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Journal of Information & Knowledge Management

Vol. 15, No. 2 (2016) 1650017 (23 pages)
.c World Scientic Publishing Co.
DOI: 10.1142/S0219649216500179

Linking Knowledge Creation

and Environmental Education

Giovana Escrivo* and Marcelo Seido Nagano

Department of Industrial Engineering
ao Carlos
School of Engineering of S~
ao Paulo, Brazil
University of S~
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Published 6 May 2016

Abstract. Although the importance of knowledge management, little is known concerning the creation
process of new knowledge. This process can be applied into several contexts in order to create new
knowledge and use it better; one is environmental education (EE), which regards the increasing envi-
ronmental degradation. This paper analyses the knowledge creation (KC) process in EE programmes
conducted by two of the largest and most prestigious universities in Brazil. This research is qualitative
with a descriptive characteristic and was conducted through case studies. The data collection and analysis
methods were qualitative, including interviews and content analysis. The main contribution of this paper
concerns suggestions to improve the environmental programmes at universities, providing green practices
around the campuses with more ecient and systematic knowledge production and dissemination related
to the topic. Additionally, some evidences of the case studied motivated the authors to ask some questions
about the KC theory of Nonaka.

Keywords: Knowledge management; knowledge creation; environmental education.

1. Introduction
Knowledge management (KM) has increasingly gained the attention of practitioners
and academics in the recent years (Chua, 2003; Metaxiotis and Psarras, 2003).
Several studies evaluate the eectiveness and impact of KM on innovation (Spaeth
et al., 2010). Notwithstanding, some KM processes, especially the process of creating
new knowledge, have not yet been fully explored (Nonaka, 1994; Nonaka and
Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka and Toyama, 2003; Chou and He, 2004; Lifshitz-Assaf,
2014; Maier and Schmidt, 2014). In order to create and make better use of this
resource, organisational Knowledge Creation (KC) has been increasing taking in-
terest in these areas over the last 20 years (Nonaka et al., 2006; Nonaka and Von
Krogh, 2009).
As a result of a recent global problem environmental degradation envi-
ronmental education (EE) has also become a growing issue in academic, political,
business and educational debates. However, EE has been criticised for using

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pedagogical practices that are disconnected from reality, determined in an author-

itarian manner from top to bottom and for neglecting the management of infor-
mation and knowledge, which are key elements for developing a sustainable model
(Albagli, 1995; Jacobi, 2003; Albuquerque et al., 2011).
Given that the KC process has not been fully explored; that KC has little ap-
plication in non-business areas, such as EE; that there is currently much concern
about environmental issues; and also the importance of including KM in the sus-
tainable development model, this study proposal was elaborated. The main focus is
to study the process of KM, more precisely the creation of new knowledge, on EE
In the current scenario, educational organisations, at all levels, have an important
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role as a tool to promote values related to sustainable development. Educational

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organisations are the entities, which can play this role moving towards a more sus-
tainable society. Universities could be considered \small cities" and should be re-
sponsible for environmental improvements of their stakeholders. Consequently,
universities are increasing their environmental programmes, disseminating environ-
mental knowledge and green practices around the campuses. This process can be
considered a signicant challenge to universities. In addition, there is a relative lack of
research in the literature that focusses on analysing and sharing best practices and
practical guidelines to improve environmentally friendly KC and diusion in
green programmes conducted by universities (Bradley et al., 1999; Tikka et al., 2000;
Jucker, 2002; Calder and Clugston, 2003; Cortese, 2003; Elton, 2003; Lozano, 2003;
Lozano, 2006; Stephens et al., 2008; Stephens and Graham, 2010; Ferrer-Balas et al.,
2010; Lozano, 2010; Wass et al., 2010; Karatzoglou, 2013; Lozano et al., 2013; Osman
et al., 2014).
This paper is organised as follows. Section 2 describes the KC theory adopted.
Section 3 shows the connection between KM and KC with EE. Section 4 introduces
the role of this study object, universities, in EE. Section 5 describes the research
methods. And the last section shows the results: a brief abstract of the main points of
the comparative case under study; green practices suggestions that include KM and
the creation of new environmental knowledge for EE; and certain gaps of the KC
theory (that should be conrmed by additional studies) identied through the
interviews and the observation of the case under study.

2. Nonaka's Knowledge Creation Theory

In the literature on KM, Nonaka's knowledge creation theory (KCT) is currently
one of the most consolidated and important outcomes of KM, which has assumed
an increasingly legitimate and important role in organisation science. His work has
been widely accepted and used in many research areas such as organisational
learning, new product development, information technology and management
in general (Argote et al., 2003; Gourlay, 2006; Nonaka and Von Krogh, 2009; Vick
et al., 2013, 2015).

