***ARCHIVE SITE *** Knowledge Management for Development Journal, Vol 1, No 2 (2005)

A know-who directory for the CGIAR: what do users think?

Mark Winslow

Abstract


The CGIAR’s agricultural research-for-development agenda is broad and complex, but the geographical and institutional dispersion of staff and partners constrains knowledge-sharing. The internet could help them find relevant experts and contact them to share knowledge. To test this idea, a web-based know-who directory system was tried by 214 staff and partners during April-June 2002. Participants were asked to fill in online profiles describing their interests, expertise, contact details and photograph. When asked their impressions through a followup questionnaire, 73% of 170 respondents said that a know-who directory was important for the CGIAR; 25% said it was useful but not important; and 2% said it was not necessary. When asked about any reluctance to share knowledge, 39% indicated no reluctance. Out of the remaining 61%, half identified a fear of time lost responding to requests for help; 37% saw no rewards/incentives for sharing; 9% said they would be unsure of other’s expertise based merely on a web profile; and 4% feared losing their competitive advantage by giving away their knowledge. Few expressed concerns about security and privacy. The results suggest that a CGIAR know-who directory would succeed if encouraged by top management, treated as a priority, articulated effectively to reassure staff about their concerns, and supported through modest incentives.

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