Issues in Knowledge Management - The American University in Cairo


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



2003 Sherif Kamel

Issues in Knowledge

Dr Sherif Kamel

The American University in Cairo


2003 Sherif Kamel



Knowledge management definition

Data, information and knowledge

Tacit versus Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge Management

An Evolving Concept

Managing Knowledge


2003 Sherif Kamel


Ernst and Young Knowledge Management system

Intranet allows 82000 in global organization share leading
practices and intelligence

Allows access to 1200 internal knowledge bases and external

Software tools facilitate search process (including unasked for
information that may be relevant)

Center for Business Knowledge includes subject matter experts at
strategic locations worldwide

they foster strategic thinking and
package knowledge for assimilation

Believe KM efforts have contributed to firm’s success (how to


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Management Definition

Seeks to collect, organize, and distribute knowledge to
leverage its value collectively across the organization

Many seek to gather and store information

Some do not study whether and how employees use it

KM includes the processes necessary to capture, codify,
and transfer knowledge in order to achieve competitive

Value is minimized if knowledge is not shared beyond individual
and/or workgroup


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Management Definition

KM relation to IT

IT makes up infrastructure for KM systems

KM systems provide data infrastructure for many IS applications

KM is a key application of IS like e
mail reflecting a new business

IT does not guarantee knowledge is captured and/or used

Related to intellectual capital

knowledge that is used to
produce higher valued goods/ services and/or produce
competitive advantage

Terms are sometimes used interchangeably and/or imprecisely


2003 Sherif Kamel

Data, Information and Knowledge


Specific objective facts or observations that can be easily
captured, stored and transmitted

but have no intrinsic meaning.


Data endowed with relevance and purpose, people interpret the
context of the data and summarize it into more condensed form


Information with the most value

includes individual’s unique
experience, judgment and wisdom, values and beliefs are
components, also includes the synthesis of multiple sources over
time, computers are better at dealing with data than knowledge


2003 Sherif Kamel

Tacit versus Explicit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge

First described by Polyani

“we can know more than we can tell”

is personal, context
specific, hard to formalize and
communicate, consists of beliefs, skills, and experiences, entirely
subjective and often acquired through physically practicing a skill
or activity

Explicit knowledge

Traditional focus of IT

can be collected, organized and
transferred through physical and digital means

Tacit knowledge is hard to capture outside human mind.


2003 Sherif Kamel

“Knowledge Management” An Evolving Concept

Concept is not new

It has implications for new technologies such as collaborative
systems and for Internet systems that act as a large,
geographically distributed knowledge repository

Emerging discipline that draws from many areas

Key to competitive advantage

Sustainable advantage relies upon what its employees know and
how they apply knowledge to business problems

Expectations can be exaggerated due to vendor and others claims

one tool to serve organization needs that must be balanced with
other tasks


2003 Sherif Kamel

Managing Knowledge

In the past, no explicit effort had to be made to manage

KM was important to success in different areas of the value chain,
has become knowledge intensive (R&D).

KM becomes more important as basis for competition and needs
to be managed effectively

Sharing best practices

Need to leverage knowledge gained by a subset of the
organization, can not afford to “reinvent the wheel”

up systems to capture best practices and disseminate
experience especially in firms that apply expertise such as
accounting, engineering and consulting firms.


2003 Sherif Kamel

Managing Knowledge


Entire supply chain can operate more effectively globally than
when subject to local supply and demand

Rapid change

Existing knowledge becomes obsolete faster

Employees must learn new skills in less time

KM provides way to optimize use of existing knowledge and help the
transfer of new knowledge across the firm


Has removed knowledge as eliminated employees experience
from firm.

veteran employees with extensive knowledge of organization and its
processes may be hard to find, new employees take longer to get up
to speed.


2003 Sherif Kamel

Managing Knowledge

Managing information and communication overload

Knowledge embedded in products

Many firms sell knowledge as others sell products

Much of the value in the products is due to knowledge embedded
in such products

Sustainable competitive advantage

Increasingly difficult to keep competitors from copying and
improving on products and processes

Life cycle of innovation is growing shorter

The capacity to learn is the one sustainable
competitive advantage


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Management Processes

Knowledge generation

All activities that discover new knowledge (new to individual, firm
or discipline)

Knowledge codification

Capture and organization of knowledge so it can be reused

Knowledge transfer

Transmitting knowledge from on person or group to another and
the absorption of that knowledge

All these processes occur naturally

KM seeks to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of these
activities and leverage their value for the firm


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Generation

Concerns the internal activities of the organization to
acquire or create new knowledge (new to the firm)

Techniques for knowledge generation include

Purchase or rental of knowledge

Research and development

Shared problem solving


Communities of practice


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Capture and Codification

Capturing knowledge involves a continuous process of
scanning, organizing and packaging knowledge

Codification is the representation of knowledge in a
manner that can be easily accessed and transferred


2003 Sherif Kamel

Knowledge Transfer

Four different modes have been identified


From tacit knowledge to tacit knowledge

This occurs through
observation, imitation and practice in apprenticeships, conferences
and “at the water cooler”.


From tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge

must be articulated in a
form such a videotape


From explicit knowledge to explicit knowledge

copying and
distributing a tape transfers it so all can benefit


From explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge

when tape is combined
with prior experience, benefits can result