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Linking KC and EE

Nonaka's model includes not only KC but also knowledge transfer, which is
essential to EE programmes. Therefore, within the perspective of this research,
which is to explore KC, we decided to focus on Nonaka's approach, as the pillar on
which the conceptual arguments related to organisational KC process are based.
Organisational KC is the process of making available and expanding organisa-
tional knowledge created by workers and connecting it to an organisation's knowl-
edge system in order to innovate (Nonaka and Von Krogh, 2009).
Analysing how Japanese companies innovate, Nonaka (1994) found that these
organisations not only explore the existing knowledge, but also have the ability to
create new knowledge. He then created a model to highlight how innovative
Japanese companies create new knowledge (Berraies et al., 2014).
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This theory is based on two types of knowledge as reported by Polanyi (1983),

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this theory is already consolidated and used to support several theories. The explicit
one is a type of formal and systematic knowledge which can be easily registered,
communicated and shared; and the tacit one is informal knowledge, related to in-
dividual perception and the ability to express, and consequently dicult to
be transmitted (Nonaka, 1991; Nonaka et al., 2000; Von Krogh et al., 2001;
Gourlay, 2006).
Organisational knowledge needs to be created, thereby preventing knowledge
from being kept within the individual scope. It is the individual who creates it, rather
than the organisation, but if that information is not transmitted to the organisation,
keeping it only at the individual level, it will certainly be lost (Nonaka and Takeuchi,
1995). Then, organisational knowledge, teamwork, inter-disciplinary teams and
individuals from dierent backgrounds that can contribute with their dierent
previous experiences are important factors to promote knowledge to the organisa-
tional level (Rus and Lindvall, 2002).
In order to create organisational knowledge, tacit and explicit knowledge need to
be converted through four processes (socialisation, externalisation, combination and
internalisation, named SECI) (Nonaka, 1991, 1994; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).
Socialisation is the process of sharing knowledge and experiences and implies team
work; externalisation is the process of making knowledge understandable to transmit
individual knowledge to other people through dialogue, analogy and metaphor;
combination systematises dierent types of knowledge to form new knowledge; and
internalisation is the process of acquiring knowledge by learning through practice
(Nonaka, 1991, 1994; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka et al., 2000). Figure 1
illustrates the SECI.
The organisation must provide an appropriate context that provides and facil-
itates KC, a shared dynamic and interactive context that transcends time, space and
organisational limits, in order to create new knowledge. This context is called Ba. It
can either be physical, virtual, or mental (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka and
Konno, 1998; Nonaka and Nishigushi, 2001).
The organisation should provide the necessary conditions so that the in-
dividual, in a group, can create organisational knowledge, using ve conditions.

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Source: Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995).

Fig. 1. SECI.

Organisational intention should be used to promote the vision, goals and objectives
of the organisation. Autonomy to members of the organisation brings unexpected
opportunities and encourages self-motivation to create knowledge. Fluctuation and
creative chaos motivate interaction between the organisation and the outside envi-
ronment, improving its knowledge system. Redundancy of information goes beyond
immediate operational demands from the organisation members, increasing infor-
mation to be processed. And a variety of requisites from organisation members
provide dierent perspectives about the same idea or problem (Nonaka and
Takeuchi, 1995).
KC involves ve phases. The rst phase is the sharing of tacit knowledge through
interaction. The second phase is the creation of concepts through dialogue and
collective thinking. The justication of concepts, as ltering, is the third phase. The
development of prototypes in order to convert concept in something tangible is the
fourth phase. And the continuous update is the last one (Nonaka and Takeuchi,
1995; Von Krogh et al., 2001).
Knowledge transfer does not occur spontaneously, but there is a managerial
model and a hierarchical structure that facilitate the creation of new knowledge.
The middle-up-down managerial model places the intermediate level manager at the
centre of KM and redenes the role of top management and front line sta.
Therefore, managers at an intermediate level solve the contradiction between what
top management expects to create and what is possible vision of top sta. The
structure is self-organised and not hierarchically working together with a formal
hierarchical structure (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).

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Linking KC and EE

In the same way, there is a structure that facilitates the creation and transmission of
knowledge. This structure is a hypertext structure, a non-hierarchical but self-organised
structure that works in parallel with the formal hierarchical one, which is formed in levels
through which its members can change the context (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).
According to the KCT, all these factors are essential to innovate; they can
stimulate or impede the creation of new knowledge.

