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Wikis as knowledge management systems: Issues and challenges

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify and examine the major issues and challenges that impact the implementation of wikis as KMS. Wikis have been referred to as next generation KMS, providing an alternative to traditional knowledge management systems by addressing many of their limitations. However, research shows that there are cases where wikis have failed to achieve this potential. Further research on the range of issues and challenges surrounding the implementation of wikis in the corporate environment is required in order to enable organizations manage them more effectively and reap maximum benefits. Design/methodology/approach – This paper begins by providing a review of previously published empirical studies on wiki deployment in organizations. The disparate discussions are then synthesised by identifying the major issues and challenges in wiki implementation. Findings – Six major issues and challenges are identified including lack of a clear purpose for the wiki, wiki usability, integrating wikis into established work practices, social issues, role of management and organizational culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration. Originality/value – It is posited that in order for organizations to successfully implement wikis, it is necessary to first understand the issues and challenges surrounding wiki implementation. This paper contributes to practice by identifying the key issues and challenges in the implementation of wikis and suggesting strategies for using wikis to manage knowledge effectively. Building on this review, we critically analyse the findings and propose a model for the implementation of wikis which addresses these issues and identifies research areas that further need to be investigated.
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Wikis as knowledge management
systems: issues and challenges
Sarah Kiniti and Craig Standing
Centre for Innovative Practice, Edith Cowan University,
Joondalup, Australia
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to identify and examine the major issues and challenges that
impact the implementation of wikis as KMS. Wikis have been referred to as next generation KMS,
providing an alternative to traditional knowledge management systems by addressing many of their
limitations. However, research shows that there are cases where wikis have failed to achieve this
potential. Further research on the range of issues and challenges surrounding the implementation of
wikis in the corporate environment is required in order to enable organizations manage them more
effectively and reap maximum benefits.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper begins by providing a review of previously
published empirical studies on wiki deployment in organizations. The disparate discussions are then
synthesised by identifying the major issues and challenges in wiki implementation.
Findings – Six major issues and challenges are identified including lack of a clear purpose for the
wiki, wiki usability, integrating wikis into established work practices, social issues, role of
management and organizational culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Originality/value It is posited that in order for organizations to successfully implement wikis, it is
necessary to first understand the issues and challenges surrounding wiki implementation. This paper
contributes to practice by identifying the key issues and challenges in the implementation of wikis and
suggesting strategies for using wikis to manage knowledge effectively. Building on this review, we
critically analyse the findings and propose a model for the implementation of wikis which addresses
these issues and identifies research areas that further need to be investigated.
Keywords Wikis, Knowledge management, KMS, Wiki implementation
Paper type General review
1. Introduction
The concept of knowledge management (KM) in organizations is not new. Since the 1990s,
researchers have investigated the strategic management of knowledge in organizations.
Based on the premise that knowledge is a strategic organizational asset and a key source
of competitive advantage, organizations have since then been involved in implementing
knowledge management systems (KMS) to enable them create, capture, locate and share
organizational knowledge (Alavi and Leidner, 1999; Davenport and Prusak, 1998).
Many organizational KM initiatives have relied on IT as an important enabler
(Hahn and Subramani, 2000). KMS are definedas IT based systems developed to “support
and enhance the organizational processes of knowledge creation, storage/retrieval,
transfer, and application” (Alavi and Leidner, 2001, p. 114). KMS therefore encompass
technology based initiatives including creation of searchable document repositories,
expertise databases, development of decision aids and expert systems and the
hardwiring of social networks which aid access to resources ofnon-collocated individuals
(Sambamurthy and Subramani, 2005).
However, despite investing heavily in KMS, research suggests that most companies
face challenges in leveraging knowledge through information and communication
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1328-7265.htm
Journal of Systems and Information
Technology
Vol. 15 No. 2, 2013
pp. 189-201
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
1328-7265
DOI 10.1108/13287261311328895
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technologies and some researchers argue that current technologies have failed to
capture organizational knowledge (McAfee, 2006; McDermott, 1999; Walsham, 2002).
