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Knowledge, Knowledge Management (KM) and KM Strategies – What are they?

Objective

This article is about definition and perspective about knowledge and knowledge management with a light touch to its correlation to organization

Motivation

We know what knowledge is, and most of us know what knowledge management entails but when someone ask us for the definition and its correlation/impacts to our company (either we work for or own); it might surprise us that we might come to a blank, or comes up with multiple different unconnected answers. This article serves as a mean for us to synthesize answers about knowledge, knowledge management and its organizational impacts, then use it as a building block for multiple prevalent topics in this regard.

What is Knowledge?

According to Alavi and Leidner (2001), knowledge is the processed information that derived from data that includes ideas, perception, interpretation, facts and judgment. Knowledge is developed and originated from people, and it emerges based on the individual’s behavior in a certain situation (Kuo, & Lee, 2011). So knowledge is more than just data, information, fact, process, procedure, and ideas. Knowledge is all of those items in combination that forms a final inference or conclusion about a particular subject, matter, issue, problem or situation; which guides decision making.

Knowledge is considered the intellectual capital and an intangible assets (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). Historically, knowledge is often passed and shared from person to person (Brown, Dennis, Burley & Arling, 2013). Based on Wasko and Faraj (2005), individual often find himself/herself not sharing knowledge, for many reason. For these case, intellectual capital (knowledge) is kept and maintained within the worker. According to Pasher and Ronen (2011), the organizational workers are considered the human capital, whom withholds the skill, knowledge and education; the intellectual capital that the company needs. Human capital is also known to be unstable and hard to maintained, because individual can come and leave the company at will with his/her knowledge (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). This leads to the importance of knowledge management.

What is Knowledge Management (KM)?

Knowledge management (KM) is to collect, store, and share knowledge (Kuo, & Lee, 2011). KM is about maintaining the reusable knowledge, and exchanging them (Prusak, 1998). KM is also about creating a knowledge environment where knowledge can be bounced, revised and created (Fong & Kwok, 2009); it is the environment or culture that supports learning, and open to the acceptance of new knowledge (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). Pasher and Ronen (2011) stated that KM has to be like an open lab that triggers new and exciting ideas developments in addition to the current organization competency.

KM is for the purpose, and it is often for the mean of the improvement of a current or future business process (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). To have a successful and effective KM, it requires more than technology alone; it requires understanding and the integration of its human aspect and the right culture to operate (Davenport, DeLong & Beers, 1998). KM is most effective when it is specific, focused and aligned with the organizational scope (Maier, Kalus, Wolff, Kalko, Roca, de Mas, Losko, 2011); it should be based on the organization past, present and future vision (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). This is part of the organization strategy and strategy planning.

What is Strategic Planning and connection to KM?

Based on Heide (1992), strategic planning is an effort that lay out the organization or business short term activities and long term goals. Strategic planning is the process of gathering knowledge, identify the current status, and exploring the future options or alternatives (Bryson, 1988). Current day to day experience is defined as tactical activities, and future projection or vision is considered as strategic activities (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). The definitions for tactical and strategic activities are important because it guides how KM shape within an organization. KM often start for tactical (short term purpose) reason, which can also be used for strategic (long term purpose) reason activities (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). This is the reason that KM and strategic planning goes hand and hand.

KM Strategies – How?

KM strategies is part of the organizational strategic planning where the past, the current and the future goals of the company are developed (Bryson, 1988; Heide, 1992); in this case, KM strategies are plans, goal and future targets which the company wants achieve for KM. According to Ng, Yip, Din and Bakar (2012), there are three types of KM strategies:

1) Codification strategy

2) Personalization strategy

3) Integration strategies

These three strategies aligns with the four models suggests by Becerra-Fernandez and Leidner (2008):

  • Socialization: this fits into personalization strategies where the organizational environment support and encourage knowledge sharing from individual to individual
  • Externalization: this aligns with codification strategy when company attempts to capture individual knowledge and store them in documents or information system
  • Combination: this flows with integration strategies, where organization use both the strategy in 1 and 2

For KM strategies to be effective, management needs to promote a knowledge environment that includes:

  • Execution of the KM strategies (Becerra-Fernandez & Leidner, 2008)
  • Open to creativity, trial and error (Pasher & Ronen, 2011)
  • Maximization of technology for knowledge capture and sharing (Henderson, 2004; Rowlands, Nicholas, Williams, Huntington & Fieldhouse, 2008)
  • Constant investment in knowledge development (Tsai, Chen & Chin, 2010)
  • Treat talent as associate instead if subordinate (Frick & Drucker, 2011; Pasher & Ronen, 2011)

 

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