Baselines for knowledge management and organisational learning initiatives

  • Carl Jackson
Keywords: Baseline, Description, Indicators, Measurement, methods, approaches, surveys, interviews, evaluation, knowledge management, organisational learning


Baselines are essential to measuring the impact of knowledge management/organisational learning (KM/OL) initiatives, as without them change over time cannot be robustly assessed. A baseline describes and measures conditions for those intended to benefit from the intervention and of its operating context before it starts. This article advances a theoretical approach and methods for describing, measuring, and assessing change of a baseline for KM/OL initiatives within a group (team, department, organisation). It outlines how the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey approach can be adapted for the purpose of formulating and measuring proxy indicators of performance. It also suggests how key informant interviews can be used to measure baseline operating context. Steps in assessing change over baseline are described, as well as identifying additional evaluation approaches that could be used to complement these approaches when conducting impact and other evaluations of KM/OL initiatives. Inherent limitations in the KAP survey approach and risks during measurement of baselines are discussed with suggestions for mitigating actions. The article concludes that the theoretical approach and methods described can substantially address challenges in measuring the impact of KM/OL initiatives that arise because most knowledge is tacit, and its application usually occurs in private or subtle ways.


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