An Integrated Knowledge Management Model for Community Enterprises: A Case Study of a Rural Community Enterprise in Thailand
This research seeks to explore the characteristics, organisational culture and current knowledge management (KM) practice in a community enterprise (CE). Prae Pun - a hand weaving CE in the northeast rural area of Thailand - has typical CE characteristics - self-employed and collaborative management, and a home-based production system utilising local resources and knowledge. This research used a qualitative method. Data were collected through narrative inquiry, participant observation and document analysis. The 18 respondents were Prae Pun members, committee members, an advisory committee member and office staff members. The data were analysed through theme analysis. The findings of this research reveal that, although community members would not be aware of doing so, Prae Pun managed its knowledge through informal educational activities - learning by doing and observation - and work processes concerned with collaboration and informality. The current KM practice of Prae Pun entails three processes: basic skill development, competence building and new knowledge creation through creation, capture, sharing, transferring, verification, utilisation and codification. Significantly for this study, KM of Prae Pun focuses on organisational knowledge creation and indigenous knowledge systems. The current KM of Prae Pun also has four other components. Its knowledge resources come from members, other villagers, other hand weaving groups, support organisations and markets. Most of the knowledge is tacit and indigenous. The operation and management systems determine the knowledge processes and provide supportive and incentive systems. The organisational culture and resources, including funding, social capital and appropriate technologies, also provide supportive and incentive systems. The resources are also the tools that facilitate the knowledge processes. The knowledge assets encompass actual assets - products, cloth designs, techniques, and operation and management systems - and competencies including members' skills and abilities, social capital, and shared values, which are not registered as intellectual properties but are in the forms of organisational memories. The traditional KM practice of Prae Pun can be possibly strengthened by integrating modern KM concepts, including knowledge resources from academic and government agencies, appropriate technologies to facilitate knowledge codification and knowledge transfer, extrinsic reward and incentive systems, and facilitators or consultants to enhance members' communities of practice (CoPs). The findings of this study and the KM model contribute to both CE development and further research on KM in a CE context and indigenous KM.