As technology has evolved, approaches to KM have changed. Lee and Lan(2007) argue that
the paradigm shift in KM approaches represents a move from traditional (conventional)
approach with emphasis on creation of information repositories to a conversational
approach through knowledge networks facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies including
wikis, blogs and discussion forums. Wiki technology, in particular, has been referred to
as next generation KMS providing an alternative to traditional KMS by addressing many
of their limitations (Hasan and Pfaff, 2006).
As organizations continue to deploy wiki technologies, there has been an increase in
empirical studies on corporate wiki adoption. These studies have revealed mixed success
with wiki implementation. The varied experiences of organizations implementing wikis
for KM indicates that a more detailed analysis incorporating a larger sample of
organizations would provide more insight into wiki implementation. The purpose of this
study, therefore, is to synthesise the disparate discussions by identifying the major
issues and challenges impacting the implementation of wikis for KM in the corporate
environment. To our knowledge, no major review of this body of knowledge has been
done to date. The paper is structured as follows: the next section presents definitions that
set the scope of our study. The following section describes the research methodology and
organizes the findings of the previously published works into six major issues and
challenges. In the discussion section that follows, a critical analysis of the findings is
done and a model for successfully implementing wikis for organizational KM is
presented. Further, some suggestions on ways to meet the challenges identified and
a proposal of research areas that can guide future inquiry are also discussed.
2. The wiki concept
2.1 Defining wikis
Wikis are simply defined as web sites which are collaboratively created by multiple
users in a web browser (Wagner and Majchrzak, 2007). Wikis differ from other
web sites because they not only allow users to contribute but also to modify and update
content automatically (Hester and Scott, 2008). In a wiki, anyone can create a new
page as well as add, edit or delete content within an existing page thereby creating
a “freely, expandable collection of interlinked web pages” (Leuf and Cunningham,
2001, p. 14).
Wikis are described as being made up of two components: the wiki technology and
the social norms or principles enabled by the technology which is also referred to as the
wiki way. Prasarnphanich and Wagner (2009) define the “wiki way” as the underlying
system of social principles or norms, partly embedded in the wiki technology and partly
shared as a code of conduct within the wiki community. The wiki way exhibits certain
characteristics including collaborative writing of shared pages with little individualism,
openness to change and modification by anyone and cumulative, incremental
development which allows integration of new contributions with existing ones.
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org/) is certainly the most well known wiki application and
its phenomenon success has led to the adoption of wikis in other contexts. Wikipedia
symbolizes the collaborative nature of wikis as evidenced in its description as a free
encyclopaedia that is written collaboratively and that anyone can edit. Wikipedia was
created in 2001 and now boasts over 3 million articles[1]. That number continues to grow
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daily as the hundreds of thousands visitors to the site continue to edit and create
thousands of new articles every day.
2.2 Wiki advantages
Wikis are cited as examples of Web 2.0 and social software tools, a group which also
includes weblogs (blogs), folksonomies (social bookmarking, social tagging) and social
network sites (e.g. Facebook, linked in). Web 2.0 tools are defined as a new generation of
web based collaborative tools that are changing the way people work and the way
information is created and shared (Dearstyne, 2007; Hasan and Pfaff, 2006;McAfee, 2006).
Web 2.0 tools emphasise online collaboration and sharing among users. In
organizations, wikis can be used for collaboration between individuals or teams,
located at the same location or at different locations. Wikis offer more opportunities for
collaboration than other Web 2.0 tools (Prasarnphanich and Wagner, 2009). This is
because of the unique characteristics of wiki technology and design which includes:
.Collaborative authorship. Wikis enable web documents to be authored collectively
and individual web pages are not owned by their creators. Any user (registered or
not) can edit the pages and save new page version which replace earlier versions.
.Instant publication. New saved pages are instantly published in the wiki because
there is no editor review. Because any published content is immediately visible,
other users have opportunity to add to the contribution, thereby creating new
content and new opportunities for further editing resulting in a continuous
process of incremental knowledge contribution referred to as wiki magic.
