Knowledge Management in a High-Risk Organisation: A Case Study on an Aviation School
Abstract: This qualitative research aims to observe, understand and provide an overview regarding the knowledge management processes at a high-risk organisation such as an aviation school that does not have an established knowledge management system, but has reported zero accidents during its 35 years of operation, achieving an excellent safety record that demonstrates its high level of reliability. The research follows an interpretive tradition and more specifically the hermeneutic approach. Empirical data was collected by interviewing and observing instructors at the aviation school, as well as by collecting company’s documents, aiming to answer how knowledge is created and shared among instructors at a high-risk organisation such as an aviation school and what factors encourage or hinder knowledge creation and sharing between instructors. Our findings suggest that culture is a contextual factor positively affecting the instructors’ high level of trust, identity, perception of time as a constraint, as well as how conflicts are not allowed to escalate at LUSA. Further, we suggest that LUSA’s culture positively influence instructors to share knowledge throughout informal (discussions, voluntary mentorships) and formal (meetings, shadowing, research groups) practices, which are facilitated by technological systems and manuals. Concluding, this thesis contributes to theory and practice by providing a detailed description of all the practices and factors of a small high-risk organisation operating with excellence. Despite not having an established knowledge management system, the organisation continuously shares knowledge through an open and sincere culture that focuses on safety and embraces sharing and learning, influencing the instructors’ self-view and encouraging knowledge sharing attitudes.
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