Knowledge Management


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Knowledge Management efforts overlap with Organizational Learning, and may be distinguished from that by a greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and a focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge.

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  • [1] Bradley (2007) points out a recent development in the world of business. There has been the emergence of new departments in corporations which carry the word “Insight” in their titles. We have “Customer Insight Departments”, Insight Management Unit, Consumer Insight, and so on. This extends to the job titles of executives working in those areas. One reason for this development was a realization that the emphasis of results from individual research projects needed to be shifted to a wider understanding of the dynamics operating in the full market place. Another reason was the impact of IT. Progress in technology gave way to the availability of masses of information found in databases. The advantages of Insight Management are numerous. By making use of all existing information, there is less need to consult customers, thereby minimising unnecessary contact and costs.
  • [1] Nonaka, Ikujiro (1991), "The knowledge creating company", Harvard Business Review 69 (6 Nov-Dec): 96-104, [2] Alavi, Maryam & Dorothy E. Leidner (1999), "Knowledge management systems: issues, challenges, and benefits", Communications of the AIS 1  (2) , <> [3] Addicott, Rachael; Gerry McGivern & Ewan Ferlie (2006), "Networks, Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management: NHS Cancer Networks", Public Money & Management 26  (2): 87-94 , <>
  • [1] McAdam, Rodney & Sandra McCreedy (2000), "A Critique Of Knowledge Management: Using A Social Constructionist Model", New Technology, Work and Employment 15  (2) , <> [2] Thompson, Mark P.A. & Geoff Walsham (2004), "Placing Knowledge Management in Context", Journal of Management Studies 41  (5): 725-747 , <> [3] Wright, Kirby (2005), "Personal knowledge management: supporting individual knowledge worker performance", Knowledge Management Research and Practice 3 : 156–165 , DOI doi:10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500061
  • [1] Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Examples of Web 2.0 include web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies. A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users or to change website content, in contrast to non-interactive websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them. [2] Enterprise social software (also known as or regarded as a major component of Enterprise 2.0), comprises social software as used in "enterprise" (business/commercial) contexts. It includes social and networked modifications to corporate intranets and other classic software platforms used by large companies to organize their communication. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software tends to encourage use prior to providing structure.
  • [1] Spender, J.-C. & Andreas Georg Scherer (2007), "The Philosophical Foundations of Knowledge Management: Editors' Introduction", Organization 14  (1): 5-28 , <>
  • Knowledge Management

