From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Knowledge Management ('KM') comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning. It has been an established discipline since 1995 with a body of university courses and both professional and academic journals dedicated to it. Most large companies have resources dedicated to Knowledge Management, often as a part of 'Information Technology' or 'Human Resource Management' departments, and sometimes reporting directly to the head of the organisation. As effectively managing information is a must in any business, Knowledge Management is a multi-billion dollar world wide market.
Knowledge Management programs are typically tied to organisational objectives and are intended to achieve specific outcomes, such as shared intelligence, improved performance, competitive advantage, or higher levels of innovation.
One aspect of Knowledge Management, knowledge transfer, has always existed in one form or another. Examples include on-the-job peer discussions, formal apprenticeship, corporate libraries, professional training and mentoring programs. However, with computers becoming more widespread in the second half of the 20th century, specific adaptations of technology such as knowledge bases, expert systems, and knowledge repositories have been introduced to further simplify the process.
Knowledge Management programs attempt to manage the process of creation (or identification), accumulation and application of knowledge across an organisation. Knowledge Management, therefore, attempts to bring under one set of practices various strands of thought and practice relating to:
- intellectual capital and the knowledge worker in the knowledge economy
- the idea of the learning organisation
- various enabling organisational practices, such as Communities of PracticeYellow Page directories for accessing key personnel and expertise and corporate
- various enabling technologies such as knowledge bases and expert systems, help desks, corporate intranets and extranets, Content Management, wikisDocument Management and
While Knowledge Management programs are closely related to Organizational Learning initiatives, Knowledge Management may be distinguished from Organisational Learning by a greater focus on specific knowledge assets and the development and cultivation of the channels through which knowledge flows.
The emergence of Knowledge Management has also generated new roles and responsibilities in organisations, an early example of which was the Chief Knowledge Officer. In recent years, Personal knowledge management (PKM) practice has arisen in which individuals apply KM practice to themselves, their roles and their career development.
 Approaches to Knowledge Management
There is a broad range of thought on Knowledge Management with no unanimous definition. The approaches vary by author and school. Knowledge Management may be viewed from each of the following perspectives:
- Techno-centric: A focus on technology, ideally those that enhance knowledge sharing/growth.
- Organisational: How does the organisation need to be designed to facilitate knowledge processes? Which organizations work best with what processes?
- Ecological: Seeing the interaction of people, identity, knowledge and environmental factors as a complex adaptive system.
In addition, as the discipline is maturing, there is an increasing presence of academic debates within epistemology emerging in both the theory and practice of knowledge management. British and Australian standards bodies both have produced documents that attempt to bound and scope the field, but these have received limited acceptance or awareness.
 Schools of thought in Knowledge Management
There are a variety of different schools of thought in Knowledge Management. For example:
- The Intellectual Capital movement with Professor Nick Bontis, Professor Leif Edvinsson and Tom Stewart
- A body of work derivative of information theory associated with Prusak and Davenport.
- Advanced practice and leadership of tangibles & intangibles, living networks, co-creation and whole systems through value networks and value network analysis.
- Complexity approaches associated with David Snowden (see Cynefin).
- 'Narrative' with Denning, Snowden, Boje and others.
 Key concepts in Knowledge Management
 Dimensions of knowledge
A key distinction made by the majority of knowledge management practitioners is Nonaka's reformulation of Polanyi's distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge. The former is often subconscious, internalized, and the individual may or may not be aware of what he or she knows and how he or she accomplishes particular results. At the opposite end of the spectrum is conscious or explicit knowledge -- knowledge that the individual holds explicitly and consciously in mental focus, and may communicate to others. In the popular form of the distinction, tacit knowledge is what is in our heads, and explicit knowledge is what we have codified.
Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) argued that a successful KM program needs to, on the one hand, convert internalized tacit knowledge into explicit codified knowledge in order to share it, but also on the other hand for individuals and groups to internalize and make personally meaningful codified knowledge once it is retrieved from the KM system.
