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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 87-95

The effect role of knowledge management on organizational innovation in University of Iran

Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Semnan, Iran

Date of Web Publication27-Feb-2015

Correspondence Address:
Reza Barari
Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Semnan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2395-2296.152220

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Aim: Knowledge in the age of information technology is considered as one of the main sources of achieving competitive advantage in a dynamic and competitive environment. The present aim of this study is conducted to investigate the role of knowledge management on organizational innovation among employees of the University of Mazandaran. Methods: The research method is descriptive and correlational type and clearly is based on structural equations modeling (SEM). Statistical population of this study is about 400 people from employees of the University of Mazandaran. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) knowledge management questionnaire which has four dimensions of exteriorization, combination, internalization, and socialization and Chopani (2012) organizational innovation questionnaire which has three dimensions of manufacturing, process and administrative questionnaires were distributed among 189 employees of University of Mazandaran. The reliability of knowledge management and organizational innovation questionnaires using Cronbach alpha coefficient is determined 0.945 and 0.944, respectively. Results: The research findings showed that all components of knowledge management and organizational innovation are mutually correlated with each other (P < 0.01). Conclusion: By implementation of SEM to test knowledge management and organizational innovation, it is determined that the proposed model has good fitness and organizational innovation truly has been explained through knowledge management and in other words, knowledge management has positive and significant effect on organizational innovation. The managers of the organization (university) should pay attention and emphasize on the cooperation with interdisciplinary teams, entrepreneurship, and spirit of cooperation and participation.

Keywords: Knowledge management, organizational innovation, University of Mazandaran

How to cite this article:
Barari R. The effect role of knowledge management on organizational innovation in University of Iran. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2015;1:87-95

How to cite this URL:
Barari R. The effect role of knowledge management on organizational innovation in University of Iran. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Oct 1];1:87-95. Available from: https://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2015/1/2/87/152220

  Introduction Top

Following technology information by managers is an important part of an organization's innovation capacity and will lead to create effective ideas. "Koc" and "Ceylan" stated that if an organization wants to be innovator or stay innovator, it should pay particular attention to several aspects that include technology strategy, ideas quality, and exploiting technology, converting ideas into new business, products, and services through understanding, synergy, and interaction between the various sciences which organizations obtain, make some items same as; technology in use, organizational learning, etc., possible. [1] In today's competitive environment, organizations need knowledge assets more. To be inimitable, rare, valuable, and irreplaceable are some of the characteristics of these assets, along with emerging trends and concepts such as knowledge management, knowledge-oriented perspective of the organization, as well as a large number of academics research and executives, all indicate increasingly importance of knowledge resources in organizations.

Review of previous researches suggests that knowledge-sharing lead to production costs reduction, faster completion of projects related to the new product development, better performance of groups, and creating innovative capabilities in organizations' performance. [2]

In the knowledge economy, the companies should adapt and update their knowledge in order to maintain their innovate ability, thus the relationship between knowledge management and organizational innovation in the research and practical fields has become an important subject. However, an organization without the benefit from appropriate ability in organizational learning will not be able to retain many important practices of knowledge management in itself. [3]

Platoi for the first time defined knowledge as real proven believe. In this definition, knowledge is something that people believe and respect which based on the organized density and meaningful information through experience, communication or inference. [2]

Conceptual knowledge is beyond the information; information is the result of organizing data in the meaning full form. However, the knowledge is resulting from the interpretation of the information by personal understanding that is influenced by the personality and character holders. Since the knowledge is based on judgment and intuition, then it covers beliefs, attitudes and behavior. In organizations, knowledge exists not only in the documents but also in experiences, processes, and routine of the organization is obvious. [4]

Knowledge in the age of information technology is considered as one of the main sources of achieving competitive advantage in a dynamic and competitive environment. [5] In order to gain a competitive advantage, organizations should seek qualified and experienced forces or train necessary skills to them, but these initiatives alone are not enough and importance of transferring experience and knowledge from experts to beginners and needy people should be considered. [6] Accordingly, it is desirable that organizations pay attention and emphasize on available knowledge-based resources. [7] Knowledge sharing is a fundamental tool in order to apply knowledge, create innovation, and its application in the organization and ultimately achieve competitive advantage. [8] Many researchers believe that knowledge management is modifying data into information and information into knowledge. [9] " Gloet" and "Terziovski" define knowledge management as formal availability of experience, knowledge and expertise that creates new capabilities, encourages innovation, and increases customer value. [10] Knowledge that exists in the minds is unlike the knowledge which encoded and documentation. [11] Managing knowledge in organizations helps to facilitate the process of knowledge and can lead to faster and more efficient integration of the knowledge which is related to customer. [12]