.Versioning. Prior versions are stored in the wikis temporal database. This version
management acts as a safeguard against accidental content destruction or
vandalism as well as providing a way to keep track of prior changes including
author, date and other related information.
.Simplicity of authorship. Wiki authorship is relatively easy and users do not
require any web publication skills. Users can write using plain text or simplified
mark up language. Hyperlinks are easily created using double hypothesis.
2.3 Wikis as knowledge management systems
Higher levels of collaboration enabled by wiki technology can facilitate more effective
knowledge processes (Hester, 2010). Wikis have been referred to as next generation KMS,
providing an alternative to traditional KMS by addressing many of their limitations (Hasan
and Pfaff, 2006). Traditional KMS are described as IT-based systems whose functions
include codifying and sharing of best practices in a knowledge repository and the creation
of corporate knowledge directories and networks (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). The creation of
these repositories is described as time consuming, laborious and costly (Meloche et al.,
2009). These repositories also do not serve their purpose because they are not updated
regularly and are often ignored by knowledge workers (Buffa, 2006; Munson, 2008).
Some researchers argue that KMS have failed to capture tacit organizational
knowledge (Hasan and Pfaff, 2006; O’Leary, 2008). The theory of knowledge creation
(Nonaka, 1994) categorises knowledge as explicit or tacit. Explicit knowledge is defined
as knowledge that can be codified and is transmissible in formal, systematic language
while tacit knowledge is hard to formalise and communicate (Nonaka, 1994; Nonaka and
Takeuchi, 1995). In organizations, tacit knowledge is difficult to capture and exploit
Wikis as KMS
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because it resides inside people (Stenmark, 2001) and is deeply rooted in each individuals
action experiences as well as the ideals, values and emotions they hold (Desouza, 2003).
Conversational technologies (including blogs, wikis and discussion forums) have been
proposed as a way to overcome the problem of managing tacit knowledge in organizations
(Wagner, 2004; Wagner and Bolloju, 2005). Conversational technologies facilitate KM
processes from knowledge creation and storage to knowledge use and refinement. These
processes are carried out “conversationally”, that is, is through a discussion forum where
participants contribute to the discussion with questions and answers, or through a blog
which is typified by a process of storytelling or through a wiki using collaborative writing.
As such, conversational technologies present a KM solution that is inexpensive, fast and
supports the collaboration of people in distributed locations. Wagner (2004) argues that
although conversational technologies like discussion groups and web blogs offer similar
advantages for KM, the wiki technology has the potential to address some specific
knowledge needs including capture of ad hoc as well as distributed knowledge, location
and filtering of knowledge and maintenance of dynamically changing knowledge.
3. Research methodology
Selection of articles
A preliminary selection was undertaken where abstracts of relevant articles were
retrieved from major online research databases, i.e. ProQuest, ScienceDirect, Emerald,
IEEE Digital Library and Academic OneFile. The term “knowledge management” was
used for subject search and the terms “wiki” and “wikis” were used as keywords.
No restriction was imposed on publication year in order to achieve a maximum number
of abstracts. Only full text peer reviewed articles were considered because they provided
detailed information which was necessary for further analysis. Since the focus of the
study was on corporate wikis, the abstracts were carefully read and all articles that
focused on other wikis (educational or public) were eliminated. Some articles were cited
in more than one database and so duplicate copies were deleted. In the second stage of
review the full text of the selected articles was downloaded and read. Only the articles
that described the implementation of a wiki or wikis on corporate intranet for KM and
collaborative activities including knowledge creation, storage, transfer and application
activities and provided a discussion on issues and challenges in the implementation were
retained. A company’s intranet has been defined as a KM tool (Buffa, 2006) and can serve
as an environment to quickly capture and share knowledge (Trkman and Trkman, 2009).
