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Knowledge Management and HRM Issues



This paper critically analyses the role of human resource policies and practise in promoting knowledge management and learning, at Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The ACIAR is a statutory authority in Australia’s Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, mandated with planning, funding and managing projects in development and agricultural areas in developing countries (ACIAR 2014). Accordingly, the relevant HR policies and practices in the organisation are also reviewed, in addition to ways in which the policies and practices can be improved.

Brief overview of current practices

ACIAR’s (2014) mission, vision, strategy and value statements are contained in corporate documents. The organisation’s human resource department is dedicated to strategic issues linked to staffing. It also advises the managing director and other leaders within the organisation. The human resource department consults constantly with the company directors and other department heads to take lead in all issues concerning the welfare of the human resources.

Several HR products are available, including policy manuals, job descriptions, and identification of competencies. In terms of organisational culture, there is a formal internal communication strategy. To ensure that employees are aware of the strategy, the company has a sound induction process for new recruits.

In staffing, human resource management provides guidance while the departmental heads resolve problems linked to developing and undertaking knowledge management initiative. They work closely with the human resources. Employee training and development is offered at various levels of the organisation, and include competency development, functional training and technical training.

Assessment of Effectiveness of the policies and procedures

Leadership and strategy

The HR practices and policies offer means to guide and motivate teams and employees to work towards meeting organisational goals (Guest et al. 2003). The knowledge management policies promote information sharing within the organisation, as well as with the stakeholders, which in turn helps generate new knowledge (Pfeffer 1995).

The policies and the knowledge management practices of the ACIAR are created by the HR department and should however promote teamwork, knowledge sharing, innovation, and institutional change, so as to improve organisational performance.

Essentially therefore, ACIAR’s knowledge management initiatives are fully supported by leadership, from the chief executive officer. In regards to the mission, the organisation’s building capacity, sharing knowledge and promoting partnerships are unequivocally communicated in the mission statement. The corporate documents that contain the mission, vision and values use language that explicitly promote collaboration, knowledge sharing, teamwork, partnerships, creativity, collaboration and continued improvement (Baldini 2005).

The vision is clear on the kind of organisation it inspires to be. It hopes to be recognised as knowledge centre. The clarity of language indicates to the organisation’s staff what is significant to the organisation, and manages to guide them in their work (Alcázar et al. 2005).

The HR practices, namely performance, recruiting and organisation design use practices that support these aspects. Concerning values, the value statement at ACIAR is made up of qualities that support institutional learning, knowledge sharing and continuous improvement.

It is effective in knowledge management as it promotes peer feedback and procedures or working collaboratively. However, they do not clearly state whether knowledge sharing, top management and knowledge management are the key goals (Von Krogh et al 2000).

Knowledge Fairs

The organisation arranges for regular employee meetings to share knowledge and talk about their activities and work. These knowledge fairs are scheduled each month in different units and departments so that employees can share their experiences and challenges. These are effective as they help in promoting knowledge sharing (Baldini 2005).

Organisational culture

The company’s approach is to hire HR managers who report directly to the chief executive officer. The HR manager provides guidance, expert leadership and strategic direction. In terms of knowledge management, the HR function is essentially to provide advisory services to the employees and leaders. This effectively ensures knowledge sharing and flow, hence preserving positive organisational cultures (Armstrong 2006)


Essentially, among the competencies incorporated in job profiles, support knowledge sharing and organisational learning. The competencies that support knowledge management include business acumen, communication, innovation and change. They are used in performance evaluation. They also guide requirement for employee development (Boselie et al. 2001). The recruitment process also look at behavioural competencies that support knowledge sharing, namely teamwork, collaboration and consensus-building. They are effective in guiding behaviour, performance and decision-making. There is however no structure to capture and store knowledge in case of employee departure or retirement (Caliskan 2010).

Leadership and employee development

The methods used in delivering employee training include e-learning modules, hiring staff and sending out employees to conduct training. At the organisation, employee training is implemented through systematic training needs assessment (TNA). There is however no defined recruitment procedures, interview guides or profiles with the set out competencies aimed at promoting knowledge sharing. This limits the chances of hiring the most competent candidates (Baldini 2005).

