An Initial Standardized Knowledge Management Framework, Formed from Learning During a Humanitarian Crisis




knowledge management, social organizations, humanitarian crisis


The paper presents some aspects of knowledge management theory. This underpins a research methodology designed to expose knowledge transfer in voluntary not-for-profit groups. The paper aims are to make  recommendations which, supported by a knowledge management strategy and good practices, provide the basis for the development of a future model of knowledge management in crisis situations. A hypothesis has been established: During emergencies that arise suddenly, a variety of information and knowledge is dispersed, widely disseminated, and belongs to many different organizations. A coherent information system is needed for the dissemination and sharing of knowledge for effective assistance to people affected by the crisis. The main challenge in managing knowledge in such humanitarian emergencies, is the fact that a wide variety of information and knowledge is dispersed, disseminated, and originally belongs to many different organizations. These information resources may not be organized and used effectively during a crisis situation.  Over time, preliminary and non-standardized rules are developed. The authors of this paper took part in a  humanitarian action - both independently and in cooperation with non-governmental organizations. This allowed for the collection of extensive research material. During the research, the methodology of participatory observation and surveys was used. The aim of the study was to develop knowledge management standards, for use in the event of other humanitarian crises. The final research technique used is given, from participant selection to outcome analysis. It was found that processes of organizational learning and active knowledge management occurred in many forms. Knowledge was transferred in and out of the organizations. Expertise from earlier experiences was applied, and transferred, becoming explicit. Managerial skills and methods were applied in new organizational contexts. Many similarities and some differences were found, despite clear differences in the type of organisations and country of origin. The research allowed the authors to research extensively into people’s motivations, priorities, and forms of information transfer. Knowledge acquisition, transfer and sharing were clearly identifiable, as was organizational learning and subsequent usage of it. Future implementation of standardized, coherent knowledge management rules, used in crisis situations will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and its reuse. The framework can also be applied to other situations of emergency decision making, such as crisis management and emergency medical assistance.