In total, 23 papers were identified as meeting the criteria for inclusion and were
analysed for this review. The studies have been carried out in many different countries
including the UK, USA, and Australia, and the findings are mainly based on single
case studies. The organizations studied cover many different sectors including
engineering, IT, university administration and civil service. The organizations range in
size from a four employee consultancy to a multinational firm with more than 350,000
employees. Some cases were cited in more than one study.
Analysis of journal articles
The 23 articles were analysed using a grounded content approach. This approach
involves analysing the articles without a preconceived research framework. In other
words, the key themes, issues and challenges were identified in each article, and therefore
contributed to a grounded analysis. As new categories were identified an iterative
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approach of reassessing each article was taken. Some articles incorporated five or six of
the categories. Over the 23 articles, six key issues and challenges were identified as shown
in Table I. We organized the findings of the previously published works into six major
issues and challenges: lack of a clear purpose for the wiki, wiki usability, integrating wikis
into established work practices, social issues, role of management and organizational
culture thatsupports knowledge sharing and collaboration. Theseare presented in Table I.
4. Implementing wikis for KM: issues and challenges
Lack of a clear purpose for the wiki
The introduction of wikis in an organization is not always an executive decision.
In some cases, wikis develop as a grass root effort whereby they are initiated by a single
person or a small team without authorisation. Stein and Blaschke (2008) argue that wikis
mainly originate from individuals or teams associated with the IT department whose
members typically enjoy a certain organizational slack when it comes to trying out new
gadgets. Typically, wiki usage spreads when other employees and teams also try out the
wiki. This bottom up approach may affect the widespread adoption of the wiki whereby
wiki adoption is limited only to the team/group or individual who first introduced
the wiki. This approach may also be risky because as wiki usage grows, the wiki may
Issues and challenges
Authors 1 2 3 4 5 6
Arazy et al. (2009) UUUUU
Buffa (2006) UUUU U
Chau and Maurer (2005) UUU
Danis and Singer (2008) U
Garcia-Perez and Ayres (2010) UU
Giordano (2007) UU
Grace (2009) UUU
Hasan and Pfaff (2006) UU
Hester (2010) UU
Holtzblatt et al. (2010) UUUU U
Kosonen and Kianto (2009) UUUU U
Majchrzak et al. (2006) UU
McAfee (2006) UUUU
McKelvie et al. (2007) UUUU U
Meloche et al. (2009) UUUUU
Munson (2008) UUU
Poole and Grudin (2010) UUUU
Raman (2006) U
Stenmark (2005) U
Trkman and Trkman (2009) UUUUU
Stocker and Tochtermann (2009) UUUUUU
White et al. (2009) U
White and Lutters (2007) UUU
Totals 10 15 15 16 9 10
Notes: 1 wiki purpose, 2 wiki usability, 3 integrating the wiki into established work practices,
4 – social issues (user participation and critical mass), 5 – role of management, and 6 – organizational
culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing
Table I.
Wiki literature review:
issues and challenges
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become slower, more difficult and more costly to make changes as the users are locked
into the existing system. In some organizations, the problem is lack of guidelines for
wikis that proliferate without any clear purpose. When a specific goal for the wiki is
outlined, this can result in a well defined implementation strategy involving selection of
the best wiki solution to meet the company’s information needs.
In certain cases, wikis have been widely adopted despite a grassroots approach.
This success is attributed to the existence of a wiki guru or champion who develops the
wiki and advocates for it. The champion needs to be highly committed and motivated to
the wiki cause including taking responsibility for wiki maintenance and administration.
Wiki usability
In a survey of wiki users by Hester (2010), findings indicated that ease of use and relative
advantage were themost important factors that positively influence use of wiki technology.
Usability issues associated with wikis include technical and interface difficulties such as
slow server response times, difficulties in learning wiki syntax and duplication of pages.
