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Knowledge management

Knowledge Management (KM) is a term associated with the processes for the creation, dissemination, testing and utilization of knowledge.

A widely accepted 'working definition' of Knowledge Management applied in worldwide organizations (http://www.brint.com/casestudies) is available from the WWW Virtual Library on Knowledge Management (http://www.kmnetwork.com/):

"Knowledge Management caters to the critical issues of organizational adaptation, survival, and competence in face of increasingly discontinuous environmental change.... Essentially, it embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings."

Supporting research and practice journals in which this definition is explained as well as in-depth research and applications related to this definition are available in the WWW Virtual Library on Knowledge Management (http://www.kmnetwork.com/).

In a sense KM has been around for ages: librarians, teachers, philosophers and writers have been practising it. In the context of the Information Age and the increasing use of computers, it has come to be seen as a deliberate effort that deals with the process particularly in the context of organizations. Acknowledging the crucial importance of those technologies in KM, the term Knowledge technologies is more and more used to refer to information technologies used to support Knowledge Management.

Table of contents

Managing the instructions

The use of the word 'management' highlights the fact that knowledge is an important resource/asset (in academic accounting regimes it is referred to as instructional capital). Like other styles of capital[?] it requires a focused effort to optimise acquisition, transfer and deployment in an organization and to make sure of the availability and reliability at the right time for decision making[?]. Regardless of how contentious or adversarial this process becomes, an underlying layer of consensus decision making is always required to deal with the choice of language, level of vocabulary, any information technology tools, database or ontology maintenance are additional characteristics of this discipline. The term knowledge base is often used to describe these foundations.

KM is often described as being in step with other organizational initiatives and systems such as Quality Management[?] and Business Process Reengineering[?]. It may be undertaken in parallel with accounting reform to better optimize the organization to exploit its own instructional capital. It seems also to grow out of software configuration management[?] ambitions.

Control versus creativity

However, instructions for humans are not quite like code for computers. Many authors say that knowledge cannot be "managed". Since management implies control, and knowledge relies on creativity, relationships, context they argue that heavy-handed control can stifle knowledge creation [Krogh]. Human development theory for instance draws a strong parallel between the natural capital of the planet's ecologies and the individual capital of human beings, and argues that both simply grow on their own without gaining much from intervention, other than very minimal guidance and protection. To put in place any regime of "management", such arguments go, is simply to force these living things into the structures and rules that evolved for infrastructural capital and financial capital, which respond to very different treatment.

A similar argument applies to customer relationship management and social capital, with detractors arguing that such systems impose social control.

See also

Further reading

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