Knowledge management also helps to make a difference in the other knowledge integration process groups such as employees. [13] "Hey bard" defines knowledge management as the process of capturing the collective expertise of each company and distributing it to wherever it can help to produce the greatest returns. [14]

Knowledge sharing is a fundamental and applied concept and tool through which individuals help the organization to gain competitive advantage by applying and transferring knowledge effectively. [15] The basic foundation of knowledge management is based on the individuals, culture, and technology. Most researchers believe that 80% of knowledge management is related to the individuals and culture, and the other 20% depends on the technologies of knowledge management. [16]

Learning process through the development of new knowledge or insight in the organization while increasing implementation of ideas, processes or new products and creating innovative capacity in the organization cause to increase efficiency in new product development, marketing and technological synergy between new product and available benefits of firms. [17] Today, innovation in the present technological atmosphere is essential for organizations and most organizations are searching for new ideas. In this regard, the experts of organizations are trying to use knowledge to supply productions or new services that customers want and making infrastructure that innovation like learning become a continuous process because the goal of knowledge management and the modern organization's survival secret lies on innovation.

It can be said that education, like other parts, has been affected by knowledge management and for surviving in the changing conditions of today, should be able to manage knowledge effectively to companion with the changing environment and not to be far from its original purpose, which is education. In the age of knowledge and information, knowledge is the most important factor to be considered on the long-term success of individual and organization. Knowledge complex has scattered around in many areas such as libraries, documentation center, databases, knowledge bases, archives, and in the minds of people and organizations. Knowledge management to generate new knowledge and information is required for effective use of this distributed collection. [17]

Knowledge management has four dimensions that are included:

  • Externalization: A tool for the exchange of ideas and thoughts of staff and staff use of examples and simulation in the case of mental concepts and uncertain implications
  • Combination: A tool for development, entrepreneurship, creativity, new ideas etc., and make comparison skills between new concepts and experiences for staff
  • Internalization: A tool for discussing ideas and thinking about them
  • Socialization: A tool for sharing information, sharing individual knowledge, and identification of goals through examples. [18]

Today, factors such as environmental changes, technological advances, and increased competitions have caused an endless competition in organizations. However, the organizations are going to reach more success by adopting the innovation in response to environmental changes and development of new capabilities that help to achieve higher performance.

All organizations are in need of new and innovative ideas to survive. New and innovative ideas are like the spirit in the body of the organization and save it from destruction. Organizational innovation not only enables organizations to gain competitive advantage over competitors but also presents a useful tool to improve the organizational performance. Therefore, as the importance and necessity of organizational innovation are increasingly introduced in the organizational environments; the range of its applications is progressively expanded, too. [18]

Innovation as an important issue for individuals, institutions, and overall for all communities because of its association with flexibility and production is very crucial and fundamental. [19]
"Kerr and Gagliardi" believe that the most important factors in human development and growth in all areas are innovation and creativity, that's why innovation is an important factor in the survival of the organization in the current competitive environment. Innovation means a significant change, which emphasizes on improving services and organizational processes and creating new values for stakeholders of organizations and focuses on achieving new dimensions. The innovation term is in conjunction with the rapid and useful changes in ideas, processes and services. Many believe that what is fundamentally different is innovation. The goal of innovation is positive change that improves an individual or something else, but in the context of the organization, innovation is related to organization's growth and performance by improving efficiency, productivity, and quality. For example, all organizations, hospitals, universities, and even local governments can have innovation. [20] In todays' challenging and changing environment, organizations which have not innovation usefully and effectively and do not adjust themselves with the environmental conditions, will be destroyed. Innovation occurs when someone uses an invention or an idea so that can change the workplace, organizing people or leading their lives. [21]

Innovation is essential for survival and long-term growth of the organization and will play a more vital role in the future of organizations which are looking for rapidly evolving markets. [22] If a company wants to increase its innovation capacity, it is essential to have a high level of creativity. [23] Creativity is the ability to create ideas, theories, insights or new objects and restructuring in human science and other fields which is recognized as innovative phenomenon by the experts, and is regarded as precious in scientific, esthetic, technological, and social terms. [24]

Innovation is to make an idea or thought practical. There is a long way from creativity to innovation and for a new idea to become a new product or service also a lot of time and efforts are needed. Sometimes, new ideas and thoughts come to ones' mind and in the following years it will appear as innovation in the products or services by another person. Since the evaluation of factors affecting on innovation and creativity is an impartible principle among educational administrators in any dynamic system, so it should be an essential part of any management system. [25]

