The use of Knowledge Management and its impact on factors for change readiness

A research investigation

Master's Thesis, 2015

141 Pages, Grade: 2


Table of Contents



List of Graphs

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Chapter 1: Aims of the Dissertation
1.1. Goals of the Research
1.2. Introduction to Problem
1.3. Definitions
1.4. Research Objective

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Readiness for Change
2.3. Behaviour and Knowledge
2.4. Knowledge Management
2.5. Conclusions from literature review

Chapter 3: Research Methodology
3.1. Research approach
3.2. Survey testing
3.3. Interview testing

Chapter 4: Presentation of the Results
4.1. Survey Results
4.1.1. MB (MB)
4.1.2. Borderless Lifescience Group (XYZ)
4.1.3. Open survey to Pharmaceutical Specialists
4.2. Summary of survey findings
4.3. In-depth Interviews
4.3.1. Overview Participants
4.3.2. Interview Analysis
4.3.3. Interview Coding
4.3.4. Interview analysis support for Hypotheses

Chapter 5: Meaning of findings for Knowledge Management
5.1.1. Creating Knowledge
5.1.2. Creating Willingness
5.1.3. Creating Skill

Chapter 6: Limitation and Recommendations for Future Research

Chapter 7: Bibliography

Chapter 8: Appendices
8.1. Survey
8.1.1. Survey (English translation, Paper version)
8.1.2. Survey (German Original, Paper Version)
8.2. Interview
8.2.1. Interview topic guide (English translation)
8.2.2. Interview summary Participant 1
8.2.3. Interview summary Participant 2
8.2.4. Interview summary Participant 3
8.2.5. Interview summary Participant 4
8.2.6. Interview summary Participant 5
8.2.7. Interview summary Participant 6
8.2.8. Interview summary Participant 7
8.2.9. Interview summary Participant 8
8.2.10. Interview summary Participant 9


I would like to thank:

- Dwight Thomas, my Dissertation Advisor, for his encouragement, constructive feedback and excellent and helpful comments.
- All instructors of the University of Liverpool who supported my development and progress in knowledge gain and critical reflection.
- The management and employees of XYZ Executive Search for their co- operation and participation in this research. They provided personal views about sensible topics, which contributed to the research.  The management and employees of the MB who invested a significant amount of time and have been open and honest in providing insights in sensible topics which contributed to this research.
- All participants of the survey from the XING social media group Pharma who contributed in the survey. A special thanks to the participants of the personal interviews who openly shared their personal opinions and sensible information.
- My friends Julia, Jenny and Rolf for reviewing, proof reading and testing the survey and interview questions and for their overall constructive feedback.
- My wife for her endless understanding, motivation and critical questioning.


A research investigation into the use of Knowledge Management and its impact on factors for change readiness.


Frank Voggenreiter

The dissertation aimed at the identification of change readiness factors in a German culture and knowledge worker environment and to relate them to Knowledge Management. Knowledge Management was expected to have serious impact possibilities on people’s capabilities to support change and to provide tools to actively influence people’s behaviour and Change Readiness. An online survey has been used to collect quantitative data and provide the foundation for the selection of interview participants. Nine people from two companies and from members of a social network group were selected based on their survey answers, invited to participate in a personal interview and interviewed individually in January 2014. A topic guide and circular asking techniques have been used to allow in-depth insights in peoples observation of their Change Readiness factors. More than 9 hours of audio material have been recorded and a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the interviews has been conducted.