The focus upon codification and management of explicit knowledge has allowed knowledge management practitioners to appropriate prior work in information management, leading to the frequent accusation that knowledge management is simply a repackaged form of information management. (Eg Wilson, T.D. (2002) "The nonsense of 'knowledge management'" Information Research, 8(1), paper no. 144 [Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/8-1/paper144.html]
Critics have argued that Nonaka and Takeuchi's distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge is oversimplified and that the notion of explicit knowledge is self-contradictory. Specifically, for knowledge to be made explicit, it must be translated into information (i.e., symbols outside of our heads).
Another common framework for categorizing the dimensions of knowledge include embedded knowledge (knowledge which has been incorporated into an artifact of some type, for example an information system may have knowledge embedded into its design) and embodied knowledge (representing knowledge as learned capability of the body’s nervous, chemical, and sensory systems). These two dimensions, while frequently used, are not universally accepted.
It is also common to distinguish between the creation of "new knowledge" (i.e., innovation) vs. the transfer of "established knowledge" within a group, organization, or community. Collaborative environments such as communities of practice or the use of social computing tools can be used for both creation and transfer.
 Knowledge capture stages
Knowledge may be accessed, or captured, at three stages: before, during, or after knowledge-related activities.
For example, individuals undertaking a new project for an organization might access information resources to learn best practices and lessons learned for similar projects undertaken previously, access relevant information again during the project implementation to seek advice on issues encountered, and access relevant information afterwards for advice on after-project actions and review activities. Knowledge management practitioners offer systems, repositories, and corporate processes to encourage and formalize these activities.
Similarly, knowledge may be captured and recorded before the project implementation, for example as the project team learns lessons during the initial project analysis. Similarly, lessons learned during the project operation may be recorded, and after-action reviews may lead to further insights and lessons being recorded for future access.
Different organizations have tried various knowledge capture incentives, including making content submission mandatory and incorporating rewards into performance measurement plans. There is controversy over the whether incentives work or not in this field and no firm consensus has emerged.
 Ad hoc knowledge access
One alternative strategy to encoding knowledge into and retrieving knowledge from a knowledge repository such as a database, is for individuals to make knowledge requests of subject matter experts on an ad hoc basis. A key benefit of this strategy is that the response from the expert individual is rich in content and contextualized to the particular problem being addressed and personalized to the particular person or people addressing it. The downside of this strategy is that it is tied to the availability and memory recall skill of specific individuals in the organization. It does not capture their insights and experience for future use should they leave or become unavailable, and also does not help in the case when the experts' memories of particular technical issues or problems previously faced change with time. The emergence of narrative approaches to knowledge management attempts to provide a bridge between the formal and the ad hoc, by allowing knowledge to be held in the form of stories.
 Drivers of Knowledge Management
There are a number of claims as to 'drivers', or motivations, leading to organizations undertaking a knowledge management program.
Perhaps first among these is to gain the competitive advantage (in industry) and/or increased effectiveness that comes with improved or faster learning and new knowledge creation. Knowledge management programs may lead to greater innovation, better customer experiences, consistency in good practices and knowledge access across a global organization, as well as many other benefits, and knowledge management programs may be driven with these goals in mind. Government represents a highly active area, for example DiploFoundation Conference on Knowledge and Diplomacy (1999) outlines the range of specific KM tools and techniques applied in diplomacy.
Considerations driving a Knowledge Management program might include:
- making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services
- achieving shorter new product development cycles
- facilitating and managing organizational innovation and learning
- leverage the expertise of people across the organization
- benefiting from 'network effects' as the number of productive connections between employees in the organization increases and the quality of information shared increases, leading to greater employee and team satisfaction
- managing the proliferation of data and information in complex business environments and allowing employees rapidly to access useful and relevant knowledge resources and best practice guidelines
- managing intellectual capital and intellectual assets in the workforce (such as the expertise and know-how possessed by key individuals) as individuals retire and new workers are hired
 Knowledge Management Technologies
The early Knowledge Management technologies were online corporate yellow pages (expertise locators) and document management systems. Combined with the early development of collaborative technologies (in particular Lotus Notes), KM technologies expanded in the mid 1990s. Subsequently it followed developments in technology in use in Information Management. In particular the use of semantic technologies for search and retrieval and the development of knowledge management specific tools such as those for communities of practice.
