What is Knowledge Management - Problem-Based-Learning ...

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Nov 6, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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INTRODUCTION

Knowledge Management

has, in recent years, become a major topic for
discussion,
research, organisational implementation plans, the development of
computer information systems and of specialised educational courses. We have
moved into an era where information systems that capture data are no longer
seen as sufficient for future plannin
g in organisations functioning in increasingly
complex and uncertain operating conditions. It is clear when looking at
organisational programmes that
knowledge management may be interpreted in
different ways

but its importance to business is undeniable, as Nonaka (1991)
states "In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure
source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledg
e" (p96). Indeed the
importance of knowledge for business success is demonstrated in the report
issued by the OECD (1996), which cites that more than 50% of Gross Domestic
Product in the main OECD economies is now knowledge based. Knowledge this
report say
s, has always been central to economic development.


Introduction


Views About KM
in the
Organisation


Data, Information

&
Knowledge


Knowledge Management Payoff



Explicit & Tacit Knowledge


Conclusions & References

There is also a
map

available for the Knowledge Management

Review section


© 2003 The OR Society























VIEWS ABOUT KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN THE ORGANISATION

The current focus in management and systems literature on the i
mportance of
organisational knowledge is according to
Prusak

[1997] due to six changed
specifics for organisations.

These changed specifics are the result of shifts in
thinking associated with the
shift in worldview from Newtonian to quantum allies traditional thinking concepts
and ideas against new thinking ideas and concepts and the relevant assumptions
that are made abou
t managing an organisation. These shifts in dire
ction are well
illustrated in

Allee’s (1997) table.

We also need to consider the role of knowledge management in organisations.
KMPG (1999) identified the role of knowledge management as being to improve
the organisation’s competitive advantage. This can
be done through improving
customer focus; employee development; product innovation; sharing of best
practice; new ways of working; creating additional business opportunities; and/or
improving productivity; revenue growth and profit. It allows the organisat
ion to
achieve better decision
-
making; faster response to key business issues; better
customer handling; and improved employee skills. In turn this means less re
-
invention of the wheel; the ability to access information more quickly and turn
round customer

queries more quickly; to track customer histories and contacts
etc.

In practice however, few organisations achieve all or even most of these
benefits. This apparent failure in many knowledge management initiatives seems
primarily to be caused by ‘human’
issues. In many cases there has been a lack of
user uptake (of technological solutions) due to a lack of communication; a failure
to integrate knowledge management into everyday working practices; issues
relating to a lack of training (of technological sol
utions) which means that such
systems are considered too complicated to use and may have technical problems
that make them difficult to learn easily. All this means that individual users of
technological solutions are reluctant to use these systems as they

see no
personal benefit. Even the most ‘successful’ of technological solutions suffer from
a lack of time for knowledge sharing and an inability to truly capture tacit
knowledge and use this knowledge effectively.

Thus we can see that what we are looking
at are ‘human’ factors. This links to
the previous section relating to data, information and knowledge showing that
knowledge management is not a
technolo
gical ‘fix’.

One of the most important factors that becomes clear is that the issue of trust
needs to be taken very seriously. Trust of the technology solution as well as trust
of fellow workers. Without trust knowledge will not be shared.

One important

method of knowledge/information sharing that has occurred in
organisations, both fostered in some cases (such as IBM) by the organisation and
in others through professional interactions, is the formation of Communities of
Practice (CoPs).

The structural
components of an organisation


both the physical and the pre
-
suppositions that relate to the social aspects discussed above
-

are also relevant
to how information is shared and knowledge generated, whether through

CoPs

or
not. Physical components such as the space management and the provision of
social spaces are known to be highly relevant to how people interact and
communicate within organisations. Some
organisations have taken the physical
space issue on board and have created knowledge cafés or knowledge tables in
the staff canteen, or meeting spaces often round the coffee machine or
photocopier. The environment gives people the opportunity to communica
te
effectively and comfortably. It is one which inspires creativity and innovation.
Correct design of the office environment has created a context which promotes
conversation and enjoyable productive work. (Coakes, Sugden, Russell, Camilleri
and Bradburn 2
001). This in turn brings up the issue of co
-
location versus that of
remote location and the technology that can support the sharing of information
with remote colleagues and organisational sites. It can be argued that only in the
presence of co
-
location c
an knowledge management truly be performed and this
is further discussed in the attached documents on trust and the
social and
cultural

environm
ent of the organisation.