The results of the research showed that Change Readiness can be seen as an active decision from resistance to support of change and that this active decision is highly dependent on information, understanding and subjective perception of the personal capabilities. The goal of a change initiative needs to be clear and the underlying reasons for the expected behavioural change needs to be understood by people affected by change. It could also be shown that even if people want to support change they are not automatically capable to amend their behaviour. The Change Readiness factors build on each other. If information is provided, it still needs to be understood. If it is understood, people still need to accept the impact on their personal environment and daily tasks. If all fears and insecurities are addressed and they want to follow, they might still require support in terms of resources like processes, training or time. The identified challenge lies in the individuality of people. Not all people require the same information, knowledge or resources to be ready for change. Therefore dialogue and participation have been identified as the factors for Knowledge Management to impact Change Readiness. Knowledge Management can impact by supporting creation of environments of trust and open flows of information. If a firm achieves that people address their needs, ask their questions and receive honest answers, Change Readiness can be increased according to the individuals participating in this research. Even so resources were recognized as helpful, they were not seen as critical factors for Change Readiness. One participant confirmed it as a main point that made it difficult to adapt his behaviour. Despite all mentioned change situations have been very different, there is agreement that feeling part of the change process, being able to influence even smallest decisions, and being heard and included, helps people overcome fears. Fears and insecurities were mentioned as main blockers for Change Readiness. If the insecure future and the fear is addressed and people can think of their own way to support reaching the bigger goal, these fears are reduced and seen as personal challenges. Although empowerment is not a part of Knowledge Management and therefore not part of this dissertation’s objectives, it turned up as a powerful possibility for companies to increase change readiness. In the group of knowledge workers who have contributed to this research, insecurities and fears were experienced when people felt excluded or directed. The change from a valued specialist to a directed follower without a chance to enter into dialogue and take responsibility made people feel excluded and not responsible. Trust is required to accept a change, the less information shared, the more trust is required. Not sharing information reduces trust, which leads to a dilemma that many companies face when inducing change. The personal experiences of the participants reflected this phenomenon. Therefore giving people the information they require, opening channels of dialogue, showing honesty and empowering people to be part of the change are the key factors creating change readiness according to the findings of this work. Knowledge Management can support these factors, through sharing explicit knowledge via different channels, supporting environments of informal knowledge exchange, invitation to dialogue and creation of secured anonymized feedback channels from affected employees. Knowledge management also needs to support people who are ready to change but require resources as training, literature or behavioural coaching. At the end of this work a Change Readiness Framework for Knowledge Management is presented which summarizes the key dependences and logics identified.

List of Graphs

Graph 1 Culture GER - USA (Hofstede, n.d.)

Graph 2 Gender MB

Graph 3 Age MB

Graph 4 Working for MB

Graph 5 Change frequency MB

Graph 6 Kind of change MB

Graph 7 Change as strain MB

Graph 8 Important factors for Change Readiness

Graph 9 Gender XYZ

Graph 10 Age XYZ

Graph 11 Working with XYZ

Graph 12 Change frequency XYZ

Graph 13 Kind of change XYZ

Graph 14 Change as strain XYZ

Graph 15 Factors for change readiness XYZ

Graph 16 Headquarter in Germany Open Survey

Graph 17 Size of company Open Survey

Graph 18 Kind of employer Open survey

Graph 19 Global reach Open Survey

Graph 20 Gender Open Survey

Graph 21 Age structure Open Survey

Graph 22 Time in Germany Open Survey

Graph 23 Work office or Field Open Survey

Graph 24 Time with employer Open Survey

Graph 25 Change per year Open Survey

Graph 26 Kind of change Open Survey

Graph 27 Change as strain Open Survey

Graph 28 Ranking change readiness factors Open Survey

List of Illustrations

Illustration 1 Goals 1-4 (Source: Author)

Illustration 2 I4 framework (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999, p.532)

Illustration 3 SECI Process (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000, p.12)

Illustration 4 Ba (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000, p.14)

Illustration 5 Word cloud (Source: Author created in dedoose)

Illustration 6 Parent codes

Illustration 7 Screenshot of co-occurrence spread-sheet colouring

List of Tables

Table 1 Comparison I4, SECI and ba (Source: Author)

Table 2 Change Readiness factors ranking results

Table 3 Overview Participants

Table 4 Participant Categorization

Table 5 Amount of Code application

Chapter 1: Aims of the Dissertation

The relationship between knowledge management and its impact on an employee’s ability to follow the fast-paced organizational changes required in a fluctuating economic environment is the topic of this work. In 1969 Peter Drucker recognized the need for standard employees to learn how to manage and to understand existing requirements set by the economic conditions to improve the flexibility and strength to make decisions (Drucker, 1969). Employees facing change have to make a decision to participate and change their routines and behaviours. Leaving old knowledge behind and acquiring new knowledge is an active process that can be supported by Knowledge Management1 (Slater and Narver, 1995, p.65-69), which represents change. Managing change is a challenge organizations face more frequently than ever before. For an organization the goal cannot be just to manage change projects, but instead to manage the company in a way that people are ready for continuous change.

This level of change readiness is impacted by several factors (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006). The focus of this work is the impact of Knowledge Management on the change readiness.

1.1. Goals of the Research

To identify relationships between Knowledge Management and behavioural change the research is intended to achieve the following goals:

Goal 1: Successful selection of relevant sub-group participants with the criteria of exposure to change of behaviour.

Goal 2: Identification of knowledge flows between employees and hierarchy layers in the work environment (both formal, informal).

Goal 3: Evaluation of the participant’s personal need to be ready for change behaviour: information, skill and meaning.

Goal 4: Categorization of participant’s capability and willingness for change behaviour: Able but not willing, willing but unable, unwilling and unable, able and willing.

The following graphic visualizes what data are to be collected and how the goals 1-4 build the base for further data analyses.