Problems associated with open source software may also make it hard to maintain the
quality of the wiki. These problems include short development cycles, lack of a global view
of system constraints, unsystematic and redundant quality assurance activities, lack of
diversity in test environment and small budget for quality assurance. Ensuring
information quality in a wiki may also be problematic because of the dynamic nature of a
wiki which means that the structure and content of the wiki are always changing. This
makes it hard to determine the accuracy or completeness of wiki entries and jeopardises the
trust employees have in the wiki. In order to ensure information quality, a critical mass of
editors among the employees is required. Wiki structuring and organization can also be
problematic especially as usage grows. Wikis are designed to be structured by users
themselves. However, each person may have a different way of organizing andclassifying
data. This makes navigation and search difficult and may lead to chaos.
Integrating the wiki into established work practices
McAfee (2006) argues that implementation of a wiki in an organization does not
guarantee that busy knowledge workers will use the technology. It is a typical case of
“if we build it will they come?”.
In most organizations, there already exist many other collaboration tools.
Employees may be unwilling to learn to use another tool particularly if the purpose of
the wiki is unclear and employees are unsure of the benefits. Employees may need
good reasons to change their work practices such as a belief that the change will
enhance their power and identity. There is also no guarantee that a newly introduced
technology will have lasting power. It is common for technologies to go as quickly as
they come. Trkman and Trkman (2009) point out that fragmentation of the users
among several different technologies can be a problem because the users are not going
to experiment to see which ones will survive in the long run.
The wiki might also not be part of current work practice. Meloche et al. (2009) argue
that for successful wiki adoption, knowledge work needs to be part of the job
description and employees need to be engaged in work processes that incorporate
knowledge capture, sharing and use. Organizations should not just develop a wiki and
expect the employees to adopt knowledge processes that were not previously part of
their work practice. Even where the wiki has been successfully adopted, usage may
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vary depending on the wiki’s intended use. Wikis enable collaborative authorship
where users can edit each other’s work thereby contributing to knowledge creation.
However, employees may be reluctant to do this. In many organizations, particularly
large ones, employees may feel responsible for their work and claim ownership.
The role of management
The role of managers is so crucial that it may determine the success or failure of the wiki.
For instance, White and Lutters (2007) state that every instant of unsuccessful wiki
adoption in their seven case studies cited lack of management support as the primary
reason. Hasan and Pfaff (2006) also report a case of where plans to implement a wiki were
abandoned after the management withdrew its support for the project. Researchers
contend that the major reason for the lack of management support is concerns that the
wiki is a threat to organizational power. In many organizations, a hierarchy exists with
management occupying the top tier and with the employees at the bottom. Knowledge is
seen as a source of power and management are reluctant to share this power with the
employees who they regard as subordinates. Wikis, which are by nature collaborative
tools, allow democratisation of knowledge which threatens the power structure
associated with knowledge in such organizations. On the other hand, in organizations
with flat structures, employees enjoy a high degree of autonomy and empowerment. In
such organizations, knowledge is collectively owned and shared. In order for wikis to be
successfully adopted and be beneficial to the organization, management must allow
democratization of knowledge work as Meloche et al. (2009, p. 47) argue:
It is in the management’s interest to support the Wiki as a KMS because the Wiki will be
maintained by corporate knowledge workers (CKWs) and acquire and disseminate “living
knowledge”.
Training, motivating and rewarding wiki users are issues which need management
support. As previously mentioned, training for all employees is necessary in order to
ensure that the wiki is easy to use. Management support is also needed to encourage wiki
usage. A major problem of corporate wikis is in motivating employees to contribute to it
and use its contents. Management can motivate employees by acknowledging and
rewarding participation. Even where wikis have developed in a bottom up approach
without formal authorisation, management support is necessary to ensure wiki
sustainability and further development. Wikis require leadership to take responsibility
for their administration and maintenance. There are numerous issues related to wiki
usage that management needs to provide leadership and direction for including
maintaining the server, promoting use, resolving disputes, enforcing consistency,
identifying topics that need development and rewarding contributors.
Social issues
Wikis are described as social software. The goal of corporate wiki implementation is
to provide a collaborative environment that facilitates knowledge processes. This can
only be achieved if the organization can create a community of users who not
only contribute but also receive the information. A critical mass of users is required
to make a corporate wiki viable. Unlike public wikis like Wikipedia which require
only a small percentage of active users to assume a critical mass, corporate wikis
require higher ratio of active to passive users in order for the wiki to survive. In some
of the cases viewed, the implemented wiki achieved success in terms of user
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participation during the early stages and then the usage steadily declined until there
were not enough users to make the wiki viable.
