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With reference to the concept of the corporate curriculum, how far do you consider an organisation with which you are familiar to be meeting the challenges presented by the knowledge economy?
With the emergence of the new knowledge-based economy, organisations are slowly starting to see a new need to apply knowledge management practices and principles to their corporate curriculum.
In today's competitive landscape, organisations must develop different capabilities and strategies in order to meet the demands of the knowledge economy. In order to do this, firms must be able to effectively deploy, utilize and manage knowledge. Knowledge management can be harnessed to foster learning in the organisation. It is also important to identify and use knowledge through strategic capabilities, knowledge productivity, and corporate curriculum.
Managers of today should think critically about the use of learning and knowledge processes in order to be successful. Increasing globalization, continuous improvements in technology and growing competitiveness of the different industries around the world are just some of the pressures which are forcing some organisations to streamline their business processes and utilize not only their traditional and competitive resources but also their collective knowledge.
Every organisation survives in an atmosphere that conditions the way the organisation carries out its business. There are business drivers that have influenced how organisations behave towards knowledge management. The airline industry as a member of the professional services sector recognizes knowledge as a product, people as primary source, mobile workforce and mergers are some of its key business drivers (Abel and Oxbrow, 2001).
Learning and Knowledge Management 学习与知识管理
There are many ways to define knowledge management as much as there are a lot of approaches to implementing it and using it. In the context of learning, Alavi and Leidner (2001) describe knowledge management as a dynamic and continuous organisational phenomenon that involves distinct but interdependent processes of knowledge creation, knowledge retrieval, knowledge transfer, and knowledge application. Ponniah (2001, p. 54) defines knowledge management as a systematic process for capturing, integrating, organizing, and communicating knowledge accumulated by employees. He further describes it as a vehicle to share corporate knowledge so that employees may be more effective and be productive in their work.
In every organisation, innovation or learning occurs as a result of the flow and transformation of knowledge and other intellectual assets. Accordingly, innovation, whether reorientation or variation, is a reflection of the internal organisational positioning of the firm's innovative unit, the character of technological interdependencies in a particular innovation, and the character of knowledge and technological interdependencies (Goodman and Lawless, p. 240). According to Andreu and Sieber (2001, p. 61), differences in knowledge led to differences in learning. For organisations, it is important to have a clear idea about what types of knowledge are present in individuals within the organisation. It is also important for organisations to incorporate relevant knowledge from the environment so that they are capable of offering to potential clients whatever becomes standard in the marketplace. Nonaka (1991) says there is another way to think about knowledge and its role in business organisations. He cites as examples some Japanese companies like Honda, Canon, and Sharp. He says that managers of these firms tap on the tacit and often highly subjective insights of employees which often results to a spiral of knowledge at continuing higher levels and it is not simply the processing of factual information. As organisations grow, the level of learning and the quality of knowledge becomes more important and critical to the business inputs and processes. Andreu and Sieber (2001) support this fact by saying that it is the interaction of individuals in a group and therefore the collective character of work in organisations that gave rise to the concept of organisational learning. It is also through organisational learning that organisations are beginning to see the impact of using intellectual assets as another means to fight their way out of the doldrums.
Challenges of the Knowledge Economy 知识经济的挑战
The information age is marked by the rise of mass customization, dynamic processes, virtual organisations, and a whole set of new practices and administrative structures enabled by global communications and information systems (Meadows et al, p. 38). The essential resources to consider in today's knowledge economy therefore are knowledge, labor, and organisational capabilities (Meadows et al).
In an economy that is becoming increasingly driven by new shifts in technology and competition, it is no longer possible for traditional organisations and industries of today to concentrate on their static assets. They must constantly move their resources and adjust to certain communications structures, management practices, personnel development, and sales and marketing strategies. The increasing rates of change, increasing global competition, a more diverse workforce, a more demanding and satisfaction-conscious customers are just some of the challenges that organisations are facing today as they make a transformation from an industrial organisation to a knowledge-based organisation. The greater challenge however lies on how to use knowledge in order to bring out innovative ideas and create more value for the organisation and trigger product and services differentiation.
The Corporate Curriculum 企业课程
For an organisation to meet the challenges presented by the knowledge economy, learning and development should be incorporated in the overall corporate plan and business process. The organisation must adopt a corporate culture which integrates the transformation of the organisation using the available intellectual and the internal and external knowledge assets with the corporate development process.
Formalized training programs should include a corporate curriculum plan match with the prevailing job and managerial skills of individual members of the organisation to the needs of the entire organisation. It should also provide an avenue for knowledge and the entire learning processes to flourish and help the organisation sustain its competitive edge. There should be programs for enhancing the strategic communication which would guide managers and employees on the how to communicate the mission-vision and the corporate strategy to different levels and departments of the organisation. It should also be able to skillfully impart its mission-vision and guiding principles to its members and clients as well. Programs should also showcase the effective management skills which come with the recruitment and selection process of employees, encouraging motivation, giving due and just compensation, providing coaching and training programs, and enhancing the performance management. Using human resources and learning methods for knowledge management purposes include knowledge management awareness and development of a knowledge sharing attitude and skills as part of a corporate curriculum (Efimova and Swaak). Leadership and personal development should be able to help define the dynamic character of a leader and enhance leadership styles and approaches suitable for the organisation and its environment. It should also help enhance team building activities and help and empower members of the organisation to take charge of their own career development. Sales and Marketing courses should help improve the negotiating and selling skills and market analysis and planning skills as well. Service Excellence should be able to make changes to certain strategies in order to improve customer satisfaction and allow room for a creative problem solving strategy.
In this paper, Singapore Airlines (SIA) was chosen as the organisation of choice because the company operates in an emerging economy of Asia which offers an ideal situation in which to discuss the challenges encountered in an evolving knowledge economy. The company is also recognized as an innovation-based organisation that places strong emphasis on value creation through knowledge (Goh, 2005).
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