Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration


Faculty of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Craig Standing

Second Supervisor

Mark Campbell Williams


Dao (Way)

The Way that can be experienced is not true;

The world that can be constructed is not true.

The Way manifests all that happens and may happen;

The world represents all that exists and may exist.

To experience without intention is to sense the world:

To experience with intention is to anticipate the world.

These two experiences are indistinguishable;

Their construction differs but their effect is the same.

Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way'.

Which is ever greater and more subtle than/he world.

Lao-Tzu, TaoDeChing, tr. Peter A. Merel

This thesis is a reflective practitioner autoethnographic account of the way in which a Chinese interior design firm, through inspiration from Chinese philosophy (as exemplied in the beginning quotes), developed and used a reflective practitioner knowledge management system, called kBlogCentral, based around web-based blogs. The objective of setting up kBlogCentral was to build a simple, low cost knowledge management system for managing knowledge regarding various projects among the staff. All members of the firm are encouraged to perform reflective practitioner research and publish their knowledge as part of virtual teams regarding their professional practice.

This reflective practitioner study depicts the rationale, process, and implications of building the system especially regarding inspiration from traditional and contemporary Chinese philosophy as this is seen as a culturally appropriate philosophical underpinning. The research outcome, present d throughout the thesis, is a rich description and reflections of employing action reflective practitioner research and a Web technology on the Internet, called Blog to manage knowledge in the interior design company in the light of Chine e thinking. Blog technology is mainly manifested in interactive websites that allow for rich Web based interaction and communication.

The research question is: "How did the process of developing an using a Blog-based reflective practitioner knowledge management system, through inspiration from Chinese philosophy, change the professional practice of member of a Chinese interior design firm?" As part of answering this question, I report on my attempts to inspire change in the purpose, behaviour and underlying culture of a Chinese design firm aspiring to transform its management and practice. The major arena for this transformation is the KBlogCentral knowledge management system. The "Dao " (way) to such transformation is the member of the firm employing heuristic elf-reflective action research to 'find it future', with and through its people. In this process I have reported on innovative and, to my mind, valuable discoveries in knowledge elicitation and methods of integrating the views f my colleagues. This doctoral thesis, reporting on my finding of these discoveries, is my contribution to knowledge within the academic information systems, design, and management fields.

The research reveals that knowledge, as a social product of human interactions, does not exist outside an agent - human beings. Thus the main role of knowledge management is to support social human interactions instead of just employing information technology to manipulate data, information and explicit knowledge as advocated by the functionalist approach. Knowledge management practices in China are found to be highly influenced by the contemporary interpretations of strands of traditional Chine e philosophy. The existence of a linguistic divide, resulting from some obsolete or misinterpreted doctrines of traditional Chinese philosophy, impedes the processes of creating and sharing knowledge in China. This thesis is a b ginning endeavour to critically examine these obsolete and distorted doctrines as a contribution towards a modem form of Chinese philosophy revitalizing Chinese to meet the challenges of a growing knowledge economy. Thus an undercurrent of heuristic hope runs through this thesis in that, within technology originating from and dominated by the West, this thesis reveals how knowledge management practice in China can be inspired by Chinese philosophy.