Health care decision-makers and knowledge management in the context of a regionalized health care system
Knowledge management is considered a necessary precursor to organizational success. This view is increasingly prevalent in the case of the health care sector. Two main knowledge management strategies are recognized: codification and personalization strategies. An organization’s choice of knowledge management strategy depends on its objectives and the dominant form of knowledge informing its decision-making processes.Health care decision-makers have access to a wealth of knowledge with which to inform their decisions. Little is known, however, about how the various types of knowledge are managed to optimize their use in decision-making. This study examines the knowledge management strategies of health care decision-makers working in the context of a regionalized health care system. The potential of communities of practice as a conceptual means for understanding health care knowledge management is also explored.Members of Regional health authorities (RHAs) in the province of Saskatchewan constitute the unit of analysis for the study, which is guided by a qualitative research design. Interviews were used as the main data collection technique. For data analysis, “open and axial” coding methods based on the inductive and deductive approaches were adopted.The study concludes that regional health authority (RHA) members utilize more fully explicit rather than tacit forms of knowledge. One of the main knowledge management practices adopted by the RHA members is the use of professional reports. This indicates that RHA members pursue a codification strategy more strongly than a personalization strategy. Moreover, it was found that the practices and strategies associated with managing knowledge were in place, despite the absence of a stated knowledge management policy. Finally, RHAs cannot be regarded as communities of practice, even though they exhibit many of their features.Recommendations include the following: (1) the need for RHAs to institutionalize a knowledge management policy to guide their knowledge management processes and strategies, and (2) the cultivation of online communities of practice to marshal the tacit knowledge of RHA members, and that of the public, as an intervention to complement the use of explicit knowledge.
Regionalization, Personalization, Codification, Knowledge Management Practices, Knowledge Management Strategies, Sociology, Knowledge System
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)