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Concept definition in knowledge management : the development of an organizational memory scale
conference contributionposted on 2009-01-01, 00:00 authored by Annette Dunham, C Burt
Theorists and researchers in the field of Knowledge Management are frequently frustrated by issues with concept definition, as illustrated by the following comment "there remains disagreement on methodologies, definitions and processes" from the summary article "Issues Raised at ECKM, 2008". How can we clearly define constructs of interest? How can we further research and understanding in the field if we are speaking with different vocabularies? This paper illustrates some of these issues by describing the concept definition process involved in the development of an organizational memory scale. The example being used to illustrate these issues was a self-report scale of organizational memory developed to survey experienced workers' attitudes to mentoring others to pass on their knowledge. The current research sought to differentiate between the types of organizational knowledge that experienced workers have and the possible relationships these have with attitudes pertaining to knowledge transfer via mentoring. Defining the construct to be measured is the vital first ingredient in scale development. Many researchers lament that the concept of organizational memory is a "rather loosely defined and under-developed concept" (e.g. Johnson & Paper, 1998, p.504), and this hints at the challenges that concept definition can entail. Furthermore, in the early stages of this particular project it became clear that the organizational memory scale had similar aims, and was able to borrow from, an existing sale of organizational socialization (Chao, O'Leary-Kelly, Woolf, Klein & Gardner, 1994). This paper describes the concept definition process involved in the development of the scale along with results from the exploratory factor analysis. There is a discussion of the relative contribution that the organizational memory scale makes alongside the existing measure of socialization (Chao et al., 1994), along with goals for further development.