Previous studies have argued that different types of innovation are required to understand and recognize organizations. Among the different types of innovation in related literature, three types have attracted the most attention; that each of them have focused on a batch of innovation types: Technical and administrative, process and product, and gradual and radical. [3]

Some of the most important principles of the innovation are as follow:

  • All ideas are elegant and smart, so it deserves to provide an environment in which all ideas can flourish and grow
  • The idea innovator needs help for promoting and flourishing his ideas. In other words, his ideas must be supported by a patron
  • For the survival of the organization, new innovative products are essential
  • Idea Innovators are the key to growth. [26]

Innovation in the organizations is classified into three different categories:

Productive innovation

It refers to the extent to which the organization presents new and improved services and tries to develop new services in the form of training individuals and teams in the organization.

Process innovation

It is a tool to make changes in the presenting and utilizing the services. In fact, process innovation means the extent to which the organization applies new technologies and tests the new methods. [27]

Administrative innovation

It refers to the procedures, policies, and new organizational forms. Administrative innovation is a tool for a better management of the organization so that it searches new management systems and uses these new administrative systems.

It is clear that the performance of knowledge management especially distribution of knowledge is effective on innovation and financial success of the organization. [28] "Mullen" and "Layls" argue that continuous organizational learning will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the innovations. [29]
"Storey" and "Kelly" [30] and "Wu et al." [31] argue that the acquisition of new knowledge and integrating the existing knowledge with the new one will lead to the innovation in new products. "Parlby" and "Taylor" [32] believe that knowledge management can be a support for innovation, creating new ideas and exploiting the organization's power of thought.

Experts of knowledge management believe that innovation mechanisms and knowledge management processes are conformable. [33] The results of Najm showed that there is a relationship between knowledge management and organizational innovation. [26] Researches of Kohestani show that there is direct and close relationship between knowledge management and organizational innovation, and these two categories are concomitant with each other, whatever knowledge management works better, innovation is created more. [34] In addition, "Droch," "Davenport and Prusak" argued that knowledge management will affect innovation and in khodae study was found that there is a significant relationship between organizational knowledge and innovation. [3],[35]

In a study of Mir Fakhr Oddini et al., was found that knowledge management, knowledge innovation has an effect on innovation performance and in another study, it was concluded that there is a relationship between knowledge management and innovation. [36],[37]

Ali suggests that tacit knowledge plays an important role in the process of creativity and innovation and success in the organization. [38] Conclusion in another study showed that knowledge of market and customer plays a mediator role in a relationship between market orientation and product innovation performance. [39] Findings Abdari and Ghorbani showed that knowledge management and organizational learning are related with organizational innovation. [3] Furthermore, in the study of Safarzadeh, et al. was found that personalization of knowledge and codifying knowledge have a direct impact on innovation and organizational performance. [40] In another study, it was found that there is significant and positive relationship between transfer of knowledge and knowledge request and storage of knowledge with technical innovation. [41]

However, many authors consider knowledge management as one of the factors affecting on organizational innovation and believe that only organizations will be able to achieve organizational innovation that could institutionalize knowledge management in organization, the thing that is also discussed and investigated in this study. Given the importance of knowledge management in different organizations especially in higher education, need to conduct research in this area has been felt in the University of Mazandaran. Therefore, in this context, to achieve optimal performance and promote innovation in this university and given that the innovation is a factor to grow and improve the efficient performance, effectiveness, and quality and enable employees to draw more innovative and clear vision, we have tried to measure the effect of knowledge management on organizational innovation in this study. According to the above-presented definitions and previous studies, researchers provide the following conceptual model to investigate the effect of knowledge management on organizational innovation as follows [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Conceptual model of externalization

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Accordingly, in this study, the following questions are answered:

  • What is knowledge management status in the University of Mazandaran?
  • What is organizational innovation status in the University of Mazandaran?
  • Whether components of knowledge management have the ability to predict organizational innovation?
  • Whether knowledge management has direct, positive, and significant effect on organizational innovation?

  Methods Top

This study is considered among applied research based on its purpose, because the research results are applicable for all organizations and research and educational systems particularly universities and it is also descriptive-survey based on how to obtain the required data. Relationships of variables are analyzed based on objective in correlational type.

The population of this research is all employees of the University of Mazandaran that totally are 400 employees. Sampling in this study was available and has been done based on Morgan table that the sample size according to the population is 189 people and of these, 180 questionnaires were returned.