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Illustration 1 Goals 1-4 (Source: Author)

After collecting data for Goals 1-4 the information is correlated to identify possible relationships between Knowledge Management and behavioural change. The goals 5-6 therefore are:

Goal 5: Analyses of the relationship of participant’s capability and willingness to change and individual needs.

Goal 6: Analyses of the relationship of individual need to knowledge flow and availability of knowledge.

The results of identifying the relationship between Knowledge Management, individual need and the capability and willingness of behavioural change are intended to show the impact and basis for behavioural change barriers related to Knowledge Management and the role of individual need differences.

1.2. Introduction to Problem

Continuous change in organizations require continuous change of individuals working in these companies. Studies have provided evidence that personal change readiness is positively related to successful organizational change (Wittenstein, 2008, p.146). Individual change requires energy and energy is not an endless resource people can rely on (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p.108). To ensure that the available energy is not used to overcome change barriers, but is effectively used to fulfil the daily tasks at work, it is important to achieve a high readiness for change through individual and environmental factors (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p.108). The continuous confrontation of companies with environmental factors forcing them to change (Balogan and Jenkins, 2003) (Child, 2005) (Roberts, 2004) require that organizations approach change not as a necessary exception of normal, but define change as the standard and amend their organization in a way that ensures a high level of individual change readiness is created (Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder, 1993) (Backer, 1998) (Cummings and Worley, 2009) (Cunningham et al., 2002). Despite this known necessity the majority of change projects are not successful (Decker et al., 2012). The mismatch between a high required level of change readiness and the low success rate of change projects is a problem that will increase with an increasing change frequency in our world of globalized markets. This work will analyse the possibilities Knowledge Management can have on increasing the success of change projects by increasing the general change readiness.

Based on the understanding that needs are individual and can’t be generalized (Cummings and Worley, 2009) (Deci and Ryan, 2000) (Haisch, 2003) (Tay and Diener, 2011) (Villarica, 2011) and in contrast to the generalized need definition based on Maslow’s need pyramid (Maslow, 1954) (Maslow, 1965), the bi-directional knowledge transfer between the participants of change are considered crucial to impact the intangibles as well as the power level (Hanpachern, Morgan and Griego, 1998) and therefore increase the Change Readiness. If need is an individual and diverse factor that can’t be generalized, the needs in relation to changing behaviour are considered as individual as well. A need assessment without dialogue and feedback remains an assumption without validity for the individual. How the missing upward information flow from an employee to management, in particular, impacts positive change and creates a mismatch of individual need and given information is not covered by existing research. This work adds to the rich and detailed data and results already existing in relation to Change Readiness e.g. from Armenakis and Harris (2002), Backer (1998), Cummings and Worley (2009), Cunningham et al. (2002), (Hanpachern, Morgan and Griego, 1998), Kotter (1990), (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006) and Parker and Wall (1998) by investigating the importance of individual need as new factor.

Knowledge Management is one facet of an organization to impact individual change readiness and plays a significant role in the creation of change readiness. What factors of Knowledge Management have a significant impact on change readiness is the subject of this work.

The objective for this work therefore will be to find evidence for the relation and impact of Knowledge Management practices on Change Readiness.

1.3. Definitions

Knowledge Management: This research work defines Knowledge Management as all managerial possibility to impact how knowledge is created, transferred, applied and stored in the firm. This includes the five disciplines of Senge (1990, pp. 57-252) “System Thinking”, “Personal Mastery”, “Mental Models”, building of a “Shared Vision” and “Team Learning” and extends to systems and structures (Despres and Chauvel, 1999, pp. 110-120) as well as processes.

Change: Change in this work is defined as “altering people’s actions, reactions, and interactions to move the organization’s existing state to some future desired state.” (McNabb and Sepic, 1995, p. 370)

Change Readiness: Madsen, John and Miller (2006) identified that it is important to understand how Change Readiness is created. Humans react differently to change challenges. The complex dynamics between economic market factors, organizations, departments and individuals creates complicate influences between different factors (Backer, 1998, pp.142 - 143). The Change Readiness impacts people’s behaviour towards change and decides whether people go in resistance or support the change (Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder, 1993, p. 699). To increase the general readiness of change can therefore be seen as one of the most effective initiatives an organization can take to increase their organizational change capacity (Cunningham et al., 2002, pp. 377 - 390) and obligates an organization to help individuals “͙through their fears, resistances, and anxieties about change.” (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p. 94). This work therefore defines CR as a personal status of people, which allows them to overcome their emotional change barriers and effectively use their available energy to support the required change. This change might be a change enforced on employees by management but expands to change requirements, which have been recognized but remained disregarded.

1.4. Research Objective

The objective of this dissertation is to clarify if the three areas of Knowledge

Management (Information flow, creation of understanding and creation of skill) have significant impact on an individual’s change readiness.

