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Knowledge management in the IT outsourcing service Industry of South Africa: a case of Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces
Matshwane, Ontiretse Lesley
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The sourcing of IT solutions (whether to provide internal solutions or to outsource services to specialized IT service providers) is a major strategic decision for all organizations. This study sought to explore the dynamics of Knowledge Management (KM) implementations in the Information Technology (IT) services outsourcing industry. A qualitative research method was then used to carry out the investigation. Using the purposive sampling technique, the IT services industry, comprising IT services clients and service providing organizations (contractors) in both the public and private sectors were the main sources of primary data, whereas secondary data came from the literature. Then, because of its alignment to the interrogation of a subjective nature that requires interpretation (KM in IT outsourcing industry), critical paradigm together with interpretive paradigm collectively known as critical-interpretive paradigm became appropriate for this study. The primary data was collected through the use of interviews which were subsequently subjected to content analysis and the Actor Network Theory (ANT) was deployed as the analytical lens. ANT aided in drawing a comparison between the ideal IT services industry network and the actual meaning of the findings. Findings reveal that whilst most service providing organizations (contractors) demonstrate significant improvement in the management of knowledge assets, particularly the protection of intellectual property, the same cannot be said of their clients. Further, although there are encouraging cases of good practice and comprehension of the benefits of outsourcing in both sectors, IT services clients still engage in careless practices when appointing their contractors. For example, in most cases the clients’ appointing panels are not representative of all stakeholders but only limited to management with no regard for the input from IT professionals. Low numbers of dedicated KM departments in IT services client organizations is also a concern since it is these departments who should champion the KM processes and implementations. On outsourcing, it is recommended that organizations must implement clear and representative selection policies during the selection of contractors and not just rely on past experiences or exclude other key stakeholders. On the protection of intellectual property (IP) and organizational culture, a recommendation is that organizations should define clear KM processes aimed at addressing issues from deliberate protection of knowledge assets to timely and secure dissemination of knowledge. The allocation of sufficient time to knowledge workers to integrate, discover better ways of doing things is also proposed, together with a concise definition of how new ideas will be evaluated and selected for further development and investment.