The main measurement tools to gather data in this study include two questionnaires:

  • Nonaka knowledge management questionnaire that consisted of 26 items and has four dimensions of externalization, combination, internalization, and socialization that measure knowledge management based on 5-points Likert scale
  • Organizational innovation questionnaire which has three dimensions of manufacturing, process, and administrative and has 17 items and is a combination of questionnaire of "Jimenez" "Penya" and "Prajgo and Sohel" that measure organizational innovation based on 5-points Likert scale. [18]

In this study, the reliability of tools through alpha Cronbach for knowledge management and organizational innovation questionnaires is obtained 0.945 and 0.944, respectively, that these numbers indicate that questionnaires have acceptable reliability. To assess the validity of the questionnaires in this study, content validity and construct validity were considered that management specialists and construct validity determined content validity was conducted using confirmatory factor analysis. Data were analyzed using  Spss Version 20 IBm company and Lisrel Version 8.5 Scientific Software International. software.

  Results Top

Factor analysis is used to evaluate the validity of scales and confirmatory factor analysis calculate model goodness of fit with the data. [42],[43] In fact through confirmatory factor analysis, we investigate this issue whether items related to a variable confirm measuring capability of that variable and its dimensions or not. To ensure the suitability of sample size of data to use factor analysis the adequacy test of the Kaiser, Meyer, and Oklein (KMO) was performed. KMO test value for knowledge management variable was 0.945 and for organizational innovation was 0.915 and this indicates the adequacy of the sample size and entered variables to perform factor analysis.

Confirmatory factor analysis results for knowledge management and organizational innovation showed that the factor loading of all items of the given tool is above 0.3 and is in a good state. The fitness indices resulted from the implementation of confirmatory factor analysis of knowledge management and organizational innovation after modifying the model demonstrate the proper validity of the tool. Fitness indices of measuring model for these two variables are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Confirmatory factor analysis results of knowledge management and organizational innovation

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of knowledge management on organizational innovation of personnel in the University of Mazandaran. For this purpose, the relationships between the constituent components of knowledge management and organizational innovation using Pearson correlation and stepwise multiple regression analysis will be reported and then the results from implementing structural equations modeling are reported. As shown in [Table 2], all observed variables are correlated with each other.
Table 2: Mean, SD, correlation between components of knowledge management and organizational innovation

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As was reported, all present correlations are significant (P < 0.01) and this means that all variables are mutually related to each other. In order to investigate the first and second research questions one-sample t-test. In order to investigate the first research question that is "what is knowledge management status in University of Mazandaran?", state of that variable and its dimensions are tested. One-sample t-test results are presented in [Table 3].
Table 3: One-sample t-test results to evaluate the state of knowledge management with hypothetical mean 3

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As can be seen in above table, the mean score of knowledge management is 3.2778 that this value is higher than hypothetical mean (3) and due to the significance level (<0.01) can be deduced that the mean of knowledge management in University of Mazandaran is higher than average and externalization dimension is in better condition among knowledge management dimensions.

In order to answer the second research question, that is "what is organizational innovation status in the University of Mazandaran?" one-sample t-test was used that its results are presented in [Table 4].
Table 4: One-sample t-test results to evaluate the status of organizational innovation with hypothetical mean 3

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As can be seen in [Table 4], the mean score of organizational innovation is 2.6950 and this value is smaller than hypothetical mean (3) and due to the significance level (<0.01) can be deduced that the mean of organizational innovation is lower than average and process innovation has a weaker state among the dimensions of organizational innovation.

In order to answer the third research question that is "whether components of knowledge management have the ability to predict organizational innovation?" and determine the proportion of each dimensions of knowledge management (externalization, combination, internalization, and socialization) in predicting organizational innovation of University of Mazandaran stepwise regression is used and the results are presented in [Table 5].
Table 5: Stepwise regression results of the impact of knowledge management on the organizational innovation

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Based on the results of [Table 5], it can be concluded that from four dimensions of knowledge management, two dimensions of combination and socialization were entered into the regression equation as predictor variables, in the first step combination dimension entered into the equation and the amount of correlation coefficient is equal to 0.543, this means that combination dimension can explain 29.5% of the variance in organizational innovation and in the second step by adding socialization dimension, the amount of multiple correlation increase to 0.567 and this means two above dimensions overall explain 32.2% of the variance in organizational innovation in University of Mazandaran. Similarly, it can be said that the proportion of combination and socialization dimensions in predicting organizational innovation based on the regression coefficients are 0.345 and 0.256 respectively.

