Thursday, April 14, 2011

Knowledge Management ?

Every few years, a new technological development or management philosophy captures the attention of many strategic thinkers in organisation. First there was the Total Quality Movement, and then followed by Business Process Reengineering and others. There is no doubt, that the last couple of years have seen a surge of interest in knowledge management and also the revolution of Information technology. Now, everybody is talking about Knowledge Management (KM). But normally, not many understand that what the exact meaning of Knowledge Management is all about.

The KM area has spent much of its short time on earth defining itself. The question arise in our head is, why do we insist that there will be such a thing as KM? What the impulse underneath it? What are the value propositions that  “knowledge Management” might bring to our life?

On the other hand, the answer is obvious: As more and more information pours in, we feel ignorance and confuse. We are not keeping up. The knowable business universe is expanding faster than our small brain. So, that’s why we need KM. The existence of KM speaks to two phenomena. One has to do with knowledge and the other with management.

What is Knowledge Management

            Literally, knowledge can be defined as “that which is learned or acquired and integrated in some way in the mind of an individuals, group of individuals, or organisation of individuals that enable the knowledge holder (individual, group or organisation) to do something”. Meanwhile, management in the KM context means monitoring and improving knowledge by measuring and modifying the knowledge processes and the environment.

            Individuals and groups in pursuit of major organisational goals may define knowledge management as a systematic and integrative process of co-ordinating organisation wide activities of acquiring, creating, storing, sharing, diffusing, developing and deploying knowledge. It is a process through which firms create and use their institutional and collective knowledge as follows:

  1. Organisational learning: the process through which the firm acquires information or knowledge.
  2. Knowledge production: the process that transforms and integrates raw information into knowledge, which in turn, is useful to solve business problems.
  3. Knowledge distribution: the process that allows members of the organisation to access and use the collective knowledge of the firm.

Karl E. Sveiby defined Knowledge Management as the “Art of creating value from an organisation’s intangible assets”. Another definition given by Roelof P. uit Beijerse is, “Knowledge Management is achieving organisational goals through the strategy driven motivation and facilitation of knowledge workers to develop, enhance and use their capability to interpret data and information (by using available sources of information, experience, skills, culture, character, personality, feelings etc.) through a process of giving meaning to these data and information.

History of Knowledge Management

 According to Lee Verker, (1999) Internet, Knowledge management is natural. It is a natural process that humans use to maintain and improve their survival. Since the first tribe, humans have been governing the production, transmission and acquisition of knowledge. The survival and legacy of a tribe depended on how well knowledge was managed. Throughout history, storytellers have recited a culture’s oral history, passing on knowledge from generation to generation. Parents transfer knowledge to children. It is what individuals and groups do, and have always done, to survive. The study of KM is not new. Plato designed an academy and Aristotle a Lyceum to advance the knowledge of philosophy. They both experimented with different ideas before settling on the one they felt was most efficient environment for the creation and sharing of knowledge. Ptolemy I Soter, the king of Egypt, began the ancient library of Alexandria. Together with his predecessor they made KM decision of where to place the library; what scrolls to make available; and how to preserve the scrolls in spite of the many attempts to destroy them.

 The study of KM in a business setting is also not new. Studies started in the late 1800s primarily on one facet of KM, the knowledge production in industrial laboratories and engineering groups. Over the last 40 years, organisational learning and computer science has pushed KM into business management. What is new is the recent focus on KM as a profession that concentrates on methods for managing and improving knowledge processes within a commercial enterprise to help it adapt and prosper.

This new focus is leading to the creation of KM offices, consulting practices, research programs, graduate courses, and a supporting industry. The importance of managing knowledge has been known for centuries. However, rather than an ad hoc approach to studying KM and the management of individual knowledge processes, the focus is now on a disciplined approach to managing all the knowledge processes found in human collectives.

Reference :

Sveiby, Karl E. (1996). What is knowledge management?. [on-line] available: (2001 March 7)

Verker, lee. (1999). Knowledge Management Organization. [on-line] Available: http://www..Km.Org/standardsglossaryofterms.htm. (2001 March 6)

Beijerse, Roelof P.uit. (1999). “Question in Knowledge Management: Definition and Conceptualizing A Phenomenon.” Journal Of Knowledge Management, 3 (2), 102. [online] Available:  (2001 March 6)

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