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1 ACCELERATING NETWORKING SKILLS AMONGST JUNIOR RESEARCHERS IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY CONTEXT: A NEW CHALLENGE FOR A NOVICE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PRACTITIONER Eckson Mokoena & Martie van Deventer DMS # 152755 New Realities, Roles and Resources Internet Librarian International 2007. 8-9 October 2007 Copthorne Tara Hotel, London

2 Slide 2 © CSIR 2006 10.6 9.9 8.7 7.5 7.4 7.3 6.8 5.1 2.2 1.8 1.1 0 4 8 12 Sweden Japan Norway France Russia Australia South Korea Spain South Africa Argentina China Number of full time expert researchers per 1000 total employed National R&D Survey – 2003/4 A research career has a poor profile in the South African employment market

3 Slide 3 © CSIR 2006 Context The organisation renewal activities place science and human capital development on centre stage This project is an experiment designed to assist HR practitioners, the training department as well as Line managers with the career development and mentoring of young professionals. The Information Service is facilitating a Web 2.0 enabled, collaborative environment in which its current key responsibilities are to facilitate the environment, to train those not familiar with the technologies and to provide appropriate information where suitable.

4 Slide 4 © CSIR 2006 The current organisational renewal drive is to place human capital development on centre stage Career ladders are a key mechanism to - monitor and assure the strength of the CSIR’s science and technology base - provide structured development for the CSIR’s human capital Criteria for progression will be rooted in - technical track record - professional standing Remuneration and rewards will be explicitly linked to personal professional advancement

5 Slide 5 © CSIR 2006 Human capital development component LevelDefinitionIndicators 1Develops own skillsLevel of skills 2Develops own career planCareer plan in place 3 Develops own career and provides guidance to junior staff Recent advancement of own career (new qualifications, developing track record) and evidence of development of junior staff 4 Well established in own career. Develops others (leads research teams, provides training, role as a career mentor) Progress of staff on career ladder 5Creates environment for researchers to flourish Attracts and employs leading researchers; sustained achievement by staff

6 Slide 6 © CSIR 2006 Roadmap The research career @ CSIR CSIRIS drive: Results from VRE research at CSIR Mining Social networking and network analysis Mentoring vs VME Selection and construction of social network for VME New roles VME Progress to date Where to next

7 Slide 7 © CSIR 2006 VRE research project Brief background to the project Interviewed 10 researchers in the Mining research area Looked as if the social networks of juniors were insufficient

8 Slide 8 © CSIR 2006 Social networking Social networking relates to the media, the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms including text, images, audio and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis and vlogs (Melcrum, 2007) Social networking relates to Collaboration Conversation Empowerment Sharing Radical trust Wisdom of the crowds (Ojala, 2007)

9 Slide 9 © CSIR 2006 Social network analysis Can be an invaluable tool for systematically assessing and then intervening at critical points within an informal network. Powerful tool for individuals to actively shape their personal networks. Effective tool for promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing within important groups such as core functions of an organization, research and development departments or strategic business units. Provide tools for librarians and knowledge management practitioners which can help in the identification, diagnosis, and active modification of information routes. Has practical application in both assessing and modifying information needs and information delivery. (Cross, 2002) Hypothesis: social networking theory could be applied in mentoring environments to effectively fast track the development of young researchers

10 Slide 10 © CSIR 2006 Findings Noticeable differences in the networks of the experts and the young researchers Not only smaller network – quality of network points also differ Not visibly linked to those who could assist with career growth Lack of understanding of the value of professional networks Lack of knowledge regarding networking ground rules Decision to experiment with a virtual mentoring environment (VME) experiment Calibrated with HR & training

11 Slide 11 © CSIR 2006 Mentoring Current practice at CSIR Virtual Mentoring Environment (VME) Role of management Managed/planned social network Peers Experts HR Training Control group Includes the KM practitioner Self selected & completed formal training

12 Slide 12 © CSIR 2006 VME: Tools and structure Selection Blog (Ask Mariaan) Wiki (Mediawiki) RSS Lightweight portal (looking at Xoops not finalised) Social tagging Structure Personal space Shared space Open space Support network HR Training ICT Managers & experts

13 Slide 13 © CSIR 2006 Virtual mentoring environment Peer mentoring Equal partners with equal standing Expert mentoring team Group chosen with expertise in scientific discipline/ subject area … mining and earth sciences Managed social (but professional) network All have a shared responsibility for ensuring progress All trained to use social networking environment tools

14 Slide 14 © CSIR 2006 New role(s) for a new practitioner Facilitator Impetus of the relationship between the young researcher, his mentoring social network and the technology used to support the environment Using his knowledge of CoPs and expanding that to the blog & wiki environment Ensuring continued management support Awareness creator/ trusted contributor Wise consult … things other than subject expertise Introducing new employees Gatekeeper Published resources & people Identify people outside to pull them into the VRE Trainer Providing continuity Structured introduction to the environment (only if necessary)

15 Slide 15 © CSIR 2006 Progress Identified and briefed all participants HR Learning Academy Mentors Mentees Established environment IT downloaded and set up the specified software IT maintains server and infrastructure support CSIRIS facilitates management of the content Started using the tools Based upon three questions What did I do right today? What mistakes did I make? What help do I need?

16 Slide 16 © CSIR 2006 Conclusion Early days – but all participants appear positive about the process Will review results in April 2008 Impact on mentoring Role of the KM practitioner

17 Slide 17 © CSIR 2006 References Bourdieu, P. 1986. The forms of capital. In J.G. Richardson (Ed). Handbook of the theory and research for the sociology of education. 241-258. New York. Greenwood. Caldwell, T. 2007. Who shares, wins. Information World Review. Issue 230, 23-25. Cross, R., Nohria,N & Parker, A. (2002) Six myth about informal networks and how to overcome them. Sloan Management Review, 2002, Spring, Vol no 3, pp 67-75 Cross, R., Parker, A., & Borgatti S.P. (2002). Making invisible work visible: using social network analysis to support strategic collaboration. California management review, winter, Vol 44no. 2, pp 25-46 CSIR. 2006. Good research guide. Unpublished. CSIR. 2006. A career in research. Unpublished. Godfrey, S. 2006. Partnerships and networks in new materials development. In Krause G (Ed), Creating knowledge networks: working partnerships in higher education, industry and innovation. Pp 94-126. Cape Town. HSRC Press. Hansen, M & Nohria, N. 2004. How to build a collaborative advantage. MIT Sloan Review, Fall, Vol 46 issue 1, pp 22-30. Haythornthwaite, C. (1996). Social network analysis: An approach and technique for the study of information exchange. Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign. How to use media to engage employees. 2007. Melcrum publishing. Kristiansen, S. (2004). Social networks and business success: the role of subcultures in an African context. The American Journal of Economic and Sociology, November. Nahapiet, J. & Ghoshal S. 1998. Social capital, intellectual Capital and the organizational advantage. The Academy of management review. Vol. 23 no. 2, April, 242-266. Ojala, M. 2007. Using social networks in the real world. SAOUG workshop – Pretoria, South Africa. 7Van Deventer, M & Pienaar, H. (2006). Identifying requirements of a specific VRE (Virtual research environment) in a South African Context. CSIR project proposal. Unpublished. Van Wilgen, B. 2006. CSIR guide to a career in research. Unpublished.


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