Organisational learning

The company uses a strategic focus and promotes learning processes based on behaviour, ability and knowledge. The departmental heads are in charge of identifying and securing competencies needed for department, as well as coaching employees to attain required competencies. While it may be successful in promoting learning, change and knowledge sharing, some divisions may become more successful than others, hence building inter-unit learning (Von Krogh et al 2000). This shows that the human resources is significantly involved as a strategic partner in organisational change initiatives.

The rewards are basically monetary in nature. Team recognition is carried out once a year and a team award is given. The members of the teams selected are given huge monetary rewards and exposure. Critically, this is motivating to the worker. It also promotes teamwork and information sharing (Baldini 2005).

Recommendations and conclusion

Knowledge management and staff development policies geared to ACIAR’s mission and strategy are aimed at ensuring that the organisation reaches its goals. On the other hand, the human resources policies and practices offers ways for motivating and guiding teams and employees to work collaboratively towards meeting the organisation’s goals, based on their role profiles. Further, institutional learning, knowledge sharing and change elements in knowledge management strategy lead to continuous improvement, which further contributes to acquisition of competitive advantage. To ensure ACIAR’s effectiveness of the practices and policies, several recommendations are made:

The HR policies should be correlated and support the vision, mission, strategy, values as well as support the goals of the organisation. Additionally, for the organisational learning aspects of the mission statement to succeed, they should have clear criteria for selection of staff, evaluation of performance as well as the practices related to providing rewards and incentives (Woldemariam 2012).

The HR practices and policies should also become a central constituent of organisational culture. The company should also create the position of chief knowledge officer to help in promoting the knowledge management strategy.

The vision, mission statement and goals should clearly state whether knowledge sharing, top management and knowledge management are the key goals. There should also be a structure that captures and stores knowledge in case of employee departure or retirement. Further, there should be clearly defined recruitment procedures, interview guides or profiles with the set out competencies, aimed at promoting knowledge sharing.

Reference List

ACIAR 2014, Who we are, 20 Aug 2014, <http://aciar.gov.au/who-we-are>

Alcázar, F, Fernández, P & Gardey, G 2005, “Researching on SHRM: An analysis of the debate over the role played by human resources in firm success,” Management Revue, vol.16 no. 2, 213-241.

Armstrong, M 2006, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, Kogan Page Publishers, London

Baldini, K 2005, Human Resources Policies and Practices, Knowledge Sharing and Institutional Learning and Change in the CGIAR, viewed 20 Aug 2014, http://ictkm.cgiar.org/images/stories/pdf/hr_report.pdf

Boselie, J, Paauwe, J & Jansen, P 2001, «Human resource management and performance: lessons from the Netherlands», International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 12, pp. 1107-1125.

Caliskan, N 2010, «The Impact of Strategic Human Resource Management on Organizational Performance,» Journal of Naval Science and Engineering, Vol. 6, No.2, pp. 100-116

Guest, D, Michie, J, Conway, N & Sheehan, M 2003, «Human Resource Management and Corporate Performance in the UK», British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 291-314.

Pfeffer, J 1995, «Producing sustainable competitive advantage through the effective management of people», Academy of Management Executive, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 55-69

Von Krogh, G, Ichijo, K & Nonaka, I 2000, Enabling Knowledge Creation: How to Unlock the Mystery of Tacit Knowledge and Release the Power of Innovation, Oxford University Press, New York

Woldemariam, A 2012, Challenges And Problems In Knowledge Management Practice Of Ethio Telecomm Organization: The Case Of Head Office And Selected Three Zones, viewed 20 Aug 2014, <http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30393138/A_THESIS_SUBMITTED_TO_SCHOOL_OF_GRADUATE_STUDIES_ADDIS_ABABA_UNIVERSITY-libre.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1408566015&Signature=SAB8Xp8jBhH6KhjaYUP8DmOY0Qk%3D>