The National Academies

NCHRP 23-31 [Anticipated]

Lessons Learned from Two Decades of Knowledge Management

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Knowledge Management
Funds: $250,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Fiscal Year: 2023

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Knowledge management (KM) is rooted in the work of management thought leaders such as Peter Drucker and W.E. Deming. In 1968, Drucker identified knowledge as the central capital of the economy. By 1990, KM as a practice began to emerge simultaneously with the technology boom. Since then, KM has continued to evolve in support of business practices and the need to address complex, multidisciplinary, and multiorganization knowledge flows.

The transportation sector began to take note in the 1990s. In 1998, the Federal Highway Administration initiated a Knowledge Sharing Initiative to examine the use of communities of practice. State departments of transportation (DOTs) began to explore KM in the early 2000s. Since then, several state DOTs and U.S. DOT Administrations have implemented KM activities. NCHRP has conducted several KM research projects, and several journal articles and papers have been written addressing KM in various disciplines. Despite the number of activities and substantial body of information on the use of KM in transportation, awareness of the practice within state DOTs remains limited. Furthermore, state DOTs are losing institutional knowledge due to retirements and employee turnover. Some state DOTs are trying to quickly develop KM practices to capture this institutional knowledge, but have limited resources for the effort. Research is needed to follow up with the organizations that conducted previous KM initiatives and studies to learn about the value of the practices on their work and document lessons learned.

The objective of this research is to extract lessons learned from previous KM activities in the transportation sector by: (a) reviewing literature to identify types of work conducted, the organizations that implemented them, and subject/discipline in which KM was implemented; (b) follow up with organizations involved to learn whether the KM practice has persisted and gather lessons learned from implementation; and (c) review the feedback, summarize factors that contributed to the success or demise of the practice, extract lessons learned, and prepare case studies that illustrate common themes derived from the review. This information will help state DOT’s develop actionable strategies for deploying KM.

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