- Hypothesis 1: (Related to Knowledge) The availability of information concerning proposed changes will be recognized as positively related to perceived readiness for change.
- Hypothesis 2: (Related to Willingness) The understanding of the underlying reasons for change will be recognized as positively related to the perceived readiness for change.
- Hypothesis 3: (Related to Skill) The personal perception of necessary skills and competences required for the new expected behaviour will be recognized as positively related to perceived readiness for change.

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

2.1. Introduction

In a world of hyper-competitive markets and constant change (Child, 2005) (Roberts, 2004), the ability of the individual to adapt new behaviours in a professional work environment is important.

Many companies face increasing competition due to globalized markets, new participants in the industry or radical and unpredicted change in the economic conditions (Balogan and Jenkins, 2003) (Child, 2005) (Roberts, 2004). Organizational change circles, as first defined by Kurt Lewin (Lewin, 1951) (Kotter, 1990), become shorter and the phases of stabilization between changes are reduced or even completely extinguished (Wiig, 2011). Planning ahead, based on detailed examination of market conditions (Kotter, 1990) (Parker and Wall, 1998), allows firms to manage the continuous change process. Nevertheless, change is still perceived as exceptional and organized as individual change projects, despite so many of these change projects are ending unsuccessfully (Balogan and Jenkins, 2003). Companies repeatedly fail to achieve the envisioned results of change (Decker et al., 2012). Kotter (1990), in his eight-step process of creating major change, identifies the relation between envisioned goal and the communication of the change vision as crucial for successful transformation. Information needs to flow, be understood and absorbed, and transferred into a shared belief to achieve the goal. Knowledge Transfer interruptions are recognized as one of the critical factors for failure of Change Management (Decker et al., 2012).

2.2. Readiness for Change

According to Madsen, John and Miller (2006, p. 95) the theory of margin2 from McClusky can be seen as the start of readiness for change research. Based on his research of adult learning capacity (McClusky, 1965) further investigations of Merriam and Caffarella, who describe McClusky’s work as a theory of adult potential (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p. 95) and Hanpachern, Morgan and Griego who based their development of the Margin in Life (MIL) framework on McClusky’s work (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p. 95), show that these first investigations of McClusky remain relevant for actual research. According to Hanpachern, Morgan and Griego (1998) the relation between emotional intangibles (Load) and the available energy of a person (Power) allows a calculating of a person’s margin (m).

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It reflects the capability of a person to take choices between different options. The choice people have to make in change situation is the decision to support change or to go into resistance and favour the current state (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p.13). Therefore companies have two choices to impact the change resistance. First, and that’s the more common approach, by inducing pressure on people and enforce compliance and second to increase the change readiness and proactively minimize the forces that will work against the change (Judson, 1991).

Empowerment and trust are important factors for Readiness of Change stated by some authors (Kotter, 2012) (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006), additional factors are expected and have to be identified (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006). Kotter’s (2012, p. 22) famous eight-step change process starts with six steps to only prepare change and reducing change barriers: establishing a state of urgency, form a powerful guiding coalition, create a vision, empower others to act on the vision and plan for and create short-term wins. This unfreezing process can be seen as preparation for change. Kotter therefore defines change preparation as part of the change process. For continuous change, as it is evident for many industries, a general reduction of change resistance and in positive words, a higher Change Readiness is required.

Backer (1998) describes the individual readiness of change as a sum of the personal feelings towards an expected change. The personal acceptance of change. It can be seen as a “͙ state of mind about the need of change” (Backer, 1998, p. 24). Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder (1993) identified that companies often lack a strategy to impact the readiness of change and examined what strategies could be successful. The authors identified that a proactive initiative to impact individual readiness of change increases the change capacity in a firm. Backer (1998, p. 21) provides details that change resistance is related to missing processes to impact the unfreezing element of change that Lewin (1951) identified. Slater and Narver (1995, p. 69) explain that the leadership of a firm holds a key role in supporting unlearning practices by challenging thinking models and providing opportunities to exchange new ideas within teams. Crossan, Lane and White (1999, p. 533) describe this process as a necessary process of destruction to allow learning especially in firms with a high level of institutionalized learning.