Findings from the case studies indicate that employees are reluctant to contribute to
the wiki mainly because they feel the whole process takes up too much of their valuable
time and there is no reward for doing it. Giordano (2007) refers to this as the “economics
of knowledge exchange” which falls into two categories: the costs of sharing knowledge
and the impacts or payoffs of sharing knowledge. The costs include the time taken by the
users to compose a wiki entry and read and other people’s entries. Participants did not
feel that the payoff matched the cost since they were not getting extra money or
professional recognition. This is an issue which has been identified in other studies.
Majchrzak et al. (2006) in their survey of corporate wiki users identified motivating
factors for wiki use including enhanced reputation, making work easier and helping
organizational processes. Organizations should develop a system whereby rewards
and incentives are offered to employees to motivate them contribute to the wiki.
Organizational culture that supports collaboration and knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing is a central issue in wiki literature with researchers mainly focusing
on why employees are reluctant to share knowledge. Even when employees have
indicated their willingness to share knowledge, it might be different in practice.
Some researchers suggest that an organization’s culture impacts on how employees
collaborate and share knowledge. For instance, McAfee (2006, p. 26) refers to the culture
at DrKW as “receptive” and “fertile to cultivate new collaborative practices”. Similarly,
Buffa (2006) argues that there is a strong sharing culture at Google wher e “employees are
pushed to share freely and to learn from each other”. An organizational culture that
supports collaboration and knowledge sharing is enabled by an organizational structure
that is non-hierarchical and where there is democratization of knowledge. In
some organizations, sharing knowledge is not part of employee culture and
knowledge is shared on a need to know basis. Trust is also considered an important
aspect in building an organizational culture that supports KM and collaboration.
5. Discussions and suggestions
The purpose of this study was to identify the major issues and challenges that impact
the adoption and use of corporate wikis for KM. We reviewed 23 published studies on
wiki deployment in various corporate environments. These studies have investigated
wiki potential for KM processes including knowledge creation, storage, transfer and
application. Based on this review, we propose a model for the adoption and use of
corporate wikis for KM (Figure 1).
The model adopts a holistic view of wiki adoption that incorporates four key activities:
establishing a purpose for the wiki, wiki implementation strategy, achieving user
participation and ensuring adoption and value. In the section below, we discuss each of
these activities in greater detail and identify research areas thatneed to be further explored.
Wiki purpose
Research by Gartner inc.[2] indicates that although the demand for KM technologies and
applications is growing, the current economic environment will impact spending on new
technologies. Organizations will justify investments based on ability to address urgent
and critical business initiatives where tangible, business value can be achieved.
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Therefore, organizations need to identify the problem or business challenge that the wiki
is going to address. Stocker and Tochtermann (2009) also argue that the specified problem
situation must be crucial to the core business and relevant to the work practices of
employees. In other words, the wiki must be a tool that the employees need in order to do
their job better.To ensure adoption and use of the wiki, itis also important todelineate the
purpose of the wiki from other tools. As Maron and Maron (2007, p. 128) assert:
Wikipedia’s success is largely due to its contributors having a good understanding what an
encyclopedia is about, and any other application of wiki needs to communicate its purpose
just as clearly.
Identifying a problem or business challenge that the wiki can address is a vital key to
ensuring the widespread adoption and usage ofthe wiki. More research isneeded to address
this issue. For instance, research can focus on investigating the critical success factors
which management perceive in aligning wiki purpose with business goals. Research can
also explore how wikis create new opportunities and how the intangible benefits provided
by wikis can be valued in order to provide quantifiable return on investment.
Wiki implementation strategy
Organizations also need to adopt a strategy for the design and implementation of the wiki.