Introduction


Views About KM in the Organi
sation


Data, Information

&
Knowledge


Knowledge Management Payoff



Explicit & Tacit Knowledge


Conclusions & References

There is also a
map

available for the Knowledge Management

Review section


© 2003 The OR Society























KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PAYOFF

Treating knowledge as a tangible asset allows for a
value

to be imputed to
knowledge repositories. The Danish Carl Bro group, for example, publishes a set
of
In
tellectual Capital
Accounts annually so that investors and other stakeholders
can value the business for its intellectual worth. Intellectual capital statements
are part of KM, and valuations form part of the history of intellectual capital .
These author
s provide a matrix composed of definitions of human, organisational
and customer capital, which demonstrates how intellectual capital can be made
visible by creating intellectual accounts using specific metrics, based on
statistics, key indicators and meas
ures of effects, but with no fixed model in
view.

Many organisations require apparent bottom
-
line pay
-
offs from knowledge
management and other such initiatives. Lack of evidence of such a pay
-
off (as
calculated above) will be considered as a project
failure
. However, it is important
that organisations recognise that pay
-
off is unlikely to come from short
-
term
increased share prices but is more likely to be
exhibited through a long
-
term
increase in profits and reduced costs which may be exhibited through reducing
future time scales on project completions etc. Pay
-
offs tend to be seen in the
terms of ROI
(investment and return)

rather than human benefits and the
increase in intellectual capital is either not realised or understood. Success in
knowledge management projects are certainly to be thought of in
long
-
term
invisible benefits and not necessarily as part of the ‘bottom
-
line’.

Likely reasons for such a lack of pay
-
off whether in ROI or the increase in
intellectual capital may come from the:



Lack of clear and specific business objective



Incomplete pro
gramme architecture which does not link the dynamics of
organisational change and knowledge

creation and use



Insufficient focus on top strategic priorities



Lack

of sponsorship at all levels not just top management


top
management unsureness about the topic leaves lower level managers
without clear
leadership




The idea that

knowledge management can be performed by a ‘technology
fix’ using such systems as the Internet, data warehousing/mining,
document management, decisions support and groupware rather than a
culture change initiative. Technology can assist the knowledge
mana
gement initiative but it cannot BE the knowledge management
initiative. (see attached file for further information about technology
initiatives)

Managing knowledge, therefore, with a
sociotechnical perspective
, has a wide
ranging necessity to manage the organisation through continuous change and a
process of continuous learning supported, where appropriate, by technology.


Introduction


Views About KM in the
Organisation


Data, Information

&
Knowledge


Knowledge Management Payoff



Explicit & Tacit Knowledge


Conclusions & References

There is also a
map

available for the Knowledge Manage
ment

Review section


© 2003 The OR Society













































EXPLICIT AND TACIT KNOWLEDGE

Clearly there are contradictions over the relationship between information and
knowledge in the literature: for some there is a clear d
ifference between the two
and for others information is a type of knowledge. However, the terms
explicit
and tacit

knowledge appear to be in widespread use.

When discussing knowledge management in an organisational setting, we
discover that there are a number of issues and aspects that we need to consider.
Some theoreticians have divided this up into the tacit versus explicit argument,
but
Morosini

(2000) would argue this is a false distinction. He says that all
knowledge MUST be tacit by its very nature


once outside a person’s mind any
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Introduction


Views About KM in the
Organisation


Data, Information

&

Knowledge Management Payoff

Knowledge



Explicit & Tacit Knowledge


Conclusions & References

There is also a
map

available for the Knowledge Management

Review section


© 2003 The OR Society













































CONCLUSIONS

In this article we have aimed to discuss some of the main concepts that have
formed the basis of thinki
ng, debate and development of organisational
knowledge management projects. We have done so by providing some guidelines
and leads to the range of viewpoints expressed in the literature on definitions of
the terms used in relation to knowledge management.
We have aimed to show
the importance of the knowledge
-
based economy to economic development both
now and increasingly in the future, and thus to the benefit of the organisation
and its competitive advantage.