Differences in people’s cognitive ability and structure cause them to react differently to comparable or even exact same change messages (Armenakis and Harris, 2002) (Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder, 1993). These cognitive structures are formed by life experience and the construction of mental and logical dispositions (Madson, Miller and John, 2005). Cognition theory describes it as a 2nd layer filter of cognition (Watzlawik, 2001). Learning styles therefore differ and people from different cultural backgrounds develop different learning style preferences (Holtbrügge and Mohr, 2010, p. 622). Learning styles differ with culture and adoption of new behaviours, which represents change, requires learning. It can be concluded that cultural differences also directly affect the change readiness. Culture as individual disposition therefore needs to be considered when considering change readiness factors. Marsick and Watkins (2003) recognize team learning and sharing of knowledge as influential factors for Change Readiness. Cummings and Worley (2009) concluded that the way change processes are managed and all kinds of change readiness efforts companies take can still fail on some individuals with a different selective perception. This result of Marsick and Watkins (2003) supports the individual need approach for learning and change readiness.

2.3. Behaviour and Knowledge

Behaviour and knowledge are often connected in literature (Argyris, 1976) (Daft and Weick, 1984) (Marsick and Watkins, 2003). Argyris (1976) explains that learning is a reaction to the environment and influences the actions taken to achieve a goal and defines it as “Single-Loop” learning. Daft and Weick (1984) relate information to interpretation and consider learning as showing in concrete actions that would be observable as changed behaviour.

The question of how the availability of knowledge and different knowledge flows impacts the behavioural change of individuals remains unanswered. The individual behavioural change creates the base for a wider successful organizational change (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). Change, adoption of new behaviours and learning are seen as closely related in the literature, but should not be mistaken for synonyms (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). Learning can be of pure cognitive nature and not related to behavioural change and vice versa (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). The level of significance of the relationship of learning and change of behaviour increases with the quantity of knowledge gained or behaviour change (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). This relationship between the quantity of knowledge acquisition and behavioural change represents a fundamental pillar of this research.

Based upon the secondary literature reviewed, it can be concluded that individual learning and the readiness of employees to change behaviour are related. The nature of this relationship is visible within the individual need of a person.

2.4. Knowledge Management

During the 1980s and 1990s firms had to change their perception that innovation is simply generated by increasing R&D expenses. While Peter Drucker (1969) already created the term „knowledge worker“ and started to investigate the differences to classical labour, it was not until then that environmental changes in the global economy made investigation of management of intangible assets like knowledge necessary and its influence on a firm’s competitiveness unavoidable. This changed due to increased competition within globalized markets (Roberts, 2004) (Nonaka, Toyama and Hirata, 2008).

Peter Senge’s book “The fifth Discipline” (1990) set the starting point for this new area of research related to KM. His ensemble of five disciplines: System thinking, Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Building a Shared Vision and Team Learning set the tone for further research. His fifth discipline “System thinking” explains that the other four disciplines need to be considered as an interacting and influencing system. The parts of a whole can’t be isolated in management, and they influence one another. Every change will impact the entire system. This system theoretical understanding based on Maturana and Varela (1980), and transferred to social systems by Luhmann (1995), provides evidence of the impact each individual has on the firms’ overall change readiness. The general practice presenting employees with a change requirement and the option to accept it or leave the firm (Child, 2005), and the enforcement of this form of change extinguishes not just resistance, but also the intangible knowledge assets embedded in the people. The alternative to allow employees to participate in the process recognizes employees as elements of a system that initially shares the same goal, to strengthen the system (Maturana and Varela, 1980) and be successful as an organization.

Within the last 15 years, many publications in relation to Knowledge Management have been published and represent the actual stage of Knowledge Management research.

The I4 framework developed by Crossan, Lane and White (1999) provides an excellent base to understand that knowledge management looks at knowledge, not as a firm asset but as a bidirectional flow in constant development that requires forward and backward flows of information. Therefore the I4 framework will be presented and explained at this point.

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Illustration 2 I4 framework (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999, p. 532)

The three defined levels where knowledge is processed are the Individual, the Group and the Organization (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999, pp. 532-534). The authors further define the four stages of knowledge transfer as: Intuiting, Interpreting, Integrating and Institutionalizing, describing how knowledge is transferred forward and backward between the groups as well as the fact that knowledge is not always in one form. On the Individual level, intuiting represents the individual learning by identification of similarities or differences and recognition of patterns. In the level of Interpreting the individual begins to explain and develops meaning for what they have learned through interaction with the environment, including other people. New tacit knowledge is created. On the stage of Integration, the group is recognized as place of knowledge creation and evolution through sharing of explicit knowledge. The final stage, Institutionalizing describes Organizational Learning and underlines that the Organizational Knowledge asset is more than the sum of the elements. It includes the processes that develop around people, the systems used to store and process knowledge and the system’s capability to leverage learning. The forward and backward flow between these stages and levels requires conversion from tacit to explicit and from explicit back to tacit knowledge (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999). The work of Crossan, Lane and White (1999) is relevant to this research as knowledge flow and knowledge flow barriers are key topic of this research. The authors recognize the individual as an element of knowledge transfer and underline the importance of bidirectional flow of information. The authors explain that knowledge needs to be transferred, shared and converted in order to achieve new knowledge. New knowledge leads to new skills and to new ways of analysing and reflecting situations. This publication defines ‘change’ as behavioural change, and that knowledge will be needed in order for these behavioural changes to be adopted.