3. Linking Knowledge and Environmental Education

There is much research that supports the relationship between knowledge and
behaviour (Bradley et al., 1999; Chan and Lau, 2000; Laroche et al., 2001; Osman
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et al., 2014) and it has been found that the disposition of higher levels of information
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and knowledge can inuence environmental attitudes (Bradley et al., 1999; Tikka
et al., 2000; Osman et al., 2014).
EE is social learning based on dialogue and interaction, a process of recreating
and reinterpreting information, concepts and meanings. It involves information,
concepts, meanings, social learning, dialogue, interaction, recreation and reinter-
preting information (Jacobi, 2003). This denition shows that information and
knowledge are essential to EE.
Information, knowledge and EE represent key-elements in the sustainable de-
velopment model (Albagli, 1995; Ginkel, 1998), thus they are correlated. It is from
information, knowledge and environmental perception that people change their
behaviour and attitude (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Hungerford and Volk, 1990;
Kuhlemeier et al., 1999; Pooley and O'connor, 2000). Information and knowledge
promote sensitisation and identication of environmental problems (Rodrigues and
Colesanti, 2008).
According to Burgess et al. (1998), environmental knowledge is the input that
should be processed (managed) in order to achieve the output, which regards pro-
environmental behaviour. His model shows the connection between knowledge and
pro-environmental behaviour.
In addition to the authors who highlight the relation between knowledge and EE,
other authors suggest other important factors for EE. Analysed in parallel with
KCT, we see that some of these factors are presented by Nonaka in his model as
conditions to create new knowledge.
For the learning process, the experiences people undergo exert more inuence on
people's behaviour than the experiences transmitted from one person to other person
(Kollmuss and Agyeman, 2002; Cunha and Oliveira, 2009). In other words, tacit
knowledge, know-how and socialisation process are more ecient than simple in-
formation transfer on the behaviour of individuals.
Some authors suggest an environment where ideas can emerge to create new
environmental knowledge through teamwork and change of knowledge, know-how
and dierent ways of thinking (Cunha and Oliveira, 2009). This suggested envi-
ronment by some authors is similar to Ba as suggested by Nonaka and Takeuchi.

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Table 1. Relationship of EE and KCT.

Knowledge management EE

Requirement of KC Aspect to be worked on Author


Resource worked on by EE Environmental knowledge Jacobi (2003); Layrargues (2000);

KC process Burgess et al. (1998)
Socialisation Social learning Jacobi (2003); Perinotto and
Dialogue Zaine (2000); Cunha and
Interaction Oliveira (2009)
Sharing experiences
Exchanging ideas and ways of thinking
Personal experience
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Externalisation Social learning Jacobi (2003); Perinotto and

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Dialogue Zaine (2000); Cunha and

Interaction Oliveira (2009)
Exchanging ideas and ways of thinking
Personal experience
Exchange of information
Exchange of knowledge
Exchange of dierent ways of
Group experience
Combination Exchange of information Cunha and Oliveira (2009)
Internalisation Social learning Jacobi (2003); Perinotto and
Dialogue Zaine (2000); Cunha and
Interaction Oliveira (2009)
Exchange of dierent ways of
Group experience
Exchange of actions
Conditions Multidisciplinary teams Perinotto Zaine 2000
Ba Space for new knowledge Cunha and Oliveira (2009)
Second phase of KC KC and Knowledge production Jacobi (2003); Reigota (1994)
process and concepts
Recreating and reinterpreting
Fifth phase of KC Access to information Layrargues (2000)
process Spreading knowledge
Spreading knowledge Access to information Layrargues (2000)
Spreading knowledge
Final objective of KC KC and knowledge production Jacobi (2003); Reigota (1994)
process and concepts
Recreating and reinterpreting

Furthermore, some authors suggested teamwork, interdisciplinary team, dia-

logue, change of ideas and practice (Perinotto and Zaine, 2000), which are some of
the conditions of the KCT.
The research developed by Layrargues (2000) shows that environmental resis-
tance from the population's lowest social classes can be explained, among other

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Linking KC and EE

reasons, by not having much access to information. The lack of information and
knowledge devalues environmental issues and leads to their resistance or indier-
ence. Furthermore, the research on environmental knowledge and attitudes
conducted by Bradley et al. (1999) found that students with higher levels of envi-
ronmental knowledge had greater pro-environmental attitudes.
However, despite the fact that several authors highlight the important of EE
regarding information and KM, few authors discuss it (Jacobi, 2003; Damerell et al.,
2013; Rakotomamonjy et al., 2014).
The arguments presented by dierent authors show the importance of knowledge
on EE, highlighting the relevance and need for work in this area. The relationship
between the two subjects is shown in Table 1.
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4. Environmental Education in Universities

Higher education institutions are the ultimate knowledge organisations, they have
two main roles: creating knowledge and disseminating knowledge (Metaxiotis and
Psarras, 2003; Jones et al., 2009). They are major agents of social change (Elton,
2003; Lozano, 2010) and have been at the forefront in educating the future decision-
makers, entrepreneurs, new generations of citizens and leaders (Cortese, 2003; Elton,
2003; Lozano, 2006; Stephens and Graham, 2010; Lorenzo, 2013). Universities have
the potential to develop a new culture that is consistent with sustainable develop-
ment. Simultaneously, they generate large amounts of waste, considerably aecting
the environment, as a result of the high number of employees, professor and stu-
dents. Notwithstanding, the literature has not yet given much attention to the
impact caused by universities, focussing instead on the causes of environmental
damages generated by industries and companies (Toakley, 2004; Stephens et al.,
2008; Evangelinos et al., 2009; Ferrer-Balas et al., 2009; Lukman et al., 2009; Sibbel,
2009; Albuquerque et al., 2011; Zska et al., 2013). So, higher education institutions
are potentially interesting places to discuss environmental issues and encourage
society to face sustainability challenges (Kraemer, 2004; Stephens et al., 2008;
Evangelinos, 2009; Ferrer-Balas et al., 2009; Lukman et al., 2009; Sibbel, 2009).
\Work developed within higher education institutions has a multiplier eect, as each
student, convinced of good ideas concerning sustainability, persuades society on a
wide variety of areas" (Kraemer, 2004, p. 3). Thus, they have been consistently
considered signicant contributors to work towards sustainability initiatives
(Stephens et al., 2008; Karatzoglou, 2013).
Over the last 20 years, the number of higher education institutions that have
engaged in incorporating sustainable development into their operations has in-
creased (Cortese, 2003; Calder and Clugston, 2003; Lozano, 2003, 2010; Wass et al.,
2010). Despite the increasing environmental initiatives in universities, most higher
education institutions have not yet incorporate pro-environmental attitudes and
practices and are still lagging behind companies in sustainable development (Elton,
2003; Lozano et al., 2013). Therefore, some authors have argued that higher

