Knowledge Management and ICT Adaptions as a Result of Pandemic Workplace Restrictions : A Case Study at a SME in Germany

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Institutionen för kultur och samhälle

Abstract: Aim. The purpose of this degree project was to assess the impact of the sudden, historically-unique COVID-19 workplace restrictions on the knowledge management and interrelated ICT utilization of a knowledge-intensive SME in Germany. Based upon the outcomes of this assessment, suggestions for future advancement were to be developed.Research Approach. The research approach entailed a qualitative case study addressing a single IT company with 42 employees. The research itself was conducted via triangulation, with the semi-structured interviews of four purposely sampled company executives serving as the focal part. Fundamental aspects of these interviews were further substantiated through four exploratory meeting observations and a company-wide questionnaire contributing 14 employee responses.Findings. Subject to the pandemic-related workspace restrictions, this company was forced to transition to predominantly virtual operations. The organization responded through the introduction of a new, integrated ICT for employee collaboration while simultaneously expediting the codification of tacit knowledge across two existing knowledge repositories. This focus on only a few essential ICTs led to a reduction of prior systems clutter and the company-wide accessibility of explicit knowledge – a quantum leap in terms of efficiency. Along with the primary collaboration via ICTs, a new interaction etiquette developed amongst employees, and IT-related staff was found to cooperate more actively than in the previous on-site environment. Given these insights, this German IT house is recommended to continue its emergently hybrid knowledge management strategy and consider the benefits of both the physical and virtual spaces for an office redesign past the COVID-19 limitations.Originality. Academic references attending to knowledge management during forced workplace restrictions were de facto nonexistent. Adding to it, previous studies on virtual knowledge management indicated a deterioration of performance as compared to on-site operations. This case study is hence not only unique by its pandemic link, but also countering apparent academic presupposition.

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