    1. 1. Knowledge Management An Overview by Jerald Burget
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights¹ and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Philosophical debates in general start with Plato's formulation of knowledge as &quot;justified true belief&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>There is however no single agreed definition of knowledge presently nor any prospect of one, and there remain numerous competing theories. </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association and reasoning. </li></ul><ul><li>The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject with the ability to use it for a specific purpose if appropriate. </li></ul>
    4. 4. History <ul><li>An established discipline since 1991¹, KM includes courses taught in the fields of Business Administration, Information Systems, Management, and Library and Information Sciences². </li></ul><ul><li>More recently, other fields have started contributing to KM research; these include Information & Media, Computer Science, Public Health, and Public Policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Many large companies and non-profit organizations have resources dedicated to internal KM efforts, often as a part of their 'Business Stgrategy', 'IT', or 'Human Resource Management' departments³. </li></ul><ul><li>Several consulting companies also exist that provide strategy and advice regarding KM to these organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>KM efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, and continuous process improvement of the organization. </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>KM efforts overlap with Organizational Learning, and may be distinguished from that by a greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and a focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>KM efforts can help individuals and groups to share valuable organizational insights, to reduce redundant work, to avoid reinventing the wheel per se, to reduce training time for new employees, to retain intellectual capital as employees, turnover in an organization, and to adapt to changing environments and markets¹,². </li></ul><ul><li>KM efforts have a long history, to include on-the-job discussions, formal apprenticeship, discussion forums, corporate libraries, professional training and mentoring programs. </li></ul><ul><li>More recently, with increased use of computers in the second half of the 20th century, specific adaptations of technologies such as Knowledge Bases, Expert Systems, knowledge repositories, Group Decision Support Systems, intranets and Computer Supported Cooperative Work have been introduced to further enhance such efforts. </li></ul>
    6. 6. <ul><li>In 1999, the term Personal Knowledge Management was introduced which refers to the management of knowledge at the individual level. </li></ul><ul><li>More recently with the advent of the Web 2.0¹, the concept of KM has evolved towards a vision more based on people participation and emergence. </li></ul><ul><li>This line of evolution is termed Enterprise 2.0². However, there is still a debate (and discussions) whether Enterprise 2.0 is just a fad, or if it brings something new, is the future of KM and is here to stay. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Research <ul><li>A broad range of thoughts on the KM discipline exists with no unanimous agreement; approaches vary by author and school. </li></ul><ul><li>As the discipline matures, academic debates have increased regarding both the theory and practice of KM, to include the following perspectives: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Techno-centric with a focus on technology, ideally those that enhance knowledge sharing and creation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational with a focus on how an organization can best be designed to facilitate knowledge processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ecological with a focus on the interaction of people, identity, knowledge, and environmental factors as a Complex Adaptive System akin to a natural ecosystem </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regardless of the school of thought, core components of KM include People, Processes, Culture, Structure, Technology, depending on the specific perspective¹. </li></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>Different KM schools of thought include various lenses through which KM can be viewed and explained, to include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community of Practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Network Analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual Capital </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity Science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructivism </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Dimensions <ul><li>Different frameworks for distinguishing between knowledge exist. One proposed framework for categorizing the dimensions of knowledge distinguishes between tacit and explicit knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Tacit Knowledge represents internalized knowledge that an individual may not be consciously aware of how they accomplishes particular tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>At the opposite end of the spectrum, explicit knowledge represents knowledge that the individual holds consciously in mental focus, in a form that can easily be communicated to others. </li></ul><ul><li>Early research suggested that a successful KM effort needs to convert internalized tacit Knowledge into explicit knowledge in order to share it, but the same effort must also permit individuals to internalize and make personally meaningful any codified knowledge retrieved from the KM effort. </li></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><li>Subsequent research into KM suggested that a distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge represented an oversimplification and that the notion of explicit knowledge is self-contradictory. </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically, for knowledge to be made explicit , it must be translated into information (i.e., symbols outside of our heads. Later on, Ikujiro Nonaka proposed a model (SECI for Socialization, Externalization, Combination, Internalization) which considers a spiraling knowledge process interaction between explicit and tacit knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>In this model, knowledge follows a cycle in which implicit knowledge is 'extracted' to become explicit knowledge, and explicit knowledge is 're-internalized' into implicit knowledge. </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>A second proposed framework for categorising the dimensions of knowledge distinguishes between embedded knowledge of a system outside of a human individual (e.g., an information system may have knowledge embedded into its design) and embodied knowledge representing a learned capability of a human body’s nervous and endocrine systems. </li></ul><ul><li>A third proposed framework for categorising the dimensions of knowledge distinguishes between the exploratory creation of &quot;new knowledge&quot; (i.e., innovation) vs. the transfer or exploitation of &quot;established knowledge&quot; within a group, organisation, or community. </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative environments such as communities of practice or the use of social computing tools can be used for both knowledge creation and transfer. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Strategies <ul><li>Knowledge may be accessed at three stages: before, during, or after KM-related activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Different organizations have tried various knowledge capture incentives, including making content submission mandatory and incorporating rewards into performance measurement plans. </li></ul><ul><li>Considerable controversy exists over whether incentives work or not in this field and no consensus has emerged. </li></ul><ul><li>One strategy to KM involves actively managing knowledge (push strategy). </li></ul><ul><li>In such an instance, individuals strive to explicitly encode their knowledge into a shared knowledge repository, such as a database, as well as retrieving knowledge they need that other individuals have provided to the repository. </li></ul><ul><li>Another strategy to KM involves individuals making knowledge requests of experts associated with a particular subject on an ad hoc basis (pull strategy). </li></ul>
    13. 13. <ul><li>In such an instance, expert individual(s) can provide their insights to the particular person or people needing this. </li></ul><ul><li>Other knowledge management strategies for companies include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rewards (as a means of motivating for knowledge sharing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Storytelling (as a means of transferring tacit knowledge) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-project learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>After action reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge mapping (a map of knowledge repositories within a company accessible by all) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communities of Practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Best practice transfer </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><ul><li>Competence management (systematic evaluation and planning of competences of individual organization members) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proximity & architecture (the physical situation of employees can be either conducive or obstructive to knowledge sharing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Master-apprentice relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborative technologies (groupware, etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge repositories (databases, etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measuring and reporting intellectual capital (a way of making e xplicit knowledge for companies) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge brokers (some organizational members take on responsibility for a specific &quot;field&quot; and act as first reference on whom to talk about a specific subject) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social software (wikis, social bookmarking, blogs, etc) </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Motivations <ul><li>A number of claims exist as to the motivations leading organizations to undertake a KM effort. Typical considerations driving a KM effort include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Achieving shorter new product development cycles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitating and managing innovation and organisational learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leveraging the expertise of people across the organisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing network connectivity between internal and external individuals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Managing business environments and allowing employees to obtain relevant insights and ideas appropriate to their work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solving intractable or wicked problems </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. <ul><ul><li>Managing intellectual capital and intellectual assets in the workforce (such as the expertise and know-how possessed by key individuals) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debate exists whether KM is more than a passing fad, though increasing amount of research in this field may hopefully help to answer this question, as well as create consensus on what elements of KM help determine the success or failure of such efforts. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Technologies <ul><li>Early KM technologies included online corporate yellow pages as expertise locators and Document Management systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Combined with the early development of collaborative technologies (in particular Lotus Notes), KM technologies expanded in the mid-1990s. </li></ul><ul><li>Subsequent KM efforts leveraged semantic technologies for search and retrieval and the development of eLearning tools for Communities of Practice. </li></ul><ul><li>More recently, development of social computing tools (such as blogs and wikis) have allowed more unstructured, self-governing or ecosystem approaches to the transfer, capture and creation of knowledge, including the development of new forms of communities, networks, or matrixed organisations. </li></ul><ul><li>However such tools for the most part are still based on text and code, and thus represent explicit knowledge transfer. These tools face challenges in distilling meaningful re-usable knowledge and ensuring that their content is transmissible through diverse channels. </li></ul>