Organizational Memory and Knowledge Management


Nov 6, 2013 (4 years and 5 months ago)


Organizational Memory and Knowledge Management

Guest Editorial

Andreas Abecker,
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany

Stefan Decker,
Stanford University Database Group, USA

Frank Maurer,
Department of Computer Science, Univer
sity of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The companies of the future will live in an environment where markets are continuously
shifting, technology proliferating, competitors multiplying, and products become obsolete
night. In the currently emerging knowled
ge society, knowledge is seen as the most
important success factor. Similar to the significance of technologies and mechanical machines
during the industrial revolution, the continuous creation and renewal of innovative ideas, as
well as the management of
existing bodies of tacit and exlicit knowledge will play the pivotal
role in the future's businesses. The creation and acquisition of knowledge as well as its
efficient utilization will be the most decisive factors for maintaining or achieving the leading
edge in successful markets.

The term
Knowledge Management

(KM) has been coined and rapidly adopted in the
Business and Organization Sciences as a new endeavor to bundle in a holistic manner
formerly isolated efforts, to revitalize partial approaches inter
disciplinarily, and to exploit in a
creative, yet practically oriented way the exciting potentials of emerging new technologies in
the Internet age. The roots of KM can be identified in research areas such as Organization
Science, Social and Organizational

Psychology, Human Resource Management, Computer
Supported Colla
rative Work, Intelligent Information Systems, and Artificial Intelligence. A
holistic approach to KM solutions will always consider a tuned interaction of management
activities concerning
people, processes, and technology
. Here, innovative technology is
usually seen as the
enabling factor

which caused a new enthusiasm for aims which were
already addressed many years ago
with more or less success
under labels like
Organizational Intellig
ence, Learning Organizations, or Organizational Memory. On the other
hand, it is clear now without any doubts that KM in total must care about
all three

above, because technology alone will never work without careful examination of the social
and o
rganizational factors around. There are even succesful and important KM initiatives
which can live completely without the use of extraordinary technological support.

In this
Special Issue on Knowledge Management and Organizational Memory
(which is an
rtant technological tool to support effective KM) we will try to challenge the IT
community to approach today’s
Information Systems Frontiers

a few steps further, driven by
the requirements and approaches of Knowledge Management.

To this end, we present th
ree papers (the ones by
Lehner & Maier,

Masterton & Watt,

Kanfer, Bruce, Haythornthwaite, Burbules, Wade, Bowker & Porac
) which enlighten the
theoretical, historical, and methodological background for Know
ge Management and
Organizational Mem
ory Information Systems, thus giving the holistic and interdisciplinary
perspective, framework, and requirements.

Further, we have two contributions presenting innovative software solutions which go well
beyond contemporary standard information systems. Mo
tivated by a serious interpretation of
the term

Ackerman & McDonald

report on their work underlying
the seminal AnswerGarden system which aims at capturing the informal knowledge embed
ded in a company’s inofficial communication and c
ollaboration flows. Based upon a careful
lysis of the word Organizational
Memory, Abecker, Bernardi, Hinkelmann, Kühn &

describe their KnowMore system which combines Workflow technology and Artificial
gence in order to offer proactive

and context
sensitive information assistance to the

Last but not least, the paper by
Althoff, Bomarius & Tautz

shows that KM activities cannot
be seen in isolation from the application domain they are located in, but must be embedded in
and can p
rofit from mature methods and stable knowledge already gathered about the world
where KM solutions shall be deployed.

This Special Issue’s contributions in alphabetical order of the first authors:

Process Oriented Knowledge Management: Abecker

et al.

A system prototype is described which couples an active information assistant and a
workflow engine in order to proactively present context
sensitively selected information
sources to a user accomplishing knowledge
intensive tasks in a business pr

From Collaboration Support to Collective Memory: Ackerman & McDonald

The authors present two systems for incorporating communication flows among people into
an organizational memory framework, and for distilling and refining the informal informa
obtained through such communication flows. They report on the AnswerGarden 2 application
which was built using these two systems.

Knowledge Management for Learning Software Organizations: Althoff, Bomarius &

The paper combines knowledge manage
ment technology, in particular case
based reasoning
systems, and mature approaches from Software Engineering, like the Experience Factory
model, to provide support for the creation of learning software organizations.

Modelling Distributed Knowledge Proce
sses in Next Generation Multidisciplinary
Alliances: Kanfer
et al.

A new model for understanding knowledge sharing in distributed knowledge processes is
proposed and applied to examine the tension between embedded and mobile knowledge in
distributed, mult
idisciplinary scientific teams in the National Computational Science Alliance,
which can be seen as a prototypical next generation virtual knowledge
based enterprise.

Influence of OM Theories on OM Systems: Lehner & Maier

On the ground of a comprehensive

review of interdisciplinary contributions to a theory of
Organizational Memory, which takes into account influences from organization science,
psychology, sociology, and artificial intelligence, the authors draw conclusions for the
development of OM Infor
mation Systems which are different from traditional software
development perspectives. These conclusions lead to research questions to be addressed in the

Social Roles and Meta Knowledge Management: Masterton & Watt

Starting with an analysis
of common problems of knowledge management systems in
practice, the paper adapts models and theories from social and organisational psychology as
well as CSCW in order to obtain practical lessons and a new framework to help designing
future knowledge manag
ement systems which will be accepted by their intended users.

All papers considered for publication in this special issue have been carefully reviewed by at
least three acknowledged IT experts working in areas such as Groupware, Knowledge

Software Engineering, Database Systems, Business Informatics, Workflow, and
Information Systems. We gratefully acknowledge the work of our reviewers: Klaus
Althoff, Richard Bentley, Frank Bomarius, Uwe M. Borghoff, Simon Buckingham Shum,
Stefan Dec
ker, Vladan Devedzic, John Domingue, Dieter Landes, David W. McDonald,
Patrizia Marti, Frank Maurer, Peter Mertens, Andreas Oberweis, Mark Perry, Jean
Poitou, Duska Rosenberg, and Rudi Studer.