Governmental agencies have been assisted in the achievement of their goals and the improvement of the quality of their organizational offerings via technological developments [1
]. Potentially, convenience and accessibility of governmental services and information to citizens through the use of technology can be aided [2
]. Additionally, technology can help in the decentralization of public administration and in the enhancement of the government's ability to oversee key activities [3
]. However, governmental agencies should understand that the implementation of technology, in and of itself, is not sufficient. As such, many organizations recognize that the key to increasing overall effectiveness is the combination of appropriate technology with effective knowledge resource management. Effective knowledge management (KM) is an ever-growing need for government, at all levels [4
]. Consequently, the promise of delivering better e-government services and improved performance is causing many governmental organizations to place greater importance on the development of knowledge management systems.
In order for organizations to sustain improved business performance, knowledge has become a vital component [5
]. The synergy created by the capacity of information processing integrated with the human capacity for creativity embodies the power of knowledge management to increase the responsiveness and flexibility of an organization [6
]. The desire to enhance productivity and efficiency is often the driving force for Information Systems (IS) implementation in the public sector. In fact, KM is shown to be a business enabler in some research [7
Businesses, government employees, and citizens all benefit from the services that e-government provides. Knowledge-focused approaches deliver more effective services and better representation requiring that e-government possess a wealth of information and knowledge [4
]. The motivation for this study lies in the documentation and testing of the importance of technology and knowledge in e-government as it relates to the examination of knowledge management and leadership. The lack of relevant studies related to KM in public sector e-government also highlights the need for further investigation. Additionally, there is a paucity of quantitative assessment of leadership and KM contributions to e-government, even though leadership is recognized as an important component. The purpose of this study is to develop and conduct preliminary testing on a model that identifies the relationship between leadership and knowledge management in an e-government context. Our findings significantly contribute to the literature beyond the traditional findings about the importance of leadership to KM because we have shown this relationship within the context of the MBNQA model. Using the MBNQA context gives the leadership—KM connection credibility that extends into other fields such as quality and operations management.
3. Research Model
In an effort to leverage their knowledge resources organizations are turning to knowledge management (KM) initiatives and technologies. Due to the importance of technology and knowledge in e-government, this study examines knowledge management as it relates to the leadership triad within the MBNQA model. Figure 1
shows our research model in which the Leadership Triad is a second order construct that consists of three reflective first-order constructs: leadership, strategic planning and customer and market focus.
The MBNQA model shows that leadership, strategic planning and customer and market focus are correlated. Theoretical grounds justify the existence of a reflective second order construct—leadership triad. Nickerson and Zenger [35
] contend that leadership has a functional role in supporting the generation of knowledge. They propose that an organization should structure itself in a manner that enhances knowledge generation and handling. This idea served as an essential motivation for the city government used in this study in the evaluation of its current structure via the MBNQA survey and pursuit of any necessary changes for the purpose of enhancing its e-government capabilities. The most recent MBNQA model posits that the leadership triad is correlated with knowledge management. Thus we propose:
Hypothesis 1: There is a direct positive relationship between the leadership triad and knowledge management in an E-government context.
In examining knowledge portal development within the public sector, Teo [7
] finds that top management support and commitment promotes knowledge sharing. In order to prosper, organizations depend on their leadership to drive continuous improvement and constant innovation. According to Fedor et al
] there are several key drivers of member performance-related rating which include leadership, knowledge generation, and dissemination. Leadership consistently emerges as associated with good practice and provides focus, direction, vision, coherence, and the ideas that are required to interact with KM systems to deliver better results [37
]. Therefore, we propose:
Hypothesis 2: There is a positive relationship between leadership and knowledge management in an E-government context.
One particular concept that is emphasized within the strategic management literature is that knowledge management (KM) provides a competitive advantage. Developing strategic plans requires extensive knowledge of the relevant customers, markets, suppliers, competitors, etc
. The strategic management literature suggests that strategy leads to organizing capital and resource allocations that result in superior competitive advantages [38
]. A critical source of resource developed within an organization is in fact knowledge [28
]. Strategic advantage in competitive environments can be obtained and sustained via KM [39
]. The direction of KM is usually dictated by strategy and it is advantageous to align that KM in a manner that is consistent with an organization’s strategy [40
]. KM is strategic in nature and during this process new competencies are developed for organizations to sustain and compete in a dynamic environment [41
]. Consistent with this theory, we posit:
Hypothesis 3: There is a positive relationship between strategic planning and knowledge management in an E-government context.
Knowledge management instruments are employed by many organizations in an effort to enhance their customer relations. Strategy, processes, systems and change management are all important to make knowledge-based customer relationship management initiatives successful, and should be considered by organizations [42
]. KM systems capture customer knowledge that allows the development of innovative products or services as well as business process transformation. In addition, building knowledge based effective practices when interacting with customers or markets can effectively leverage relationships with important stakeholders. The improvement of customer relationships by constantly monitoring the customers’ behavioral and internal processes is a fundamental concept facilitated by KM [43
]. Therefore, organizations with a customer and market focus emphasize KM. We propose:
Hypothesis 4: There is a positive relationship between customer and market focus and knowledge management in an E-government context.
