Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management

Committee Director

Charles Keating

Committee Member

Derya A. Jacobs

Committee Member

Paul Kauffmann

Committee Member

Bruce Bowman


The purpose of this research was to develop and apply a systems-based, analysis methodology which constructs and represents an organization's knowledge system. The research inquiry was guided by four questions: (1) “what is an organizational knowledge system?” (2) “how can it be made explicit?” (3) “does the representation accurately depict the organization's perspective of their unique knowledge system?” and (4) “what results from the deployment of the organizational knowledge system methodology?” The resultant answers to these research questions advanced and established the theoretical conception of an organization's knowledge system through the development of a methodology that fosters the construction and representation of the knowledge system.

This study extends the existing scholarly literature by developing the concept of an organizational knowledge system through the synthesis of organizational learning and knowledge literature, thereby bridging a gap in the literature by holistically linking knowledge creation with current learning processes. The developed organizational knowledge system and model graphically present an organization's unique knowledge system transforming what is most often a tacit understanding into a form that is explicit at a collective level. The research design applied the organizational knowledge system methodology to two organizations using a detailed step by step process, and evaluated each organization's knowledge system using a mixed methodology analysis which combined quantitative and qualitative data collection methods and analysis techniques.

The findings of this research indicated that an organization's knowledge system can be explicitly constructed and represented. Furthermore, the research clearly indicated that an organization's knowledge system is unique. This is evidenced not only in the mechanisms of an organization's knowledge system, but more importantly the relational links between the components of their knowledge system. Also, the research indicates that the organizational knowledge system methodology is transferable to other organizations. This was accomplished by assessing each organization as an independent entity with its own unique knowledge system and contextual environment. Lastly, this research develops new theory (the organizational knowledge system) that addresses the holistic perspective and relationship between organizational learning and knowledge. In summary, this research equips organizations with the capability to know, understand, and manage their unique organizational knowledge system.