Purpose – This paper reports on research investigating storytelling as a means of eliciting tacit knowledge from retiring subject matter experts (SMEs) within a large South African organization. Design/methodology/approach – Sixty-four stories were collected over a 12 month period covering a varied range of technical disciplines and were analysed using grounded theory principles combined with expert reviews.
Findings – Despite the diverse nature of the stories they were able to be coded and categorised into 21 knowledge management constructs which, were further refined by expert review down to 14 final constructs. Research limitations/implications – The main limitation of this study is the generalizability of the findings, which may be limited by the fact the study was conducted in one large South African organisation.
Practical implications – A common language is a key prerequisite for sharing knowledge. Every discipline within an organisation has its own language by which it communicates with insiders; this is particularly true of the ICT field. Through the common language of KM, tacit knowledge from SMEs can be elicited and classified for future access by people of all levels within the organisation.
Originality/value – To the author’s knowledge this is the first attempt at classifying organizational stories using a knowledge management (KM) frame. The work presented in this paper is a step towards a KM taxonomy of organisational stories.
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