Alternative Social Learning Models within the Public Sector

By: Xolani Ngonini  

Recently, institutionalizing knowledge creation and sharing practices, in the public sector, have been considered key to innovation, collaboration and improved public service delivery. Within this framework, knowledge is regarded as a core to the business strategy of a public entity. In spite of the introduction of knowledge management strategies and other associated reforms, such as "new public management" from the private sector, transfer of knowledge, and its coordination is still a challenge within the public sector and more especially in a country which has been historically racially divided. In part, this may be attributed to the fact knowledge is embedded in social relations and requires a substantial accumulation of social and cultural capital, but also it may be due to the fact that most public entities have not embraced the notion ‘dynamic capabilities’ to effectively coordinate and redeploy internal and external services. Through the use of Teece’s notion of ‘dynamic capability’ and boundary spanning, this paper reports on a case study of the implementation of a knowledge management strategy in a state-owned entity mandated to develop bulk infrastructure to support the country’s economic growth and social development. Based on in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, the paper argues that the "archeology of organization knowledge" ought to be debated openly across all levels of employment and across gender and racial lines. Current organizational systems do not provide substantive approaches which enhance interrelations and foster transformation: the ways of speaking about history are still anchored in racial and gender discursive practices.

Knowledge Creation, Boundary
Organizational Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Xolani Ngonini

Ngonini holds a Master's Degree in Industrial Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published several research and evaluative articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as contributed book chapters.