The role of knowledge management in institutional strategy development and competitiveness at leading African universities

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The role of knowledge management as a strategic intervention in higher education in developing economies has not been studied extensively. Higher education plays a central role in a country’s economy through knowledge creation and dissemination to its stakeholders. The main purpose of this article was to examine the role and influence of knowledge management in decision-making and strategy formulation at leading universities in Africa and to establish if knowledge management was adding value and competitiveness to the institutions. A survey across 20 leading African universities was conducted in 2014. A mixed method of quantitative and qualitative approaches was adopted. The results show that knowledge management does have the potential to positively influence institutional strategy formulation, but should ideally be represented at executive level for its potential to be fully realized. More knowledge management practice is needed in the areas of academic teaching and learning, and research. There was a lack of sophisticated and powerful knowledge management Information Systems in most of Africa’s leading institutions. Those institutions that utilized KM more strategically, inclusive of specialized KM Information Systems were the higher ranked institutions. This suggests that knowledge management could play a crucial role in a University’s success and competitiveness.

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    • Figure 1. How collected data/information is being used by the respondents’ division/department
    • Figure 2. Frequency of institutional knowledge management presentations
    • Figure 3. Strategic use of knowledge management at the respondents’ institutions
    • Figure 4. Strategic use of knowledge management
    • Figure 5. Provision of Knowledge Management Systems to facilitate academic research
    • Table 1. List of universities in South Africa and greater Africa chosen for the study
    • Table 2. Does KM add value to the division/department?
    • Table 3. Types of Knowledge Management Information Systems used and frequency of use
    • Table 4. Knowledge management practice and KMIS improves efficiency, competitiveness and continuous learning
    • Table 5. University respondents by number and location