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education has largely \failed" in terms of sustainability (Jucker, 2002; Ferrer-Balas

et al., 2010) and address the needs for changes in universities in terms of sustain-
ability (Ferrer-Balas et al., 2010; Stephens and Graham, 2010). KM can contribute
to these programmes by providing EE with a more ecient and systematic pro-
duction and dissemination of new knowledge related to the topic.
Accordingly, the objects of this study are two of the largest and most prestigious
universities in Brazil: the University of So Paulo (USP) and So Paulo State
University (UNESP).

5. Research Method
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As the goal is to study a process that has not yet been clearly dened in the liter-
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ature, striving to understand how KC processes take place in EE programmes, this is

a qualitative study. Given the in-depth and detailed research scope, a case study was
used as a strategy to achieve the objective. A new and upcoming subject was ana-
lysed, namely KM in green management initiatives conducted by universities, which
to the best of our knowledge has not received much attention in the literature.
The comparative case study focusses on the reality of two well-known universities
in Brazil, an emerging country that has recently been in the international spotlight.
The main focus of this study was: the USP Recycling Programme at the University
of So Paulo (USP) and the UNESP Recycling Programme at the So Paulo State
University (UNESP), the two largest EE programmes at these two highly prestigious
Brazilian universities. The two selected universities are renowned institutions in
Brazil and Latin America. Their education and research programmes have con-
tributed to Brazil's progress in the eld of Science and Technology.
According to the 2014 BRICs ranking a classication that compares uni-
versities from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa USP is the 7th best
university among the BRICs and UNESP holds the 30th position (Times Higher
Education, 2014).
USP is the largest Brazilian public university, the most important in the country
and is classied alongside the most prestigious universities of the world in several
rankings. The Webometrics Ranking of the World Universities classied USP in 29th
place among 11,997 universities (Webometrics, 2014) and in 127th place among
more than 700 universities in the entire world by World University Rankings
(QS Universities Rankings, 2013). Both World University Rankings and Webo-
metrics Ranking of the World Universities classied USP as the best university of
Latin America (QS Universities Rankings, 2013; Webometrics, 2014).
UNESP was classied in 329th place among 11,997 universities by Webometrics
Ranking of the World Universities (Webometrics, 2014) and ranked 491 among more
than 700 universities by World University Rankings (QS Universities Rankings,
2013). Both World University Rankings and Webometrics Ranking of the World
Universities classied UNESP as 11th best university of Latin America (QS Uni-
versities Rankings, 2013; Webometrics, 2014).

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Linking KC and EE

The EE programme at USP was created in 1993. One of its main objectives is to
bring environmental awareness to the university community regarding environ-
mental problems, encouraging people to take responsibility for environmental
conservation. This endeavour is achieved by projects that incentives the use of
durable mugs, reuse scrap paper and selective waste collection, e.g. developed at all
USP campuses. These initiatives aim to: motivate the USP community to adopt
environmentally appropriate values, attitudes and behaviours, especially reducing
waste; collaborate with sta training concerning suitable socio-environmental
practices; promote the shared and integrated waste management consolidation
process at USP, which makes it exemplary in best practices for society; support and
foster the promotion of socio-environmental initiatives that promote research, study,
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extension and management aspects.

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The EE programme at UNESP began in 2007 and the following are currently in
place: separating waste; waste collection (paper collection in all departments); sta
training every semester; lectures for faculty members, employees and students.
Before analysing the two cases, a pilot study in the EE programme at the Federal
University of So Carlos (UFSCar) was conducted in order to rene and improve the
data collection of the survey (interview questions). The UFSCar is the 44th on the
2014 BRICs ranking (Times Higher Education, 2014).
In order to guarantee the content and technical validity of the data collect toll the
interview protocol and the questions were evaluated by experts of KM (researchers,
professors and professionals) and experts of qualitative research (researchers and
professors). In order to guarantee the empirical validity a pilot was performed and
provides the improvement of the data collect tool, creating the third version of it.
The relationship between the research objectives, the research variables and the
questions of the interview can be see Appendix A.
The specic in-depth goal-oriented interview is considered the most fundamental
qualitative method to obtain data. Thus, oral questions were asked for selected
members of each programme in order to obtain information straight from the source
(Collis and Hussey, 2009).
The data collection began in 2010 with the interviews and since then has been
updated through observation of the activities of the environmental programmes. The
interviews were conducted with the most active members of each programme, con-
sidered key-informants of the study object (Yin, 2003), which continued until no new
facts were reported, indicating there were no more contents to discuss. The decision
about which people to interview was based on a previous talk with the coordinators
of each programme, when the contact information was requested from those who
were most involved with each programme. Moreover, people from all categories
(lecturer, sta member and student) were chosen.
The programmes are composed of employees, professor and student of each
university. The UNESP programme was composed of one professor responsible for
coordinating the administrative activities, one professor responsible for the activities
and projects and two students, one of them a permanent member of the programme

