development in the areas of: intellectual capital, lessons learned, knowledge maps, and organizational learning
programs. Similarly, Cognita is actively involved in organizing workshops in the country to support organizations
that want to implement e-learning practices, and knowledge management methodologies, among many others.

Multinational enterprises with office in Colombia
    In Colombia, it is easier to find knowledge management practices in enterprises with foreign headquarters than
in Colombian enterprises. There are two specific business cases that GestionHumana.com has listed in its on-line
knowledge bank as examples of the successful cases of knowledge management practices in multinational
enterprises, including the Skandia, Siemens and British Petroleum (BP). GestionHumana.com is a human resources
management company in Colombia.

    Skandia, the Swedish insurance company, was the 11th company most admired for its KM performance in
2000, according to Gerardo Gonzalez, Former Manager of the Intellectual Capital Project for Skandia South
America and current President of Skandia Colombia iii. KM became a business model in the Swedish headquarters in
1993, and continued spreading out through the countries until it reached Skandia Colombia two years later.
Skandia has implemented globally, including in Colombia, information systems to identify and improve intellectual
capital, to measure the knowledge contribution by organizational area, to encourage continuous learning, and to
simulate scenarios for better decision-making [Dueñas 2003].

    Siemens has been in Colombia since 1954 offering communications and energy solutions and during the last
decade it has concentrated it efforts in putting together all it employees‟ expertise in a single repositoryiv. The
ShareNet is a KM system adopted by the company, based on Siemens‟ belief that the recipe for successful
knowledge management combines people and technology [Dueñas 2003].

    British Petroleum (BP), the multinational petroleum company with offices in Colombia, has as a knowledge
management program based on a culture of cooperation that facilitates good relationships among employees v. The
main purpose of the program is to embed knowledge into the daily activities and to create knowledge constantly to
improve processes. The implementation of knowledge management practices has brought remarkable results for the
company, such as reducing the cost of oil wells by 60%.

    Other companies that are implementing KM practices in Colombia include COLSEGUROS and General Motors
(GM). In COLSEGUROS, which is now part of a multinational company, KM is recognized as part of the
corporate and management strategy, while in General Motors-Colmotores the KM team has created a plan to
stimulate knowledge generation and sharing among employees.

Public Sector
    Codensa is one of the leading power companies in Colombia that distributes electric power in more than 90
municipalities throughout the country. This is a mixed type of company, since 51% is government owned and 49%
is owned by the Spanish group ENDESA. Codensa has started some knowledge management related initiatives,
which include the implementation of collaboration tools, documents management, and e-learning activities.
However, some efforts are heading already towards the implementation of a true KM project in 2004.

     In Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EEPPM), one of the most prestigious utilities companies in the country,
top and medium–level managers support the Knowledge Management strategy. This strategy is linked to the
implementation of information systems and has had to face a major challenge: to achieve a cultural change.
Additionally, EEPPM created a specialized team to share the company‟s internal knowledge by offering consulting
services to other enterprises.

    Empresa de Telefonos de Bogota (ETB), one of the most recognized telephony services companies in
Colombia, is often considered as a public organization based on the fact that the main investor is a governmental



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entity, the Capital District of Bogota, Colombia. The company has been talking about the importance of managing
knowledge since about 2000. Recently, the concept has gained more interest from inside the company and now a
Knowledge Management project is under implementation. This project covers the following areas: human talent
competencies, knowledge networks, knowledge management models and tools, and a methodology to identify
knowledge needs. In the near time ETB will start implementing a pilot KM program for the product development
division of the marketing area.

     The National Archives of Colombia has also taken big steps on the Knowledge Management field since as
early as 2001. This has been critical for its core activities based on the fact that it manages and processes the
information memories of the entire country.

Academia
     The following table summarizes the status of Knowledge Management in universities and other academic
institutions in Colombia. This information is the result of conversations with scholars from various academic
institutions.

Table 10 - Knowledge Management Initiatives in Academic Institutions

 Academic Institution      KM Development
 Universidad Central       INGENIUM, the Center for Innovation and Organizational Management of the
 (Bogota)                  university, offers a Knowledge Management certificate program under the Business
                           Administration departmentvi
 Universidad de Ibague     The university is leading a thesis about knowledge management practices in Tolima‟s
 Coruniversitaria          manufacturing Pymes (Tolima‟s small and medium manufacturing enterprises). vii
 (Ibague)
 Universidad de            Since 2001, the university has offered a Master Program called Human Talent
 Manizales (Manizales)     Management that has a concentration area in knowledge management.
 Institucion               CEIPA created a Knowledge Management Group two years ago with the intent to
 Universitaria CEIPA       develop its own knowledge management model and associated processes viii.
 (Medellin)
 Universidad de la Salle   Even though the university doesn‟t have program or course that is specifically targeted
 (Bogota)                  to knowledge management, there are professors and graduate students of the Librarian
                           and Archives Manager Program that have started to show some interested in the topic.
 Universidad de la         This university offers a seminar in knowledge management.
 Sabana (Bogota)
 Universidad de            This university offers a certificate program in Web-based Knowledge Management
 Antioquia (Medellin)      and Digital Communications.
 Universidad de Los        There is no specific knowledge management model that has been implemented at the
 Andes (Bogota)            institutional level. However, a couple of students presented their thesis on KM applied
                           to the flowers sector. Also, in 2004 there was an academic discussion about knowledge
                           management as part of an Industrial Engineering event organized by the universityix.
 Universidad Pontificia    A Knowledge Management class is offered to the post-graduate students. Also, the
 Bolivariana (UPB)         university led a thesis on Technology Management called “Increasing organizations‟
 (Medellin)                intelligence by discovering knowledge in databases” x
 Instituto Technologico    Although there is interest in the topic from the academic point of view, there is neither
 Comfenalco                a knowledge management program that has been implemented at the institutional
 (Cartagena)               level, nor a course about knowledge management xi.
 Universidad Nacional      In the postgraduate studies, master programs and doctorate programs there are no
 de Colombia               courses specifically about knowledge management. However, the MBA seems to have
 (Bogota)                  some related topics.
 Universidad EAFIT         The university offers a Certificate Degree in Knowledge Management. Additionally,
 (Medellin)                several courses and seminars related to business management include lectures on
                           knowledge management.