More recently social computing tools (such as blogs and wikis) have developed to provide a more unstructured approach to knowledge transfer and knowledge creation through the development of new forms of community. However, such tools for the most part are still based on text, and thus represent explicit knowledge transfer. These tools face challenges distilling meaningful re-usable knowledge from their content.
Knowledge mapping is commonly used to cover functions such as a knowledge audit (discovering what knowledge exists at the start of a knowledge management project), a network survey (Mapping the relationships between communities involved in knowledge creation and sharing) and creating a map of the relationship of knowledge assets to core business process. Although frequently carried out at the start of a Knowledge Management programme, is not a necessarily pre-condition or confined to start up.
 Knowledge Management enablers
Historically, there have been a number of technologies 'enabling' or facilitating knowledge management practices in the organization, including expert systems, knowledge bases, various types of Information Management, software help deskdocument management systems and other IT systems supporting organizational knowledge flows. tools,
The advent of the Internet brought with it further enabling technologies, including e-learning, web conferencing, collaborative software, content management systems, corporate 'Yellow pages' directories, email lists, wikis, blogs, and other technologies. Each enabling technology can expand the level of inquiry available to an employee, while providing a platform to achieve specific goals or actions. The practice of KM will continue to evolve with the growth of collaboration applications, visual tools and other technologies. Since its adoption by the mainstream population and business community, the Internet has led to an increase in creative collaboration, learning and research, e-commerce, and instant information.
There are also a variety of organisational enablers for knowledge management programs, including Communities of Practice, before-, after- and during- action reviews (see After Action Review), peer assists, information taxonomies, coaching and mentoring, and so on.
Another aspect would be the creation of an incentive-system not only to provide the organisation with knowledge but also to manage and handle ideas of employees.
 Knowledge Management roles and organizational structure
Knowledge management activities may be centralized in a Knowledge Management Office, or responsibility for knowledge management may be located in existing departmental functions, such as the Human Resource (to manage intellectual capital) or IT departments (for content management, social computing etc.). Different departments and functions may have a knowledge management function and those functions may not be connected other than informally.
 Knowledge Management lexicon
Knowledge Management professionals may use a specific lexicon in order to articulate and discuss the various issues arising in Knowledge Management. For example, terms such as intellectual capital, metric, and tacit vs explicit knowledge typically form an indispensable part of the knowledge management professional's vocabulary.
 Knowledge Management Reasons of Failure or Success
There is no established evidence as to the reasons behind failure and success of Knowledge Management initiatives in organizations. Some argue that a failure to sustain investment is one factor, but it can equally be argued that if knowledge management delivered on its promises investment would continue. As with many management initiatives, particularly those with a heavy IT basis (as is the case in Knowledge Management), frequent questions are raised about the level of consultation necessary before a program is started; these questions are linked to issues of cultural change and a willingness to share and collaborate with colleagues There is no evidence that Knowledge Management, in all these respects, is any different from other management initiatives.
 Related definitions
- Intellectual capital - the intangible assets of a company which contribute to its valuation.
- Chief Knowledge Officer - an executive responsible for maximizing the knowledge potential of an organization.
- Knowledge - that which can be acted upon.
- Personal knowledge management - the organization of an individual's thoughts and beliefs.
 See also
 Further reading
- Allee, V.(1997) The Knowledge Evolution: Expanding Organizational Intelligence , Elsevier, ISBN 0-7506-9842-X.
- Allee, V (2003) The Future of Knowledge: Increasing Prosperity through Value Networks, Elsevier ISBN 0-7506-7591-8.
- Bhagat, P. M. (2005), Pattern Recognition in Industry, Elsevier, ISBN 0-08-044538-1.
- Boisot, M. (1998), Knowledge Assets, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-829086-1.
- Bontis, N. (2002), World Congress on Intellectual Capital Readings, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann , ISBN 0-7506-7475-X.
- Buckman, R. H. (2004), Building a Knowledge-Driven Organization, McGraw Hill, ISBN 0-07-138471-5.