As more evidence of the way in which knowledge
management initiatives have
been introduced into organisations some important issues have emerged, namely
the need to consider the importance of the socio
-
technical viewpoint rather than
a purely mechanistic approach to any initiatives. What emerges in muc
h of the
latest case study material is the emphasis that is put on communication and
human aspect issues in successful K M initiatives, and that the consideration of
the social and cultural background of any organisation will have considerable
bearing on t
he success or failure of projects. These are sometimes presented as
journal articles by a highly placed manager in the organisation and ideally the
articles discuss the benefits that the programmes have delivered. Alternatively,
there are examples of consu
ltancies reporting on individual organisations or on
aspects of knowledge management generalised from across several organisations
with whom the consultants have been involved. In some cases there are
examples of where knowledge management programmes have
failed. Many of
these articles are included as
case studies

which also provide details on specific
aspects of knowledge management. Occasionally
surveys
, which may be quite
narrowly focused on a particular issue, provide very specific information in
relation to knowledge management and respondents’ attitudes towards it. Fi
nally
the
articles

provide examples of a more theoretical approach taken through a
literature review: this often appears to relate to the
investigation of one
particular aspect of knowledge management.

In the past decade knowledge management has become a central issue for
organisations but it is still difficult to identify whether it is the latest ‘fad’ or one
that will prove of lasting imp
ortance to the future of organisations.

Refs:



Allee, V. (1997)
Training & Development,

51,

71
-
75.



Antonacopoulou EP (1999)
Creativity & Innovation Management

08
, 130
-
140



Apostolou, D., Mentzas, G (1999)
Knowledge & Process Management
(UK),

06,

129
-
139.



Blumentitt R and Johnston R (1999) Towards a strategy for knowledge
management
Technology Analysis & Strategic Management
11
, 287
-
300



Coakes E, Sugden G, Russell S, Camilleri J
-
P, and Bradburn A 2001 (Dec)
‘Managing tacit knowledge in knowledge intensive
firms


is there a role
for technology?’ in E Coakes, D Willis and Clarke S (eds)
Knowledge
Management in the Sociotechnical World: The Graffiti Continues

London:Springer
-
Verlag



Miles, I., Andersen, B., Boden, M., Howells, J (2000)
International Journal
o
f Technology Management, (Switzerland),

20,

95
-
116.



Morosini P (2000) ‘Open Company Values: Transforming Information into
knowledge
-
Based Advantages’ in D Marchand (ed)
Competing with
Information
Chichester:Wiley



Nonaka I (1991)
'The Knowledge Creating C
ompany
' in Harvard Business
Review Nov
-
Dec



OECD (1996)
The Knowledge Based Economy

in 'Science, Technology and
Industry Outlook OECD Paris



Pan SL and Scarbrough H (1999) Knowledge Management in Practice: An
Exploratory Case Study of Buckman Labs
Technolo
gy Analysis and
Strategic Management
11
(3) 359
-
74



Prusak L
Knowledge in Organisations

Butterworth
-
Heinemann 1997



Saint
-
Onge, H. (1996)
Strategy & Leadership (USA),

24,

10
-
15.



Stair



Tuomi I (1999)
Journal of Mangement Information Systems

(USA)
16
,
103
-
1
18


Introduction


Views About KM in the
Organisation


Data, Information

&
Knowledge


Knowledge Management Payoff



Explicit & Tacit Knowledge


Conclusions & References

There is also a
map

available for the Knowledge Management

Review section


© 2003 The OR Society






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