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                                                      AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


Limitations
     This study had various limitations. First, the sample size was low. Other limitations include: time, distance,
access to people and info, lack of literature available on KM in Colombia, and sampling error (not randomly
selected). Numerous people from the academic sector showed a lot of their interest in the topic and shared with the
investigator the initiatives that their academic institutions have implemented. However, very few of them responded
to the survey.

Recommendations
     Additional data collection will be required in order to increase the validity of the results, especially from
governmental organizations and academic institutions. A larger sample will be also helpful to perform an analysis
discriminated by sector, private, government and academic.

     In a future study it would be ideal to include in the survey instrument questions about the 4 pillars of KM. In
this study only organization, leadership and technology were considered in specific questions, but no questions were
specifically related to find out information about the learning pillar. A revised survey instrument should not only
consider these suggestions, but also, it needs to reflect the evolution of the knowledge management field.

     Future research could also strengthen the spectrum of the influence of Colombia‟s national culture in the
implementation of knowledge management practices. Literature from Hofstede and Trompennars is a good point of
reference for this field. Understanding better to what extent national culture influences those practices would
significantly contribute to develop better knowledge management strategies for organizations in the country.

Notes
i
   Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2002), "Survey on Knowledge Management
Practices", available at: www.oecd.org
ii
    Statistics Canada, Tunney's Pasture, "Knowledge Management Practices Survey" (2001), available at:
www.statcan.ca
iii
    GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Gerencia del conocimiento/Skandia: El conocimiento que da la ventaja”, available
at: www.gestionhumana.com
iv
    GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Caso/Siemens: Compartiendo Maestría”, available at: www.gestionhumana.com
v
    GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Gerencia del conocimiento/British Petroleum: Compartiendo experiencias”,
available at: www.gestionhumana.com
vi
    Velásquez, Álvaro (2004), interviewed by Baquero, T., May.
vii
     Contreras, Josefina (2004), interviewed by Baquero T., May.
viii
     Mazo, Diego (2004), interviewd by Baquero, T, May, Medellín, Colombia.
ix
     Menjura, Jesus, (2004) Interviewed by Baquero T., June.
x
    Gallon, Luciano (2004), interviewed by Baquero T., June.
xi
    Jimenez, Joaquin (2004), interviewed by Baquero T., May.

References
Contreras, Josefina (Director of the Financial Management Program, Universidad de Ibague Coruniversitaria, and
Master in Human Talent Management, Universidad de Ibague, Colombia) (2004), interviewed by Baquero T., May.

Davenport, Thomas, and Prusak, Laurence (1998), Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They
Know, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

Gallon, Luciano (Engineering Faculty Director and professor of the Knowledge Management class, Universidad
Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia), (2004) interviewed by Baquero T., June.




                                                        58
                                                     AIB-SE (USA) 2004 Annual Meeting, Knoxville, TN


García-Ordóñez, Catalina, and Ortega, Maria (1999), Gerencia del Conocimiento, Industrial Engineering Thesis,
Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.

GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Caso/Siemens: Compartiendo Maestría”, available at: www.gestionhumana.com

GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Gerencia del conocimiento/British Petroleum: Compartiendo experiencias”, available
at: www.gestionhumana.com

GestionHumana.com. (2000), “Gerencia del conocimiento/Skandia: El conocimiento que da la ventaja”, available at:
www.gestionhumana.com

Groeschl, Stefan, and Doherty, Liz (2000) "Conceptualizing Culture", Cross Cultural Management: An International
Journal, 7(4), 12-17.

Higgison, Sandra (2003), “Country Focus: Colombia”, KM Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 3, page 42, available at:
www.kmmagazine.com

Jimenez, Joaquin (Professor and Research Associate, Instituto Tecnologico Comfenalco, Colombia), (2004),
interviewed by Baquero T., May.

Martinez, Laura (2003) "Diseño del Proceso de Gestión del Conocimiento en Alianza Summa", Thesis Pontificia
Universidad Javeriana, Bogotas, Colombia.

Mazo, Diego (Vice-Principal, Institucion Universitaria CEIPA), and Rodriguez Wilson (Knowledge Management
Group Director, Institucion Universitaria CEIPA), (2004), interviewd by Baquero, T, May, Medellin, Colombia.

Menjura, Jesus (Information Systems Manager and Librarian, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia), (2004)
Interviewed by Baquero T., June.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2002), "Survey on Knowledge Management
Practices", available at: www.oecd.org

Piñeros, David (2003), Knowledge Management Forum, Cognitia Limitada, Colombia.

Piñeros, David (2002), “Are You Sure That What You Want is Virtual Training?”, Gestion del Conocimiento,
available at: www.gestiondelconocimiento.com

Statistics Canada, Tunney's Pasture, "Knowledge Management Practices Survey" (2001), available at:
www.statcan.ca

Dueñas, Yina (2003), Thesis on Knowledge Management in Colombia, Tunja, Colombia.

Velásquez, Álvaro (Director of the Business Administration School, Universidad Central, Colombia) (2004),
interviewed by Baquero, T., May.

Wigg, Karl (1997). Knowledge Management: Where Did It Come From and Where
Will it Go? Expert Systems With Applications, Pergamon Press/Elsevier, Vol. 14.




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