University of Tasmania
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Knowledge management in the shipping industry : the effects of human mobility on the organisational knowledge base and effective knowledge transfer practices : a perspective from China

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posted on 2023-05-26, 02:55 authored by Fei, J
The severe shortage of skilled and qualified personnel in the shipping industry has been addressed in various ways. This thesis looks into the issue from a new perspective where high mobility in the shipping industry is seen as a vehicle of knowledge flows that can be used for knowledge transfer. The rationality of this approach is that knowledge has been considered the most important asset that an organisation can possibly use as a leverage to gain competitive advantage, and the fact that knowledge management practices have been successfully applied into industries such as the pharmaceutical, oil and gas industries where skill shortages have been a major obstacle for development. It is argued that while an organisation cannot stop personnel leaving, it is possible, by utilising effective knowledge management practices, to retain part of the knowledge held by such personnel. As there is a dearth of research on knowledge management in the shipping industry, the objective of this thesis is to explore the appropriate application of knowledge management practices to the industry. This is achieved by (i) identifying the components of an organisational knowledge base (OKB); (ii) examining the effects of human mobility on the OKB; and (iii) investigating management practices for effective knowledge transfer in the shipping industry. A conceptual framework is established to address these three research questions. In order to empirically validate the research models, a sample of Chinese shipping companies (ship owners, manning companies, ship managers) was selected for a mail survey. The mail survey generated a 60 per cent response rate in which 166 valid questionnaires were returned. A wide range of statistical techniques such as reliability, t-test, ANOVA, Pearson‚ÄövÑvºs correlation, factor analysis (PCA), and multiple regression, was employed to analyse the data collected from the mail survey. The study made a number of findings. First, an OKB consists of fourteen knowledge components with four dimensions, and the perceived importance of these components vary according to business sectors, fleet sizes, and respondents‚ÄövÑvº total work experience. Secondly, all personnel movements except those of ratings are considered critical to the OKB. Such perceived effects can be predicted by two of the three factors regarding current workforce stability (total preferred workforce, total stability and optimism). Finally, effective knowledge transfer practices are comprised of fourteen elements from three main management domains, that is, culture, leadership, and technology. A multiple regression analysis finds that current management practices (a four-factor solution) do not explain perceived effective knowledge transfer practices. It is found, however, that some elements are affected by the establishment of a knowledge management department or the designation of a chief knowledge officer, and that there are correlations between information communication technology related practices and the current/preferred means of communication. It is suggested that through the identification of the composition of an OKB, an organisation should provide a supportive culture, strong leadership, and relevant resources to manage its knowledge asset through effective knowledge transfer, given the impacts that high human mobility has on the OKB


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