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Knowledge Management in Software Development

Last Thursday, I successfully defended my PhD thesis [1]. My PhD studies were supervised by Peter Axel Nielsen and took part in the Research Centre for Socio-Interactive Design of the Computer Science Department of Aalborg University. The committee members that assessed my thesis were Keld Bødker, John Krogstie and Jan Stage. The defence itself consisted of a presentation of my research for 45 minutes, followed by almost two hours of examination.

As a part of the EU-founded FP7 project KiWi – Knowledge in a Wiki, my research deals with the design of a knowledge management system for a software development company, whose analysis showed a number of knowledge management problems, grouped to four problems regarding isolated islands of knowledge and three problems regarding the inadequate bridging of knowledge.

The analysis led to a distinction of two organizational layers within the case company: Management and development. Each of these layers follows a different knowledge management strategy. The management layer follows a codified strategy and the development layer a personalization strategy.

In my thesis, I propose four design ideas, regarding the distinction of the organizational layers, their connection and supporting systems for each. All four design ideas form the foundation for a prototype of a large knowledge management system, composed of three sub-systems: The KiWi Platform, a Data Exchange Agent and a Project Management Application.

This thesis presents a design study, with an analysis of a case company, the design of a knowledge management prototype, and its evaluation through the case company. I followed the action design research methodology, organized in iterations and focused not only on the IT artefact, but also its environment within the case company.

This research contributes to different aspects of the knowledge management theory, elaborating on the codification and personalization knowledge management strategy by presenting how to adapt more than one strategy in an organization. Further, he connects the knowledge management strategies to the knowledge bases and shows how specific knowledge bases have advantages in the different strategies.

[1] Karsten Jahn. »Knowledge Management in Software Development«, PhD Thesis, Department of Computer Science, Aalborg University, ISSN 1601-0590, 2012. Link

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