There is a growing interest in the application of information technologies (IT) for Knowledge Management (KM) in the public sector; there is, however, a dearth of research on the design and development of effective, integrated Knowledge Management Systems (KMS). Consequently, public sector organisations and private sector enterprises are offered little in the way of guidance in designing KMS from the bewildering range of information technologies said to capture, store, retrieve, transfer and apply knowledge. Action research, with its emphasis on praxis and on the importance of 'situated, practical theory,' is an ideal vehicle for deepening the IS field's understanding of the design of IT-enabled Knowledge Management Systems for use in Government and Non-Government Organisations. This paper reports on the outcomes of two related participatory action research studies involving a University R&D team, practitioners from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and a Government Department. The first of these studies focused on the design and development, using UNFPA practitioners' practical theory, of a desktop-based IT artefact for knowledge sharing. The second action research study extends and applies the lessons learned from the first to develop an enterprise-wide core IT artefact for the Government Department's Knowledge Management System. This paper contributes to both research and practice by: (1) offering a conceptual schema based on practical theory to inform the design and development of a core IT artefact for KMS and (2) describing the functions and features of a typical core IT artefact. The study also differentiates between core and non-core IT artefacts for knowledge sharing in organisations. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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