Nonaka, Toyama and Konno (2000) describe the main areas impacting knowledge creation in their SECI process, which will now be explained in more detail.

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Illustration 3 SECI Process (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000, p. 12)

The SECI (socialization, externalization, combination, internalization) model represents a comparable framework to the I4 framework (Crossan, Lane and White, 1999). In SECI knowledge is described as needing to be converted between tacit and explicit knowledge and explains the interaction between objective and subjective perception (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000). This has significant impact on how research about knowledge can be conducted. Knowledge and especially knowledge flows are never objectively recognizable. There is always an intuitive, subjective aspect to it and the choice of research methods will need to be selected accordingly. ‘Ba’, as the second important area of study of the authors, describes the place where knowledge creation takes place (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000). As the authors describe knowledge as contextually influenced, ba represents the context in which knowledge is embedded and developed.

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Illustration 4 Ba (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000, p. 14)

Ba is never seen as stable but as continuously changing, setting clear requirements for the research and impacts the limitations the research will have. The situational investigation of this work will show one snapshot of the ba and how it influenced the current behavioural change.

Additional findings of the authors are the importance of a Knowledge Vision, the influence of management on ba, SECI and the knowledge Assets and the holistic view on an organizational Knowledge Creation framework. All these have significant importance for the recommendations for process improvements and change readiness of this work as they summarize the wider area of knowledge creation and include all facets of KM that can impact change readiness.

In the following table the two frameworks I4 and SECI, ba are presented in a comparison for findings related to change readiness.

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Table 1 Comparison I4, SECI and ba (Source: Author)

Marsick and Watkins (2003) present an instrument that analysis whether individuals learn or not. The dimensions of the learning organization questionnaire (DLOQ) measures changes in the firm’s climate, culture, systems and structures, which are considered directly related to learning (Marsick and Watkins, 2003). The authors make use of the traditional trigger-and-response mechanism described by Kurt Lewin but add to it by explaining that while triggers and responses are related, the filters that influence the outcome are individual and product of people’s past and experiences (Marsick and Watkins, 2003). The authors share the view of Nonaka, Toyama and Konno (2000) in that learning on an organizational level is a collective effort and the result of interaction and interdependent processes. The authors also build on the understanding of the three levels of Organizational learning described in the I4 framework of Crossan, Lane and White (1999). Additionally Marsick and Watkins (2003) define seven dimensions of the Learning Organization: Continuous Learning, Inquiry and Dialogue, Collaboration and Team, Learning, Create Systems, Empower People, Connect the Organization, Strategic Leadership, Financial Performance and Knowledge Performance. These dimensions offer another validated list of Knowledge Management factors, which have to be tested for their relevance for Change Readiness.

Schimmel and Muntslag (2009) identified learning barriers in Single-Loop and Double-Loop learning including the absence of dialogue and feedback as well as the speed of changing conditions. This study considers the impact of Knowledge Management on behavioural change, the underlying principles of the learning barriers are equally relevant as prevention of learning will prevent change and the work is, therefore, important. The logical connection between learning and change has been shown (Argyris, 1976) (Daft and Weick, 1984) (Easterby-Smith and Prieto, 2008) (Marsick and Watkins, 2003). A lack of clarity still exists about the factors for individual change readiness (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006) and even so increasing the readiness for change is considered as an effective intervention for management to initiate in an organization (Cunningham et al., 2002), research still needs to be conducted to gain insight in what exactly prepares people for change. While individual change barriers have been investigated (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006) and especially work external factors were identified, the research results related to positive factors for individual change readiness are still only partially known and detailed research on Knowledge Management impact possibilities on readiness of change has not been conducted.

2.5. Conclusions from literature review

To move further to the research, some findings from the literature reviewed are considered as critical for the research design.

Firstly, the research needs to include individual observations of personal needs for change readiness. A pure quantitative research method will not be able to reflect the possibility of individual deviation from an average norm. Secondly, a relation between Change Readiness, Knowledge flow and learning can be expected. The in- depth interview questions therefore need to address the role of knowledge gain and knowledge flow. Thirdly, there is likely to be an impact of additional factors, like trust and the general relationship between change initiator and change follower on Change readiness. Fourthly, Change Readiness as general capability to follow change must be related to specific change situations in order to ensure the interviews reveal real needs for Change Readiness. Fifthly, the energy level of a person as an indicator for the personal learning and change potential, energy is related to the subjective perception of the personal well-being. Considering a situation as stressful can therefore be used as a selection criteria, to ensure people were exposed to situations where the energy level was lowered and the people were not ready to change.

