The processes of knowledge management in professional services firms in the construction industry: A critical assessment of both theory and practice

Sik Wah Fong, Sonia K.Y. Choi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - Quantity surveying firms are characterized by their professional identity and knowledge-driven nature; knowledge is crucial to their success in the competitive and dynamic business environment. As knowledge management is still in its infancy in the construction industry and structured knowledge management processes have not yet been adequately deployed in the surveying discipline, this research seeks to focus on the implicit knowledge management processes being undertaken in professional quantity surveying firms in Hong Kong. Design/methodology/approach - A framework of knowledge processes was developed from a detailed literature review in an attempt to enhance the knowledge flow in Hong Kong professional quantity surveying firms. The applicability and validity of the framework were verified by quantitative research methods. Based on the proposed process model, a questionnaire survey was then conducted to study the opinions of professional quantity surveyors on the details of these processes; the questionnaire was returned with a response rate of 42.6 percent out of 260. Findings - From the findings of the questionnaire survey, the research confirms the six knowledge management processes in quantity surveying firms, namely acquisition, creation, storage, distribution, use, and maintaining. There is a general lack of specifically assigned staff for knowledge acquisition from external sources, knowledge acquisition having an overall mean value marginally below the passing point, and a relatively low reliance on external knowledge by these firms. Research limitations/implications - The paper unravels some of the mysteries and difficulties of transferring knowledge both within and across projects. The findings can equally be applied in other project-based industries. Practical implications - A clear policy/strategy governing the ways in which knowledge should be handled is far from prevalent in Hong Kong quantity surveying firms. The appointment of managers for knowledge aspects was only carried out by one third of the responding quantity surveyors. Despite the absence of such an appointment and policy, nearly half of the responding quantity surveyors can seek the necessary knowledge when they need it. Originality/value - Although the study applies uniquely to quantity surveying professional services firms and may not yield an evaluation that is comparable with previous studies, it is hoped that the same survey instrument can be applied to other types of project-based professional services organizations in order to find out whether there are differences among different professions in terms of how they manage their organizational knowledge. In addition, these future studies can offer a benchmarking effect to firms providing customized professional services to clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-126
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2009


  • Knowledge management
  • Process planning
  • Professional services
  • Quantity surveying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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