This includes selecting the best wiki solution based on the information needs of the
organization. There are different wiki platforms available. Mediawiki (www.mediawiki.
org/) is a free open source solution that is easy to set up and configure. It also presents
a friendly and familiar interface as it is the solution Wikipedia is built upon. However,
there are many commercial solutions available such as Confluence (www.atlassian.com/
software/confluence/) and Socialtext (www.socialtext.com). Different wiki software
solutions can be compared at the wikimatrix web site (www.wikimatrix.org/). A prototype
version of the wiki can be designed to show how the wiki will look and feel. Involving
employees in the design of the prototype can help ensure the employees are more receptive
to the wiki and may result in a superior design based on employee expertise. A pilot
Figure 1.
Model for the adoption
and use of corporate
wikis for knowledge
management
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program can be implemented to evaluate the selected wiki solution to ensure usability
before a formal corporate rollout. Management support is needed to provide training and
market the wiki. Management also needs to provide leadership for maintenance and
administration of the wiki as well as setting guidelines and rules for wiki usage. Further
research is needed to explore how wiki implementation should be managed.
User participation
The success of the wiki depends on user participation and involvement. However,
motivating employees to use the wiki is a challenge for most organizations. Munson
(2008) provides a list of previously identified motivators including economic rewards,
increased access to information, reciprocity, career advancement or security, enhanced
reputation, personal satisfaction, enjoyment of helping others knowledge self-efficacy,
process improvement and making work easier. These motivators have been applied
with varying success in different organizations and there is no one solution that suits
all. Organizations are often under the assumption that the wiki will motivate
employees to contribute and employee participation will be automatic. According an
article by PC World[3], this is a myth and the reality is more often an “empty-wiki”
syndrome a wiki site with almost no activity. Therefore, strategies need to put in
place to ensure that employees are motivated to contribute to the wiki. A lot of research
has focused on what motivates wikipedians. More research is needed to understand
what motivates corporate wiki users. Research can also focus on exploring which
motivators are associated with high or low levels of contributions.
Ensuring adoption
An organizational culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration is needed
in order to drive wiki adoption and achieve value. Installing a knowledge sharing culture
is not easy. Davenport et al. (1998) argue that a knowledge friendly culture is one of the
most difficult to create if it does not exist already. However, according to Gurteen (1999)
any organization can create a knowledge sharing culture by encouraging employees to
work together more collaboratively and share. This has happened in some
organizations. Pan and Scarbrough (1998) describes the case of culture change at
Buckman Laboratories. Employees may not know how to share knowledge but they can
be taught especially if the benefits of knowledge sharing are made explicit. These
benefits include working more effectively, job retention, personal development, career
progression and more personal recognition. Further research is needed to explore how
various cultural factors influence corporate wiki adoption and what strategies or
initiatives organizations should take to create and develop a knowledge sharing culture.
6. Conclusion
The wiki phenomenon has gathered substantial support within organisations. It has its
foundations in a grassroots approach and much of its appeal was related to its open
and democratic philosophy. However, recent studies have begun to highlight issues and
limitations in their use as KMS. In this paper, we have identified the major issues and
challenges impacting the adoption and use of corporate wikis for KM processes including
knowledge creation, storage, access and transfer. We argue that the successful adoption
of wikis requires a formal and structured approach that addresses four key areas as shown
in Figure 1: identifying a purpose for the wiki that is aligned to organizational goals,
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developing an implementation strategy that is supported by management, achieving user
participation by motivating employees to contribute to the wiki and driving adoption
through creation of a knowledge sharing culture. We have also identified research areas
that need to be further addressed in order to make the wiki adoption model viable.
Notes
1. These figures were accessed on 21 June 2010. Wikipedia statistics are updated daily.
2. www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Feature/Aligning-KM-investments-with-critical-
business-initiatives 48965.aspx
3. www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/158694/three_myths_of_the_enterprise_wiki.html
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Further reading
Choate, M.S. (2008), Professional Wikis, Wiley, Indianapolis, IN.
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International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS’06 ), ACM Press, New York, NY,
pp. 182-188.