- Bray, D. (2006). Exploration, Exploitation, and Knowledge Management Strategies in Multi-Tier Hierarchical Organizations Experiencing Environmental Turbulence, North American Assoc. for Computational Social and Organizational Science (NAACSOS) Conference, June 2006. Article available on SSRN
- Callaghan, J. (2002), Inside Intranets & Extranets: Knowledge Management and the Struggle for Power, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-98743-8.
- Choo, C. & Bontis, N. (2002), The Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge , Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-513866-X.
- Clare, M. and Detore A. (2000), Knowledge Assets Professional's Guide to Valuation and Financial Management, Apsen Publishers, ISBN 0-15-607000-6.
- Collison, C. & Parcell, G (2004), Learning to Fly - Practical Knowledge Management From Leading and Learning Organizations, Capstone Publishing, ISBN 1-84112-509-1
- Cross, R. and Parker, A. (2004), The Hidden Power Of Social Networks, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass, ISBN 1-59139-270-5.
- Davenport, T. and Prusak, L. (1997), Working Knowledge, Harvard 1998, ISBN 0-87584-655-6.
- Desouza, K.C. (2005),New Frontiers of Knowledge Management,Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-40394-240-4
- Desouza, K.C. and Awazu, Y. (2005), Engaged Knowledge Management: Engagement with New Realities, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-40394-510-1.
- Drucker P. F., D. Garvin, D. Leonard, S. Straus and J. S. Brown (1998), Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management, HBS Press, ISBN 0-87584-881-8.
- Edvinsson, L. and Malone, M. (1997), Intellectual Capital: Realising Your Company’s True Value by Finding its Hidden Brainpower. New York: HarperBusiness, ISBN 0-88730-841-4.
- Dixon, N. M. (2000), Common Knowledge: How Companies Thrive by Sharing What They Know, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, ISBN 0-87584-904-0.
- Becerra-Fernandez, I., A. González and R. Sabherwal (2004), Knowledge Management: Challengers, Solutions and Technologies, ISBN 0-13-101606-7.
- Garvin, D. A. (2000), Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, ISBN 1-57851-251-4.
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- Malhotra, Y. (1996-2007) A Case For Knowledge Management: Rethinking Management for the New World of Uncertainty and Risk, BRINT Institute, New Hartford, NY. Online at http://www.kmbook.com/.
- Malhotra, Y. (2000), Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations, Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, PA, ISBN 1-878289-73-X.
- Malhotra, Y. (2001), Knowledge Management and Business Model Innovation, Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, PA, ISBN 1-878289-98-5.
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- Nonaka, I. and Takeushi, H. (1995), The Knowledge-Creating Company, New York: Oxford University Press.
- Frid, R. (2004), Frid Framework for Enterprise Knowledge Management: A Common KM Framework for the Government of Canada, IUniverse Publishing, ISBN 0-595-30699-3.
- O'Dell, C. and C. J. Grayson Jr. (1998), If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice, Free Press, New York, ISBN 0-684-84474-5.
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- Polanyi, M. (1967), The Tacit Dimension, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, ISBN 0-385-06988-X.
- Rumizen, M. C. (2001), Complete Idiot's Guide to Knowledge Management, Alpha, ISBN 0-02-864177-9.
- Schwartz, D, editor (2005), Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management, Idea Group Reference, ISBN 1-59140-574-2.
- Stankosky, M., editor (2004), Creating the Discipline of Knowledge Management: The Latest in University Research, Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0-7506-7878-X
- Sveiby, K. E. (1997), The New Organizational Wealth: Managing & Measuring Knowledge-Based Assets, Berrett-Koehler, ISBN 1-57675-014-0.
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- Stewart, T. (1997) Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organisations,ISBN 0-385-48228-0. New York: Doubleday,
- Tiwana, A. (2002), The Knowledge Management Toolkit: Orchestrating IT, Strategy, and Knowledge Platforms (2nd Edition), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002, ISBN 0-13-009224-X.
- United Nations (2003), Expanding Public Space for the Development of the Knowledge Society, Report of the Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Knowledge Systems for Development, 4-5 September 2003, United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs, United Nations, New York, 2003, PDF: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UN/UNPAN014138.pdf
- Wissensmanagement Forum (Hg.): An Illustrated Guide to Knowledge Management, Graz 2002, URL: http://www.wm-forum.org Download PDF Version
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