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who received a scholarship for this activity and another one who joined the pro-
gramme the month before. At UNESP the two professors and the student who
participated constantly in the activities and projects were interviewed. The USP
programme was composed of three employees, one formally responsible for the
programme and two others responsible for coordinating the projects and activities
and also four students. At USP the three employees and three students involved
with the daily activities, and who receive a scholarship for this, were interviewed.
Other students participate just occasionally and do not have a strict connection with
the programme. A total of eleven respondents were interviewed, from the pilot case
to the case under study.
The interviews were conducted in person and orally using a recorder, amplifying
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the recording of the communication elements. Each interview took between 40 min
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and 1 h and 20 min, until no new facts were reported, indicating there were no more
contents to discuss. The transcripts of the interviews were performed by the re-
searcher and submitted to the participants in order to improve reliability,
thereby making sure the answers and its independence from outside inuences were
Data analysis was carried out according to qualitative research methodology
based on thematic content analysis procedures as described by Bardin (2009).

Table 2. Research variables.

Theory Variables Secondary variables

Process of KC SECI process Socialisation

Key-characteristics Transformation of individual knowledge into
organisational knowledge
Figurative language and symbolism
Ambiguity and redundancy
Conditions Organisational intent
Creative chaos and uctuation
Variety of requirements
Phases to create new knowledge Sharing
Concept creation
Concept justication
Archetype construction
Interactive diusion
Appropriated context Physical Ba
Virtual Ba
Managerial model Middle-up-down
Hierarchical structure Hypertext hierarchical structure
Knowledge dissemination Knowledge dissemination through the organisation

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Linking KC and EE

The content analysis was divided into pre-analysis, data exploration and processing
the results, inference and interpretation:
(1) During the pre-analysis was performed an exhaustive contact with the material
in order to be familiarised with the content. The material was organised aiming
to answer some norms: exhaustive (all the aspects of the protocol were
exhausted), representative (aimed to ensure the representation reliably of each
aspect of the study), homogeneity (keeping precision of the variables, categories
and theory) and pertinence (appropriately to the content). Then, it was deter-
mined the categories and the codes in order to classify the data were determined
based on the variables of the study and on the identication of the theoretical
concepts that guided all the steps of the analyses.
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(2) During the exploration of the material, the text was systematically analysed
according to the categories created in the previous step.
(3) And then some trends and patterns (like counts, similarities, exclusions) were
identied and grouping it in order to facilitate the information deduction and
compare with the characteristics under study providing the inference and in-
terpretation of the data related to the theory and variables.
According to the literature review and to the objective of the research, the
variables studied in the two case studies are represented in Table 2.

6. Results
Before submitting the results, a brief summary of the main points of the comparative
analysis of the cases is presented in Table 3, showing the behaviour of some variables
in the case studies in contrast to the theory.
In addition to the comparative analysis of the EE programmes, two types of
results were found: as for the practical implications, some green practices were
suggested to the EE programmes in order to better manage environmental
knowledge and to create new knowledge; as for the theoretical implications, from the
comparison between theory and observation of the programmes, some facts observed
bring forth questions about some of the concepts regarding the theory of KC.

6.1. Suggestions of green practices based on knowledge creation

for environmental programs
To summarise, by studying the cases and comparing the programmes to the theory
we were able to come up with some best practices for environmental programmes in
order to generate and create environmental knowledge. See Table 4.
It is possible to build KC by altering and improving activities carried out by these

6.2. Suggestions of gaps to discuss the knowledge creation theory

After having analysed the literature review and conducted the case study, some
issues faced by the organisations studied contradicted the theory. Consequently,

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Table 3. Main points of the KC process on EEP.

Variable Results USP UNESP

G. Escriv~

SECI The socialisation process is partially seen in the two \Internally the experience is \With members of the programme it is every week

programmes, which frequently perform meetings and exchange between me, the [meetings and interaction] This [new ideas]
events to create interaction. However, the educator, and the programme's appears even more than for who is inside [internal
socialisation process occurs mainly and frequently scholarship trainees, quite members of the programme], those who are
among the internal members of the intensely. We usually have working:Very little from the external ones [users]"
programme; socialising with the users of the weekly meetings, we have (Respondent 1, UNESP Recycle). \Look, I believe
programme occurs only through specic actions gastro-philosophic meetings, a that every time you sit down and hold discussions
ao and M. S. Nagano

during the year. The internalisation process should part is food and the rest is to this will generate the creation of new knowledge. . .
be better exploited by both programmes, which discuss a topic. The students sometimes we sit to talk briey, but still I believe

perform only specic activities. Each lecture or bring many new ideas to the that we are creating something new, by discussing
subject discussed should have knowledge content programme As for the ideas, that generate new knowledge:But I think it
related to that internalised activity through practical socialisation among members could be improved:Study schedules should be set
workshops. According to the respondents of the and users, it is not systematic, it up, so we can go further into this knowledge for the
UNESP Recycle, this does not take place due to the happens according to the needs" discussions 00 (Respondent 2, UNESP Recycle).

lack of money, time and resistance by some user (Respondent 1, USP Recycle).