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Information Systems Research Center, available at: www.coulthard.com/library/Files/
gonzalez-reinhart_2006.pdf
Pfaff, C. and Hasan, H. (2007), “Democratising organisational knowledge: the potential of the
corporate wiki”, paper presented at the International Conference on Information Systems
(ICIS), Montreal, Canada.
Rick, J. and Gudzial, M. (2006), “Situating CoWeb: a scholarship of application”, International
Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 89-115.
Corresponding author
Craig Standing can be contacted at: c.standing@ecu.edu.au
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... Plusieurs articles indiquent que les wikis sont de plus en plus utilisés par les entreprises (Hasan & Pfaff, 2006 ;Grace, 2009 ;Razmerita & Kirchner, 2011 ;Singh et 129 al., 2013). Toutefois, il est nécessaire de faire attention au contexte dans lequel on tente de les appliquer, car ils ne sont pas toujours adaptés (Jackson & Koblas, 2013 ;Kiniti & Standing, 2013). ...
... Sans cette "masse critique", le wiki n'est pas assez dynamique/ ne propose pas assez de contenu et il est alors progressivement abandonné. Pour pallier cela, il faut mettre en place une culture d'entreprise encourageant le partage des connaissances (Kiniti & Standing 2013). ...
... Une absence de but lors de la mise en place du wiki conduit à une solution qui répond mal aux besoins de l'entreprise et qui est peu utile dans le cadre de ses activités. Kiniti & Standing, 2013) Crucial Atteinte d'un nombre suffisant d'utilisateurs actifs pour garantir le bon fonctionnement du wiki en créant une culture d'entreprise encourageant le partage des connaissances. (Kiniti & Standing, 2013) Secondaire Éléments de motivation des utilisateurs à utiliser le wiki Kiniti & Standing, 2013 ; Secondaire Temps disponible pour utiliser le wiki et partager ses connaissances Crucial Mise en place d'indicateurs permettant l'évaluation de l'impact du wiki ...
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... But before implementing the wikis, one should be aware of its loopholes as well. In the same context, Kiniti and Standing (2013) conducted the study, aimed to highlight and investigate the main problems having the influence of accomplishment wikis as a KMS. From the previous studies conducted on the use of wikis as Knowledge Management System in organizations, six main problems came to be known like "lack of a clear purpose for the wiki, wiki usability, integrating wikis into established work practices, social issues, role of management and organizational culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration". ...
... From the previous studies conducted on the use of wikis as Knowledge Management System in organizations, six main problems came to be known like "lack of a clear purpose for the wiki, wiki usability, integrating wikis into established work practices, social issues, role of management and organizational culture that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration". Some cases were also witnessed where wikis as a KMS has failed to meet the optimum goals of the organization [39]. ...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to follow the planning and development of MapaWiki, a Knowledge Management System for Mapa, an independent research company that specialises in competitor benchmarking. Starting with the standard requirements to capture, store and share information and knowledge, a system was sought that would allow growth and expansion whilst supporting the quick and easy recording and maintenance of interactions between employees. Design/methodology/approach – Trying to identify the optimum KM solution, the social and technical systems within the organisation cooperated in the investigation of different approaches and in the system's design and development. From the case study perspective the Yin (1994) approach was adopted as a framing and guiding schema. This was further shaped through the action research aspect, involving problem‐solving and generating new knowledge and awareness. The solution selection methodology followed was based on the framework proposed by Despres and Chauvel (1999). Findings – The application of MapaWiki as a KM system has been very successful. It has already become the central tool for collaboration within the company as well as the central knowledge repository where users add comments and suggestions to articles related to product development, meetings minutes, conference notes etc. Originality/value – This case study has highlighted the underlying power of the wiki concept and has shown how it can be extended substantially from its original use, typically a notice board or brainstorming tool. Our example demonstrates an interactive collaborative environment that allows for the capture, storage, and sharing of information, knowledge and knowledge sharing practice, that has improved efficiency and the adoption of good practices.