Volume 16, Issue 5 (10-2019)                   ioh 2019, 16(5): 1-13 | Back to browse issues page

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Kiantaj R, Ramezani A, Amrolahi N. Knowledge Management as an Agent of Enhancing the Safety Culture in Organizations. ioh. 2019; 16 (5) :1-13
URL: http://ioh.iums.ac.ir/article-1-2529-en.html
Karaj Azad university , rkeyani2022@gmail.com
Abstract:   (1454 Views)
Background and aims: Today, the safety culture in the High-Reliability Organizations (HRO) across various industries of a country is described as a long-term competitive advantage that can be considered as a factor in preventing costly events for organizations and countries. Therefore, promoting safety culture in such organizations can be weighed up as one of the main concerns of the organization and government managers and regulatory agencies. So how can industry managers, regulatory agencies and government officials help the organizations improve their safety culture? According to the results of this paper, the established processes of knowledge management system after sufficient time can enhance the organizationchr('39')s safety culture and help managers in this way. In this paper, we examine the relationship between the knowledge management system and the safety culture variables among Iranchr('39')s nuclear reactors staff.
According to the majority of safety culture scholars, Scheinchr('39')s organizational culture model (1992) has been used to address the safety culture in this research. Schein defines organizational culture: "A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems." Guldenmound (2000) declares: "In the way, Schein conceives and defines (organizational) culture, there is no need for a specific definition for safety culture. Basic assumptions permeate throughout the organization, including its aspect of safety." So safety culture can be treated as one aspect of the entire organizational culture. What comes from Scheinchr('39')s definition of organizational culture is that any cultural constructions and cultural activities in an organization or industry have to deal with collective learning. As a consequence, any efforts to enhance the safety culture of an organization should lead to positive learning experiences and cross the organizational learning membrane. Subsequently, these positive experiences gradually will penetrate to the organizational learning membrane and mix with the basic assumptions of organization members at this time new cultural assumptions will emerge.
The authors believe that knowledge management systems in organizations can be used as the most effective tools for acquiring new knowledge and facilitating their learning. So that organizations via knowledge management systems can acquire knowledge and the culture of knowledge (according to practice-based perspective to knowledge) to develop their culture or promote their safety culture. For this reason, the implemented knowledge management system in an organization can be seen as a factor in promoting the concept of safety culture in that organization. Consequently, it is expected that a positive correlation is observed between these two variables over a relatively long term period. In this research, the knowledge management system has been considered in an exogenous construct and a reflective model about its core processes and safety culture variable. The reason behind this model is that the concept of knowledge management can exist as a pure entity in the organization because according to the perception of authors from the concept of practice-based perspective to knowledge the epistemology of knowledge management is related to organizational learning not to some processes in the organizations. This notion of knowledge management is opposed to the objective perspective and calls for a deeper understanding of learning and knowledge in organizations.
Method: The research data were collected from employees in Iran nuclear reactors located in Tehran, Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr cities using a paper questionnaire. In these facilities, responses were acquired from 98 respondents, representing the tow functional sectors of the organization: 1- safety-related sections like HSE and radiation protection sectors 2- other operating sections like engineering, technical support, and sectors that are engaged in core operation of the organization. The respondents were categorized as follows: 30 (30 percent) were technicians; 56 (56 percent) were experts; 12 (12 percent) were supervisors; With regards to gender all respondents were (100 percent) male.
Knowledge management processes were measured by inquiring the respondents to reply to a set of items on a scale from 1 to 7 (1 completely disagree, 7 completely agree). These 25 Items were drawn from the Organisational Renewal Capability Inventory survey (Kianto, 2008).  Kianto (2016) states that: “In sum, the literature typically identifies four to six knowledge management processes that are cyclically interrelated. Similar to these views, this paper proposes that KM processes can be divided into five main types: knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, knowledge creation, knowledge codification, and knowledge retention. Although these types are, to some extent, interrelated and overlapping, and are cyclically interrelated, they are individually distinguishable because of their different foci.” The scale for knowledge acquisition tested the significance and fluency of knowledge acquired from extra-organizational sources, while the scale for knowledge sharing pointed horizontal knowledge flows inside the organization. Knowledge retention addressed the constancy and conservation of knowledge inside the organization. Items for knowledge creation addressed the periodicity and the foundation of new idea development in various groups of activities. Items for knowledge codification looked at the amount of documentation and storage and the scope of knowledge repositories.
