Minot State University College of Business professor John Girard spent part of his spring break presenting on knowledge management at a conference in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Girard said knowledge management teaches businesses a process that helps them pool essential knowledge for an organization instead of losing it when a key employee dies, retires or leaves the company.
It is the subject of "A Leader's Guide to Knowledge Management," a book Girard co-wrote with his wife, JoAnn.
Submitted Photo - - MSU professor John Girard presented on knowledge management in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Submitted Photo - - MSU professor John Girard, center, speaks with other participants at a conference in the United Arab Emirates earlier this spring.
Submitted Photo - - MSU professor John Girard speaks with another participant at a conference in the United Arab Emirates earlier this spring.
"This was very popular in the United States a decade or so ago," Girard said. "Right now there's a real interest in the Middle East."
Girard said the idea might be so popular in the United Arab Emirates because so many companies there employ expatriates who end up leaving after a few years, leaving a hole in their organizational knowledge.
"They're constantly having a turn-over of senior executives," Girard said. "It's easy to have these things fall through the cracks."
Knowledge management gives companies a series of tools and techniques they can use to create and exchange organizational knowledge, which is needed to help leaders make good decisions.
Some companies might be leery of moving from a "need-to-know basis" to a "need-to-share basis" in a WikiLeaks era, when some businesses might be fearful of sensitive information being leaked to a competitor or to the news media by an employee. The challenge is how to balance those concerns with the need to share information.
This is Girard's 10th trip to the United Arab Emirates since he arrived at Minot State University seven years ago. He has given workshops all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Oman and Australia and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East.
He has a positive view of much of what is going on in business in the Middle East. It is far more diverse and fascinating than people in the United States often realize, he said.
Some of the political unrest in the Middle East ties in with one of Girard's current areas of research: social media and globalization.
The revolution in Egypt was fueled largely by the power of Facebook and Twitter and young people's use of social media. He said people at the conference in Abu Dhabi were fascinated by presentations on how social media charged the revolution in Egypt.
"I think it might be more appropriate to call it the 'Twitter Revolution,' " Girard said.