4.1. Respondent Organization
The organization studied in this research is a municipal government in the southwestern United States. The City, which employs 1,110 individuals, is classified as a small-to-medium sized municipality with a population of approximately 115,000. It was ranked in the top twenty-five of the fastest growing cities in the nation with populations over 100,000 in 2008 and 2009. The City is home to two major universities and thus, the average age is lower than the national average (33.8 years versus 37.8 years). The City requested that the research team help them to evaluate its e-government initiatives in order to enhance the quality and effectiveness of its operations
4.2. Survey Development
The research team worked with city government managers in developing and reviewing a survey capturing the MBNQA 2002 framework criteria to test our proposed model. The research team modified Prybutok and Spink’s [20
] MBNQA instrument, updating the instrument to reflect the 2002 MBNQA criteria from the earlier version used in the Prybutok and Spink study. The instrument was also modified to fit the government sector context of this study. To ensure the appropriateness and content validity of the revisions, first, a group of ten experts with extensive experience in both survey research and quality management reviewed the modified instrument. These experts consisted of five faculty members and five Ph.D. students from MIS, Management Science, and Psychology.
During the instrument development, the research team had lengthy discussions and correspondence with city managers and employees regarding the substance and format of the survey as well as the survey delivery mechanics. Because of their expertise in quality control, a pilot test of the instrument was conducted at a meeting of the Dallas chapter of the American Society for Quality to assess the instrument for content and clarity. The instrument was modified based upon the comments received and the analysis of the pilot study data.
The KM items used in this survey capture the characteristics of the knowledge management process: knowledge creation, storage, and utilization. The development of these KM items is consistent with Holsapple and Joshi’s [44
] and O’Dell et al
] conceptualization of KM. For example, Holsapple and Joshi [44
] state that the nature and particular structure of knowledge influence the methods by which it is identified, captured, indexed, stored, disseminated, updated, and disposed of once it becomes obsolete. O'Dell et al
] emphasized that the focus of KM should be on getting the right information to the right people at the right time. Specifically, reflecting the knowledge management cycle, we use timely update of explicit knowledge to measure the knowledge creation process, consistency of and review of explicit knowledge to measure the knowledge storage process, and items capturing benchmarking, systematic analysis of performance data internally and externally to measure the knowledge utilization process. The Leadership Triad items measuring leadership, strategic planning, and customer and market focus were adapted from Prybutok and Spink [20
] as stated above. The final items by construct are shown in Table 1
. The range of responses on the Likert scale were from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
Survey items to measure Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) criteria.
Survey items to measure Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) criteria.
CoD has strong values for achieving high quality performance that applies consistently throughout all facets of the organization (AB1).
CoD has good communication channels through which top management’s direction (values and expectations) clearly delivered to employees (AB2).
Management of the CoD clearly sets strategy, goals, and objectives for future directions for the organization (AB3).
Management of the CoD establishes and reinforces environment for empowerment and innovation (AB4).
Management of the CoD encourages and supports organizational and employee learning (AB5).
CoD evaluates performance and capabilities of all functions of the organization on a regular basis (AB6).
CoD uses recent performance review findings as feedback for improvement and innovation opportunities (AB7).
Management in CoD is concerned with the impact on society of our products, services, or operations (AB8).
CoD actively supports and strengthens our relationships with key segment of the community (such as education, community service organizations, religious organizations, or professional associations) (AB9).
| 2. Strategic Planning|
10. CoD has a well-defined short-term (1-2 years) plan to help achieve its goals and objectives (AB10).
11. CoD has a well-defined long-term (2-5 years) plan to help achieve its goals and objectives (AB11).
12. CoD has a well-defined strategy/plan to increase Customer/citizen/citizen satisfaction (AB12).
13. CoD has well-defined human resource requirements and plans which consider employees’ capabilities and needs (AB13).
14. CoD has a well-defined strategy/plan to enhance supplier/partner relationships (AB14).
15. CoD has well-defined strategy/plan to address key goals and objectives (AB15).
16. CoD employs performance measures or indicators for tracking progress relative to its action plans (AB16).
17. CoD allocates resources well to ensure accomplishment of overall action plans (AB17).
|3. Customer and Market Focus|
CoD has a formal method for determining current product/service requirements and expectations of its Customer/citizens/citizens (AB18).
CoD has a formal method for determining future product/service requirements and expectations of its Customer/citizens/citizens (AB19).
CoD has a formal method for identifying Customer/citizen/citizen groups and market segments (AB20).
CoD has effective Customer/citizen relationship practices that enable Customer/citizens/citizens to seek assistance, comments, or complaints (AB21).
CoD continuously improves its Customer/citizen/citizen relationship management practices (AB22).
CoD determines key Customer/citizen/citizen contact requirements and delivers them to all employees involved in the response chain (AB23).