Key features for The transformation of individual knowledge into \It depends. Planning is done in a \They are usually conducted in groups. Very few are
the creation of organisational knowledge through group work is group, report writing is done individual. Sometimes, to 'come up' with a structure
knowledge stronger in the UNESP Recycle, where all individually and then there are of the project, then it's done individually, you
activities are conducted in groups; and partially in group discussions: The activities perform a literature search, read related material and
USP Recycle, where part of the activities are are performed only by the see what has been done and what can be improved to
ISSN: 0219-6492

carried out individually. members, but the return occurs not fall into the same error done by a project that has
in groups" (Respondent 1, USP already been carried out. This I think is done
Recycle). individually, but the other activities we want to add,
\Between us, as each person there is greater participation, greater knowledge
is responsible for the project, dissemination" (Respondent 2, UNESP Recycle).
each one works individually in \Most of the time they are made [activities] in a
his project" (Respondent 3, group. To collect the material, when transmitting
USP Recycle). the data, we get together to prepare a report, all
members go, especially the day there is a lecture,
everyone speaks a little" (Respondent 3, UNESP
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Table 3. (Continued )

Variable Results USP UNESP


The managerial In Recycle UNESP, decisions are taken together, the \Decisions are mainly taken by the \Decisions are always taken together we hold
model and the relationships are personal, communication is committees that decide the discussions. Including with the environmental
hierarchical informal and tasks are exible, thus its overall direction and the actions management sta, those working on their
structure management model and its structure reaches the that each is responsible for" master's or doctorate in that environmental area.
hypertext structure and middle-up-down (Respondent 1, USP Recycle). We discuss all the ideas to reach a consensus. The
management model. In USP Recycle, because \It's well described [the roles]. It teacher really respects our ideas, it shows that she
decisions are taken by the teacher of the is well dened as we receive that is not there to give the nal statement, she's there

programme and the tasks are more rigid, with less scholarship, intended for that to guide us the best decision" (Respondent 3,
exibility for changes, it moves away a little from project" (Respondent 4, USP UNESP Recycle).
the hypertext structure and the middle-up-down Recycle). \Informal [communication, relations and
managerial model. work]" (Respondent 1).
\They are personal [work relations]"

(Respondent 2). \There's not set schedule. That's

good on the one hand, because everyone does a

little of everything. But sometimes this is not
great, because, for example, during the exams
week the programme is somewhat \abandoned",
we end up spending two or three weeks without
going" (Respondent 1, UNESP Recycle).
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Knowledge Knowledge is very well disseminated when it comes \It is basically internal. I think it's \I weigh the material, we transfer that info to the
dissemination to the internal members of the programme. As for the biggest defect we have. We spreadsheets, and we compare the current situation
related to the users, this is not always the case. have a hard time disclosing the year to year. Why is so much still being spent?
environmental post-activity results to the Can it be reduced? We transfer all of that to the
awareness community" (Respondent 1, excel spreadsheet and when we present lectures,
USP Recycle). symposiums, when there is any such event, we take
all this data but this kind of dissemination
happens just rarely and between the members it's
frequently" (Respondent 3, UNESP Recycle).
Linking KC and EE
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Table 4. Suggestions to the EE programmes introduce a KC culture.

Variable Suggestion
G. Escriv~

SECI . Hold frequent meetings and cultural programmes outside the workplace that promote dialogue, group discussion, and exchange of

ideas, information and knowledge between members and users, hence producing greater interaction and informal conversation. These
events create interaction, where members chat informally, enabling experience and knowledge exchange, where new ideas emerge.
. Explore the use of gures, gurative language, metaphors, symbols, images, ow charts, graphs, lms, songs, models and examples
during the activities, so that members can share their tacit knowledge with users, making it a collective undertaking.
. Explore the use of databases, writing reports, the combination and storage of knowledge, artefacts, and experiences in books,
brochures, and articles by combining the existing organisational knowledge with new knowledge, systematising concepts in
ao and M. S. Nagano

knowledge systems, in which new concepts are formed by teams.

. Organise workshops with groups focus on doing practical activities regarding the information presented in lectures and discussed at

meetings in order to internalise the knowledge related to socialisation, externalisation and the combination of processes
Key-characteristics . Prioritise group activities instead of individual ones, exchanging experiences necessary for the creation of new knowledge.
. Promote the use of gurative language, metaphor, symbolism and examples in order to transmit knowledge and ideas to others.
. Provide more than one way of doing the activities and encourage a given activity more than once by members and users, increasing

the volume of information to be processed.