To measure the construct of safety culture, respondents were asked to answer questions similar to the one on the previous scale from 1 to 7 (1= strongly disagree and 7= strongly agree). These questions were drawn from the IAEAchr('39')s 2017 Safety Culture Perception Questionnaire for License Holders (IAEA SCPQ-LH, 2017). The IAEA Safety Culture Perception Questionnaire for License Holders (SCPQ-LH) is one of five data collection methods used by the International Atomic Energy Organization to perform safety culture assessments. The questionnaire has been developed by an international group of experts with skillfulness in organizations safety culture, nuclear safety issues and questionnaire development, chaired by Dr. Mark Fleming, St Mary’s University, Canada.
The data were analyzed with structural equation modeling (SEM), directed using the partial least squares (PLS) package (version 3 of SmartPLS). The first step was to assess the validity and reliability of the measurement model. Subsequently to test the hypotheses and examine connections between the study variables the structural model was used. In addition to testing the research model, the authors wanted to assess the relationship between knowledge management processes and safety cultures in more detail so the research model was tested for three groups of employees: 1- whole sample data 2- safety-related employees (like HSE or radiation protection sections employees, N=46) 3- operator related employees (like engineering and technical support or various operator groups sections, N=52).
Results: According to this research findings, knowledge management processes accounted for nearly 57 percent of variance for whole employees. Therefore, establishing knowledge management processes in a high-reliability organization like nuclear reactor operators is significantly linked with safety culture. Interestingly, severity of this relationship differs as a function of job characteristics and the type or content of knowledge that is to be found in the scope of the knowledge management system for that group of employees because knowledge management processes explained a larger amount of the variance of safety culture (62 percent) for safety-related employees and a smaller amount for other operator employees (53 percent). For this reason, phrases like Nuclear Knowledge Management (NKM) or safety-related knowledge management which is used in the International Atomic Energy Organization or other national or international institutions is justified and acceptable. In addition to this, organizations can enhance the safety culture by using design for their knowledge management system and emphasizing the development and dissemination of safety knowledge in the organization. This type of knowledge management system may be referred to as a strategic knowledge management system for safety.
The consistency of the results obtained from the reflective model for knowledge management and failure to obtain reliable and meaningful results for the model in which the knowledge management construct was applied endogenously in the formative model with its indicators can be seen as evidence of the validity of the reflective model used in this study. It should be noted, indicators in the reflective models are manifestations of the constructs whereas indicators are defining characteristics of the constructs in the formative models. And from item relationships with construct antecedents and consequences point of view, indicators are required to have the same antecedents and consequences in a reflective model. Conversely, indicators in the formative models have not the same antecedents and consequences. It points out, this variable should be considered as a deep and independent concept in the organization that relates to deeper concepts such as organizational learning and organizational culture and must be evaluated with an impact on organizational learning.
Conclusion: To summarize, the real learning in organizations is a subject that occurs in deep organizational layers (according to Shinechr('39')s organizational culture model) and the actual results of knowledge management systems should be sought in influencing these layers and points issue can lead to a more comprehensive definition of the concept of knowledge management in organizations with regard to its impact on organizational learning and other contextual issues such as organizational culture. This capability of the knowledge management system makes it as an agent in improving issues such as safety culture in the industries of countries.
It should be noted that the results of this study cannot be directly used as a degree to evaluate safety culture in these facilities. The lack of women in this study was one of the constraints of this study that could be covered in future surveys with access to more employees.
Full-Text [PDF 633 kb]   (176 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Assessment of Management Systems and Systematic Audits
Received: 2018/08/6 | Accepted: 2019/02/17 | Published: 2019/10/13

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