These important findings influenced the research design.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

The intended research methodology approach is influenced by postmodern philosophy and constructionism. The researcher positions himself as constructionist. This research study will use qualitative methods for collecting data and gaining insights in the participants’ subjective observation and their reality. This qualitative method is accompanied by one survey and therefore can be seen as a mixed methods approach. In this chapter, the research approach will be explained in more detail, and a five-stage process will be initiated.

3.1. Research approach

The research includes the following five stages:

- Survey to a larger group identifying participants matching the research requirements
- Structured in-depth interview with open and closed questions with identified participants
- Data analysis of large group survey, in order to develop an overview and test qualitative data
- Qualitative analyses of interview data and comparison with behaviour and explicit knowledge
- Software supported coding and analysing of the interview transcripts.

Firstly, a survey will be given to employees from two different companies (MB and Borderless Lifescience Group). Secondly, the same survey will be given to the pharmaceutical industry specialist group of the XING social network (XING). The social network group will ensure a mixture of healthcare specialists from different companies and ensures a homogeneous population of knowledge workers. The two rather small companies will act as control groups and used to compare the results to the wider group of the social network.

The population will be limited to people living in Germany, fluent in German and being well grounded in German culture. The German culture according to Gert Hostede shows a low power distance (score 35), high individualism (score 66) and a high level of uncertainty avoidance (score 65), very high pragmatism (score 83) and relatively low Indulgence (score 40) (Hofstede, n.d.). Especially the low power distance, and the high level of uncertainty avoidance are expected to impact the research result, based on the results of the different culture related learning styles (Holtbrügge and Mohr, 2010), it can be concluded that a low power distance culture leads to a higher reflective observation need and a more confronting interaction with management. Germans are considered more direct and confronting in conversations than Americans or English (House, 2006, p. 255). Therefore the German cultural environment is a planned limitation of this research. Change Readiness is expected to be highly dependent on cultural factors. This research only includes individuals from a German cultural background and the result has to be seen as a result influenced by German culture.

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Graph 1 Culture GER - USA (Hofstede, n.d.)

The survey will be used to identify a sub-group of interesting and matching people from the community of the XING group members, all 11 employees of XYZ, and all 11 employees of MB.

The survey will be sent electronically by email. The email will include a link to an online survey tool. The survey tool provider is a commercial, professional survey provider and ensures data security and end-to-end encryption to data transfer (Kwik Surveys, n.d.). The survey participant’s personal data will be kept on the secure server of the supplier and not downloaded. All quantitative analytics will be conducted on the survey provider’s analysis frontend. The survey results and descriptors for demographic analysis will be transferred to the mixed methods software solution without personal data.

The survey participants must agree to participate in the study and match the selection criteria. In order to meet the criteria for an in-depth interview selection, the participants identify themselves in the survey as having been exposed to behavioural change within the last 6-12 month, and agree to the statement that this change situation was challenging and affected them emotionally. This survey will also collect quantitative data about Change Readiness, exposure to change, demographic information and information about the work environment. The participants’ of the sub-group for in-depth interviews will then be contacted, and personal interviews were in January 2014. The survey will also ask for a self- evaluation of the participants change requirements. Due to the need to use the German language in surveys and interviews, all questions will be prepared in a manner ensuring that all language used will easily be translatable to English in order to decrease the chance of transcript failures.

In the second stage, the subgroup evidencing significant confrontation with change will be interviewed with an in-depth interview approach. A semi-structured interview approach will be chosen to achieve comparability of responses while allowing the use of the laddering technique to investigate the participants values and emotion states (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2012, p. 128). The interview will be conducted in German language, recorded and coded in three coding stages. The audio recordings are digitally and transferred directly to the software solution to ensure the data protection. Directly after upload, the original recordings will be deleted and only a copy will be stored on a secured server. After the analysis process all audio records will be deleted. No audio record includes personal data, as the name of the participant, this process ensures that the audio files can’t be lost or otherwise accessed by third parties.