In order to investigate the main research question, "whether knowledge management has direct and positive and significant effect on organizational innovation?" was used structural equation modeling and path analysis. Criterion to confirm or refuse the hypothesis is a significant number and by considering that significant number of the effect of knowledge management on organizational innovation is obtained 8.34, and this value is larger than 1.96. The main research hypothesis is confirmed, and this means that by increasing knowledge management, the level of organizational innovation of personnel of the University of Mazandaran increases. Standardized path coefficients, a significant number and general indicators of goodness of fit test for the present research model is shown in [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Testing the pattern of relationship between knowledge management and organizational innovation (Path coefficients and their T significance index are in parenthesis). As can be seen, general indices of goodness of fit test in the structural equation modeling indicate the overall fit of the proposed model. Thus, our data truly confirm general proposed pattern, and the overall structure of tested relationships is confirmed through obtained data

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  Conclusion Top

Studying and investigating the concepts, characteristics, and factors affecting on organizational innovation shows that innovation in organizations has an important role among managers and directors, employees, researchers, and experts of different sciences with the development of technology, more complex organizations, and organizational competition. Meanwhile, what helps the organizations in order to achieve their objectives in the today's changing era is investigating and identifying the factors affecting innovation creating. In this context, knowledge management has been identified as one of the requirements and factors affecting organizational innovation according to the finding of this research knowledge management cause to increase organizational innovation in the University of Mazandaran.

As the research results showed that there is significant relationship between the components of knowledge management with components of organizational innovation, this means that employees will use innovative approaches, if they have an incentive to exchange ideas and encourage them to use the web and network, know their new ideas valuable and discuss about these ideas and thoughts and present their required information transparently.

According to [Table 3], the other research results showed that mean score of knowledge management of personnel in University of Mazandaran is higher than average which this indicates that the status of knowledge management among the personnel in University of Mazandaran is almost good and these results are consistent with the findings of Kebria and Nazar. [44]

Also based on the other research findings, mean score of organizational innovation of personnel in the University of Mazandaran is lower than average, and this shows the inattention to organizational innovation in the universities. Perhaps the reason is attributed to the lack of exploitation of new ideas because there is no flexible competitive structure and a condition for rapid learning from environment and utilization tacit knowledge in the universities. The findings are roughly consistent with the findings of Walker in the Hong Kong government agencies that found the characteristics and features of these organizations are not suitable for organizational innovation.

Results of stepwise regression analysis for predicting organizational from knowledge management components showed that the combination and socialization among other dimensions of knowledge management are considered as predictor components of organizational innovation. In fact, the managers of the organization (university) should pay attention and emphasize on the cooperation with interdisciplinary teams, entrepreneurship and spirit of cooperation and participation.

Structural equation modeling and path analysis findings about the effect of knowledge management on organizational innovation showed that this relationship is quite significant and knowledge management has direct, significant, and positive effect on organizational innovation that is in line with the findings of the "Xu and Li" and "Vaccaro et al." and Taleghani et al. [45],[46],[47] Innovation is an important and the key factor for organizations to create value and sustainable competitive advantage. [48] Nevertheless, this process is quite complex and requires effective and efficient management in many different activities. [49] Knowledge is not an important resource for the organization itself. Knowledge is not for knowledge; however, Knowledge is important for practice and improves performance. [50] Therefore, organizations should create a climate in which emphasize on the clear exchange of knowledge and innovation so that employees are more willing to exchange their new knowledge with each other and its application.

Regarding the fact that the aim of any applied research is to give operational and practical solutions to the studied population, based on the findings of this research, the following practical recommendations are given to the managers and administrators of University of Mazandaran in order to improve knowledge management and organizational innovation process in this university: Given to the results of [Table 3], it is recommended that the managers of university should pay attention more to creativity and new ideas and encourage personnel to share their professional knowledge for improving knowledge level. It is necessary from independent research teams to transfer knowledge in the university.

Given that the mean of organizational innovation in University of Mazandaran is lower than average, it is recommended that: Modern managerial systems (e.g., employment system and new evaluation systems) along with new searching technology be applied, and new technologies be used sooner than other universities. The staff should always be taught to become more innovative so that they are enabled to do their duty through the new methods. Financial resources be provided for the staff to perform new researches and projects. It is also always necessary to make some changes in the process of presenting different services. Due to the effect of combination and socialization parameter in predicting the organizational innovation among the staff of University of Mazandaran, it is recommended that the university organizes the necessary information to make the right and appropriate decisions and the staff do the appropriate actions to share the knowledge that is considered as their organizational mission.

Since the research findings showed that knowledge management has a significant effect on the organizational innovation in the University of Mazandaran, it is suggested that managers identify the important, critical, and standard rules and store them well.

They should discuss about the ideas with staff in various meetings, organize those ideas, and present the necessary information clearly. Furthermore, they should use inter-organizational networks for sharing information, present a coherent and brief written summary about experiences and learned topics and record the achieved results officially in the organization so that they always can play a significant role in the advent of organizational innovation.

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