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Research Methodology

Overview of the Study

EHRC recognizes that there is a need within the electricity sector for better knowledge management and transfer in order to manage and mitigate the risks that demographic shifts will impose upon the sector and in support of corporate best practices. Organizations need to use knowledge management (KM) and knowledge transfer (KT) throughout their business in order to improve operating efficiencies, identify future business opportunities, and improve overall decision-making. It is clear that not all organizations within the sector can afford to develop an integrated and systemic approach to KM/KT, nor do all organizations need to follow the same KM/KT approach. The approaches to KM/KT are as diverse as each organization that employs them, and the problems that they face. As such, it is important that organizations in the sector have access to tools and approaches and the experience of others that can be adapted to their unique organizational culture, workforce risks and business strategy.

To support this requirement, EHRC undertook a review of KM/KT literature in order to develop a best practice inventory and toolkit to help support the Canadian electricity sector in: remaining competitive; ensuring effective adherence to regulatory and health and safety requirements; and better managing their workforce risks and challenges.

This report is designed to provide organizations in the electricity sector – be they large or small, advanced in the implementation of KM/KT practices or just getting started, with:

  • An understanding of KM and KT.
  • The rationale/business case for investing in KM/KT.
  • An overview of some of the advantages and challenges of implementing KM/KT.
  • Provide access to a toolkit which would include an overview of:
    • Methods and approaches to KM/KT;
    • Tools to support the development and implementation of approaches to KM/KT; and
    • Selected best practices in the fields of KM/KT.
  • A more detailed overview of different KM and KT models to help those who are interested in a more detailed overview of the theoretical underpinnings of KM/KT which may help in selecting which KM/KT model best suits their organization.

The expected outcome of this project is to enhance the assessment, implementation and effective use of KM/ KT practices within the sector. Specifically:

  • To support the process of building sector awareness and know-how on the importance of KM/KT to business operations, business strategy, competitive advantage and HR management. This will be achieved through the production of this report and the accompanying KM/KT Toolkit.
  • To produce tangible and practical KM/KT tools, tips and suggestions to assist organizations within the electricity sector in implementing KM/KT within their own business context, strategy and culture. This will be achieved through the production and dissemination of the KM/KT Toolkit and Best Practices.

An overview of the research methodology employed in the development of this Report is provided in Appendix B.

The primary source of research for this report was an extensive literature review and key stakeholder consultations. Initial consultations were also undertaken with the five recognized knowledge experts in the area of KM/KT who lent their expertise and insight to ensure the research team was on the right track and in identifying emerging thinking and best practices in the area of KM/KT, particularly within the sector itself.

In terms of the literature review, the first focus of the research team was to narrow the scope of analysis. There are innumerable KM/KT research, literature and websites available – with some research/reports being better than others. In order to limit the focus of the review to something that was practical, the Steering Committee approved a extremely comprehensive search of KM/KT articles, research, reports, presentation decks, and videos related to KM/KT based on a combination of linked criteria including the industry sector, primary business drivers, and the regulatory environment.

It was expected that this approach would drive the research team towards more current, relevant and compelling stories, best practices, experts, and evidence related to best practices in the areas of KM/KT, particularly as it relates to heavily regulated resource/energy based industries. In the end, the research was culled down from over 300 books, research, articles, presentations, journals, etc. to a list of over 100 items which were reviewed to support the drafting of this report.

Following this detailed review and the drafting of the report and the KM/KT Toolkit; further consultations were undertaken with representatives from the sector as follows:

  • Sector survey to determine extensiveness of KM/KT implementation within the sector;
    • Follow up with organizations who completed the survey to discuss in more detail their organization’s approach to KM/KT;
  • Four best practice reviews of organizations recognized to be leading in various areas of KM/KT; and
  • Further stakeholder consultations including a Webinar with leading industry practitioners to review the draft KM/KT Toolkit and provide feedback on ways to make it more user-friendly and practical to a variety of users.

The literature review and these consultations helped to inform the development of this report, as well as the ESC KM/KT Toolkit and a KM/KT background documents which is expected to provide both background and foundational information to those who are just learning about KM/KT. The tools and resources provided in this Toolkit were not developed as part of this project, but rather have been culled from best practices and tools found and/or provided through the literature review and consultations. These tools and resources are appropriately cited and referenced.