The impact of knowledge management on project success

  • Emhemed Abou Baker Arafa

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The loss of experienced employees in project organisation leads to the loss of valuable knowledge and experience gained over many years. Knowledge management (KM) has the ability to challenge this situation.

This research study is focused on the field of knowledge management in Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) type contracts in Libyan oil and gas industry projects. The research study aims to put forward guidance on how KM should be implemented in practice as a convincing case for the oil and gas construction industry. Adopting a practical «in project environment» KM scheme is a means of becoming more efficient, with greater ability to continuously learn and adapt in a dynamic mode.

In Libya’s oil and gas industry, and in particular, in project development, there has been very little guidance on how KM should be implemented in practice. The existing available KM mostly takes the form of tacit knowledge and almost none was identified as explicit knowledge.

Emergent in nature, the research work is comprised of three phases: initial interviews, case study «A», and case study «B». Each of the phases was combined with a review of relevant literature, primary research (including interviews, questionnaires, case studies and action research) and grounded theory in analytical processes.

Phase (1) - Initial interviews were conducted with project managers and senior managers from three different oil and gas companies; many gaps were identified by investigating issues related to KM. It was evident that KM within the projects organisation was kept in tacit format by individuals.

Phase (2) - Case study (A): Review and analysis of a KM implementation initiative made by a Project Manager (PM) with his team between 2006-2008, was found to be not successful and non-contributory in real-world terms, but in academic terms it gives an opportunity to identify and evaluate challenges to be faced in adopting a KM model in organisations. The role of the Projects Department emerged as essential in the articulation of KM between project and organisation.

Phase (3) - Case study B: The researcher was involved through a live EPC project, making observations and organising interviews when necessary and analyse the created knowledge life cycle during the project.

The research gives much attention to the phenomena of knowledge development during an EPC project; the knowledge created in any of the project phases will take a different shape due to the technical development of the project work from one phase to the next; as such, if the project is not tracked during its development, it will lose its context and dramatically decrease the effectiveness of its re-usability in subsequent project phases and new projects within the organisation.

The added value of this research is the development of a practical organisational model for managing effectively the knowledge created during projects execution, based on an integrated, optimised, and suitable lessons learned tracking system.
Date of AwardOct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAshraf Labib (Supervisor) & Andrew Lee (Supervisor)

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