The questions building the topic guide (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2012, p. 127) for the interview will be selected based on three criteria. Firstly, they need to ensure the answers reflect experiences from real live situations. Therefore, all questions explicitly relate to one concrete change experience within the past 6-12 months. The timeframe ensures that people are not directly affected and are still able to provide enough level of detail about the change situation, the work environment and their emotional state. Secondly, no combined questions will be used to ensure the answer is directly linked to one specific topic. Thirdly, to maintain relative objectivity (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2012, p. 138) questions are asked neutrally, using clear and concrete language. Neutral asking will be achieved by avoiding all personal opinions as well as comments on answers, which would allow the participant to make conclusions about the personal opinion of the researcher. Open-ended questions will be used which focus on the situation the participant experienced. As the interviewer hasn’t experienced the situation and needs to surround the situation with the use of circular asking of “W”-questions (what, when, where, with whom, why) neutrality is also ensured by the selection of interview approach. The researcher conducted several hundred interviews in over 5 years of professional job application interviewing where neutrality is of eminent importance to receive a clear picture of the applicant. This experience will help to achieve a neutral and insightful collection of qualitative data. The majority of the questions will be open-ended questions to allow the participant to tell about the situation freely and decide what was important for them about the situation.

Probing techniques will be used to ensure the essence of the answers was

understood and to avoid assumptions (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2012, p. 130) The interviews will take between 30 and 60 minutes. As only nine questions are prepared and these cover only the main topics of research:

- the change environment,
- the change situation,
- the emotional state during change,
- the situation after the change,
- the general organizational culture,
- the communication flows in the organization,
- the personal view of the participant on change readiness factors and o a final question to invite the participant to tell whatever they believe is important about change.

No testing of these questions was done.

The questions where shown to the two test persons, who also reviewed the survey and considered as clear. The majority of the interview questions are questions based on the answers of participants and therefore could not be tested, as they followed the information given by the participants.

In the third stage, the survey data will be analysed for reoccurring and consistent logic to prepare the coding process of the qualitative interview data. This will lead to a list of codes and a basic coding structure. A list of descriptors from the demographic and work environment questions will be selected to prepare the mixed methods analysis.

In the fourth stage, a comparison of the interview answers and the survey answers will be conducted. The purpose of this cross checks will be to identify contradictions and to ensure that the change event people related to in the survey matched the same event discussed in the interviews.

In stage five, a computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) will be used to ensure objectivity in data analysis. The tool used is a professional mixed methods’ solution called dedoose (SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC., 2013). The selected descriptor fields from stage three are imported to the software and the audio records directly linked to the survey descriptors. From this moment on the personal data is no longer required and will be deleted. Coding will then be done in different steps, starting with open coding that allows free creation of categories and will deliver a list of many different codes. This will be followed by axial coding which uses predefined categories and sub-categories and finally a third time with selective coding - a refining and integration process to support theory building (Sinkovics and Penz, 2011, p. 716). The open coding allows the identification of categories of content, and identified content will then retrieve a term that matches the expressed information. The sum of the categories will be reviewed and logically categorized into topics. The identified categories and sub-categories will then be refined. The finalized categories will be used to code the texts again with only these predefined categories, which allows identifying all matching content in the texts. In the last stage of selective coding, the text will be reduced, and hydrated based on the phenomenon identified by the study and provides an abstraction from the original texts while ensuring the conclusions can still be clearly related to original sources. As a final step, the codes will be related to the survey descriptors to identify work environment or demographic specific patterns.

3.2. Survey testing

The survey questions have been tested with two people for clarity: one received the German version one the English translation, both were fluent in English and German. The results have been discussed the survey questions afterwards with me. The questions where optimized after this test run by especially selecting German Words which really had the same meaning as the English word that would be used in the translation for the research. The most difficult word was also the most important word for this research. Change readiness is not easy to translate to German. The word readiness directly translated means “Bereitschaft”, but in German the word is also used for willingness. This would have had significant influence on the survey result. It was therefore decided to use the term “Befähigung” which directly translated to English as capability, but in German has a clear external factor included and does not relate to skills and competences only. Additionally, the topic was explained in the survey invitation to further reduce the possibility to misunderstand the survey as a research related to willingness instead of readiness for change. One additional point that needed improvement was a misunderstanding of the survey questions that was revealed. It was unclear which questions related to a specific change situations and which didn’t. Based on this result the survey was restructured in topic chapters and additional explanations were added. It was also decided based on the feedback received that the change readiness factors ranking question was moved before the agreement to the statements about change readiness. This ensured an unbiased view on the ranking before thinking about agreement to statements selected by the researcher.


1 Knowledge Management takes care how existing knowledge in an organization is stored, used, shared as well as how new knowledge creation can be supported. (Dierkes et al., 2003, p.1)

2 Theory of Margin: Invented by McClusky (1963) is a theory of adult potential based on the balance of energy required to learn and the energy level available. (Madsen, John and Miller, 2006, p. 93)

Excerpt out of 141 pages


The use of Knowledge Management and its impact on factors for change readiness
A research investigation
The University of Liverpool
MSc International Management
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
2535 KB
Change, Change Readiness, Knowledge Management
Quote paper
Frank Voggenreiter (Author), 2015, The use of Knowledge Management and its impact on factors for change readiness, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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