Conditions . Endeavour and action in order to create a culture that encourages people to look for and create new knowledge, stimulate research,

approximation and interaction.
. Provide autonomy to the members in decision-making and receptivity of user ideas and participation.
. Not oer solutions to users, provide them with tools and support so they can nd and solve problems by themselves.
. Instead of homogeneous groups, explore the heterogeneity (a characteristic of the universities' environment) when carrying out
activities, which brings dierent area knowledge and diverse experiences, promoting situational confrontation due to the inter-
disciplinary and holistic vision of the problems.
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Phases to create new . Create concepts related to each idea, activity or project of the programme through dialogue and collective reection (like a
knowledge brainstorming); lter them; construct a model or archetype in order to test it or turn it into something tangible; and disseminate the
new knowledge continually through all the programmes, member and users.
Appropriated context . Set up a physical space that allows programme members to interact with one another and with users; and also a virtual interactive
space, providing a dynamic interaction context, a location for knowledge-related conversion to take place.
Managerial model and . Prioritise informal communication, impersonal relations and a more exible hierarchical structure, with frequent alterations of the
hierarchical structure groups, functions and activities.
Knowledge . Constantly dissemination of information and knowledge between the members and the users of the programme.
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Linking KC and EE

eight gaps about the KCT were identied and which should be further detailed in
future studies. They are:
. Legitimacy and power of the organisation regarding stakeholders. First, with re-
spect to socialisation, one of the KC processes involving experience sharing
through activities (e.g. lectures, observations, face-to-face interactions and
brainstorming), analysing the cases under consideration showed that these EE
programmes do not have enough legitimacy and power to persuade users (e.g.
university undergraduates, faculty and other employees and neighbouring
state schools) to change their views and attitudes. This is quite dierent from
what happens in the business environment studied by Nonaka, who states that
large corporations have enough power and legitimacy to summon or convince its
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customers and suppliers. In addition, socialisation may be hampered in the case

of the programmes studied; while it occurs with some frequency internally, it is
very weak externally. Consequently, socialisation is not always as easy as sug-
gested by KC theories; it depends on the nature of the organisation and its power
and legitimacy over its members and stakeholders (i.e. users, customers and
. Align organisational goals with those of the suppliers. Similarly, the nature of the
organisation (programme) has a weak inuence on the alignment of its goals with
those of customers and suppliers (users). Although in the context studied by
Nonaka, i.e. large corporations, a cooperation environment is already present and
business interests are conducive to aligning goals between the parties, this cannot
be generalised for all environments. Furthermore, the reward and performance
measures that exist in corporations foster teamwork, socialisation, and the crea-
tion of new knowledge. This occurs in the programmes under investigation and it
is possible that it does not in other types of organisation;
. The complexity of analogy. Analogy is seen as clear-cut; as if it were trouble-free.
However, in order to make use of analogies one has to possess intellectual so-
phistication. More often than not, workers have technical and specialised knowl-
edge, but not the kind of intellectual, general knowledge required by analogy;
. Redundancy and culture of the organisation. Redundancy is not simple to im-
plement either. It is closely linked to organisational culture. In the contexts under
consideration, where the culture of innovation prevails, it is simple to insert
redundancy in practices and activities of the organisation. However, in traditional
organisations or mass-production organisations, for instance, culture can often be
a barrier to attempts to include redundancy;
. Commitment, stability, and turnover of members of the organization. As regards
stability and turnover in the programmes under study, faculty and sta are very
stable but there is a very high turnover of students, which results in a low com-
mitment to the programme, KC, and to the desired goals, contrasting with the
corporate environment studied by Nonaka, in which commitment is strong be-
cause of the members' desire for work/job stability, which is not guaranteed.

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ao and M. S. Nagano
G. Escriv~

Therefore, it seems that the lack of commitment in other organisations, such as

public organisations, is very likely to be related to job stability;
. Business and long-term vision versus short-term and operational vision. While the
companies cited in the literature operate with long-term goals, in which products
are devised for new business niches based on strategies, programmes such as the
ones under investigation and possibly other organisations (e.g. small businesses)
need to work with short-term and operational goals;
. The space and environment in which the organisation operates. Space as a creative
context, as cited by Nonaka, is something that already exists and can be easily
inserted in a challenging and competitive corporate environment as that studied
by him, unlike many other types of organisation in other environments, which may
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lack resources and accountability for that to happen;

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. The source of informality. The theory presents informality as a feature of the

model and organisational structure, which are requirements for the creation of new
knowledge. It should be noted that informality, along with other factors, is not
always conducive to KC; it depends on its source. In large companies, informality
is the result of a horizontal organisational structure, with many experts, where
there is exibility for them to act thereby generating the interaction and exchange
of knowledge and experience necessary to create new knowledge. However, in EE
programmes, as well as in smaller organisations, informality stems from their size
and simpler structure and are, thus, not related to the organisation members'
exibility and interactions.
All these considerations show that the requirements presented as necessary for KC,
quite often do not apply to all types of organisation. The dierent natures of the
various types of organisations should be considered. The KM theory has been
adopted by the academic environment and companies as a model to create new
knowledge, but the ndings show that it is generally limited to the conjectures of the
theory as a good management practice for all kind of organisations; the conjectures
of the theory are specic to the organisations studied by the authors (big companies
with innovative culture and inserted in the oriental culture). Considering the dif-
ferent environments, context and nature of the organisations, the conjectures cannot
be applied to some types of organisations.
Additional research is needed to investigate the occurrence of these assumptions
in other types of organisations and further investigations need to be conducted in
small businesses, third-sector organisations, in other segments of the public sector,
and even in universities, in order to detail the conclusions reached in this study.