CoD resolves Customer/citizen/citizen complaints promptly and effectively (AB24).
CoD formally examines Customer/citizen/citizen complaints in order to make necessary improvements to its processes (AB25).
CoD measures and analyzes current levels of Customer/citizen/citizen satisfaction and dissatisfaction (AB26).
CoD compares its Customer/citizen satisfaction results with similar organizations (AB27).
|4. Knowledge Management|
| CoD provides effective performance measurement systems and techniques for ensuring each of the following (28–32):|
11. Data and information reliability (AB 28)
12. Data and information consistency (AB29)
13. Data and information accessibility (AB30)
14. Data and information review (AB31).
15. Timely update of data and information (AB32)
16. CoD regularly performs comparisons of its performance to similar world-class organization benchmarks in order to support its performance, evaluation, and improvement (AB33).
17. Performance data and information gathered internally is systematically analyzed to help support overall quality objectives (AB34).
18. Performance data and information gathered externally is systematically analyzed to help support overall quality objectives (AB35).
4.4. Survey Administration
Our model examines how the leadership triad components effect KM enabled e-government effectiveness. Because employees have an understanding about government operations, familiarity with organizational knowledge creation, storage, sharing, and utilization processes, screening complaints, and maintaining systems, their judgment about these issues are relevant and useful. Because citizens are unfamiliar with internal government operations and the knowledge creation cycle and, given the purpose of our study, we chose not to include them.
The target population of our survey was 1,110 employees of a city government. Via email, we requested that the employees participate in our on-line survey regarding e-government initiatives. Two weeks after the initial email, a follow up email was sent. The survey was available to employees for five weeks. A total of 339 responses were recorded, representing a 30.82% response rate. However, 20% of those responses contain incomplete data and were discarded from further analyses, leaving 178 useful responses. We examined nonresponse bias by comparing the demographics variables of age, gender, educational level, and years of experience of the respondents with those of the population. No significant differences were found.
6. Discussion and Conclusion
The statistical significance of our model supports the role that leadership plays in knowledge management within an e-government context. Our model shows that the leadership triad is a meaningful categorization of three important components of the MBNQA, and that these components are relevant in an e-government environment. The first triad component, leadership, articulates top management’s goals, values and expectations. Ways in which leadership is manifested in a practical manner include: stressing the importance of high quality performance through performance review feedback, supporting organizational and employee learning and innovation, and ensuring that the functional capabilities of the organization are evaluated on a regular basis.
The second triad component, strategic planning, ensures that plans are well defined to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. This includes assessing the internal human resource requirements and external supplier/vendor relationships needed to meet those goals and objective. Implementing measures or indicators for tracking progress relative to action plans are an important part of the strategic planning process.
The third triad component is customer and market focus. To truly be market focused, there must be formal methods for determining current and future requirements and expectations of citizens. This includes incorporating practices that allow citizens to seek assistance, make comments, or to complain. Procedures must be in place to deal with these promptly and effectively and to make certain that the right employees are involved in the response chain.
E-government initiatives place a high importance on IT that facilitates effective KM. In this study we explore the significance of leadership in utilizing technologies to manage knowledge in the delivery of electronic public services. The data, gathered at a city government, empirically supports our model that proposes the importance of various aspects of leadership in managing knowledge in an e-government environment.
We provided the results of this study via a written report and an oral presentation to the City’s key leaders. In doing so, we stressed the importance of our findings that leadership, strategic planning, and a customer and market focus are significant factors leading to knowledge management in an e-government environment. Our findings imply that robust leadership, demonstrated by effectively communicating the goals, values and expectations of e-government initiatives is needed. Strategic planning processes that formally define strategic short term (1–2 years) and longer term (3–5 years) plans are required. In addition, careful attention must be paid to investigating, evaluating and implementing e-government solutions that will meet current and future requirements of the customers, that is, the citizenry.
6.1. Practical Implications
The City has implemented a variety of e-government applications. Their initial foray into e-government entailed applications to disseminate knowledge about selected city services. Electronic knowledge directories were also made available online so that citizens that could easily determine how to contact experts in a variety of areas. Subsequently, transaction-based customer service applications were added to the e-government services available to citizens. For example, citizens can pay utility bills or court fines electronically. The City also created an interactive mapping system that maps local attractions, restaurants, and city service locations using a geographical information system (GIS).
In conclusion, this research is a valuable step in filling the void in which the relationship between leadership and KM is empirically assessed in an e-government context. Our study found that three aspects of the MBNQA leadership triad, leadership, strategic planning, and a customer/market focus, lead to effective knowledge management. While the implementation of technology helps governmental agencies in providing additional services to the public, the implementation of technology alone is insufficient. Governmental agencies are realizing that the combination of information technology and effective knowledge management practices are required to obtain superior results. As a result, many governmental organizations are placing greater emphasis on the development of knowledge management systems so that they can more effectively serve the citizenry. Our results highlight the key role that leadership plays in these efforts.