The strategic role of knowledge management in African universities.
This thesis articulates an empirical research study that examines the role of Knowledge Management, inclusive of Business Intelligence in an African Higher Education setting. There are an abundance of studies that show how Knowledge Management plays a key role in organisational strategy, productivity, efficiency, performance and competitiveness in developed countries. The same is not true for developing economies in Africa. This study addressed this gap by investigating the influence of Knowledge Management on institutional strategy development at leading African universities. Furthermore, Web 2.0 was also rigorously investigated as an e-Learning and Knowledge Management strategy for the effective transfer and dissemination of knowledge in Higher Education. The study targeted 20 leading African universities (based upon the Times Higher Education Rankings). The study was built around the constructs of 3 applicable frameworks including Kogut and Zander Knowledge Management Model, Organisational Learning Theory and Organisational Culture Theory. The research instruments were designed around the constructs of the frameworks. Questionnaires were sent to senior employees responsible for Knowledge Management at the respective institutions. In addition, in-depth interviews were also conducted with these individuals as part of the qualitative arm of the study. Both quantitative and qualitative data underwent rigorous statistical analyses in relation to the aims and frameworks of the study. This study found that Knowledge Management does influence institutional strategy and plays an informing role in providing knowledge on demand for strategic decision making and strategy formulation. However Knowledge Management was primarily used in strategy formulation at operational and support areas of the institutions as opposed to teaching and research. There was also a lack of sophisticated and powerful Knowledge Management Information Systems in most of Africa’s leading institutions. The study also showed that Web 2.0 is not being utilised as an e-Learning and Knowledge Management Strategy. Knowledge Management is currently not at Executive Level in African Higher Education. The study further revealed an important finding, that being, those institutions that do make strategic use of Knowledge Management, inclusive of Business Intelligence and Web 2.0, in key areas such as academic teaching, learning and research were higher up in the academic ranking scale as opposed to those that did not. Relating to this, the study showed that effective use of Knowledge Management including Knowledge Management Information Systems does add value to the institutions. In addition, if Knowledge Management including more specialised Knowledge Management Information Systems can be more effectively used to inform strategies in teaching and research then it will promote more academic value and institutional competiveness. Furthermore, if Web 2.0 can be used effectively as an e-Learning and Knowledge Management strategy it will yield significant benefits in research and pedagogy and increase competitiveness. The Organisational Learning framework can be used to predict the trajectory of African universities if they engage with Knowledge Management strategically. Other future studies, amongst others, that can be generated from this study includes avenues such as the measurement of success derived through effective practice of Knowledge Management in African universities or a study similar to this across BRICS nations.