7. Conclusion
The data analysis of the cases studied enabled two main results the proposal of
practices that promote the management and creation of new knowledge to EE
programmes. These programmes have much to improve in their eectiveness by

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Linking KC and EE

implementing conceptual requirements, which have already been disclosed by the

theory of KC, and in this work translated into environmental reality.
Also, the identication of some gaps in the theory of KC has led to understanding
that not all of its conjectures work for any or all organisations. The cases studied
demonstrated that due to organisational specicities, some requirements may not
favour the management and creation of new knowledge, thus such requirements
should be relativised in how they are applied. Therefore, the theory of KC needs to
consider contingency aspects, which are important to the validity of its concepts.
As already mentioned, this research was carried out under a qualitative per-
spective, as the goal was to explore an unknown process, striving to understand how
it works. Future studies using a quantitative approach can positively complement
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this research, while testing the results obtained in a considerable number of EE

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programmes in higher education institutions, comparing the processes and com-

bining the suggestions proposed here.
Furthermore, the research is a springboard for discussions concerning the theory
of KC, which in future studies can be investigated, addressed and detailed in-depth
with each observation.

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May 13, 2016

Appendix A. Interview Protocol

G. Escriv~

Main objective: Analyse the KC process, based on Nonaka's theory, in EE programmes

Specic objectives Research questions Research Secondary variables Interview questions


1. Describe the fac- 1. How the process of KC KC SECI process (socialisation, exter- 1. Do the members of the programme exchange informa-
ao and M. S. Nagano

tors that promote takes place on environ- nalisation, combination and inter- tion, knowledge, know-how and new ideas among
the creation of mental programmes? nalisation) them? What about with the users of the programme?

new knowledge Which are the benets Transformation of individual How does it happen? Reminder: experience exchange,
according to provided by the process knowledge into organisational dialogues, groups discussion, observation, lectures,
Nonaka's theory of KC for these pro- knowledge training, meeting, etc.
on the EE pro- grammes? Key-characteristics: gurative lan- 2. On the programme's activities (training, meeting,
grammes studied 2. The process of KC could guage and symbolism, dialogues lectures and events), how is transmitted the knowledge

2. Analyse the simi- be better explored, cre- and groups discussions, ambiguity that is dicult to express through word? Reminder: use
larities and dif- ating more benets for and redundancy of graphics, movies, images, etc.

ferences between the EE programmes? Conditions: organisational intent, 3. Does the programme disseminates and formalises its
the theory and 3. Is there a conceptual autonomy, creative chaos, redun- knowledge? Through which practices the programme
the programme's model that describes the dancy and requirement variety does it? Reminder: e-mail, documents, data base,
practices specicities of the KC on Phases: sharing, concept creation, books, scientic studies, websites, newspapers, man-
the EE programmes? concept justication, archetype uals, etc.
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construction and interactive 4. Does the programme uses the practice \learning by
diusion doing" to disseminate the documented knowledge for
Appropriated context: physical the users? Reminder: teach the activities through the
and virtual Ba practices (build a composter, build some object from
Managerial model: middle-up-down recycled materials, etc.
Hierarchical structure: hypertext 5. Are the activities realised in groups or individually?
Knowledge dissemination Reminder: homogeneous or multidisciplinary groups,
students from same classes or dierent classes, etc.
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Appendix A. (Continued )

Main objective: Analyse the KC process, based on Nonaka's theory, in EE programmes

Specic objectives Research questions Research Secondary variables Interview questions



6. The programme oers, for the students, more than one

possibility on how to do each activity?
Reminder: doing the same activity on dierent ways,
chance to participate in one activity more than once, etc.
7. Does the programme acts dierent according to the
dierences of classes and students?

Reminder: according to dierent educational levels,

cultural changes and environmental conscious
8. Does the programme disseminate just known
knowledge or knowledge developed by the own
programme too?

9. When a new idea is suggested, is it directly applied or is

tested/experienced before applied?

10. Is there a physical space in order to promote the
interaction between member and between members and
users of the programme? Is there a virtual space in
order to promote the interaction between member and
between members and users of the programme?
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11. Who take decision in the programme? How is the

communication process? Reminder: vertically,
horizontally, all directions, formal, informal, etc.
12. How was the labour division? Are the tasks are xed or
does it change according to dierent situations?
Reminder: based on rules or personal commitment,
personal or no personal relations
13. Does the programme verify the results obtained? Is this
disseminated? How?
Linking KC and EE
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ao and M. S. Nagano
G. Escriv~

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