Knowledge management practices in construction non-profit volunteer organisations (CONVOs):: a Canadian Habitat For Humanity perspective

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University of New Brunswick


The majority of previous knowledge management (KM) research in the construction industry have focused on aspects affecting those in the for-profit sector. Similar to for-profit construction firms, construction non-profit volunteer organizations (CONVOs) provide constructed products and/or services (e.g. construction management). However, CONVOs typically exhibit inefficient processes and practices influenced by temporal labour (mostly semi and unskilled) which jeopardise the execution of their organizational KM goals. This research therefore explores KM practices (KMPs) in CONVOs on account of these challenges. The author examines the impact on KMPs maturity as a result of adopting a combination of KM tools (i.e. information technology (IT) tools and non-IT techniques). Action research principles guide research methods to conduct a thirty-three year literature content analysis on the state of KM research in the construction industry and identify the critical success factors for KM. A framework is developed and piloted to guide the investigation of KMPs in 65 Canadian Habitat for Humanity (HFH) affiliates. Through self-administered online questionnaire surveys and semi-structured interviews we discover (i) perceptions of KM; (ii) usage and effectiveness of KM tools; and (iii) current KMP maturity. Generally, results show a preference for IT tools such as databases, PCs, laptops, internet, and emails, while non-IT techniques such as face-to-face meetings, workshops, reports, and seminars were favourable. In addition, there is a strong correlation amongst KMPs knowledge areas of process, environment, and technology. Two HFH affiliates collaborated to determine the impact of adopting KM tools on their KMPs maturity. Pre and post analysis of adopting both IT and non-IT KM tools indicated improved KMPs maturity in certain knowledge areas. Finally, an informed ‘how-to’ guide has been developed to assist Canadian HFH affiliates with the development and implementation of KM initiatives.