Knowledge Management: an emerging management concept


Knowledge Management is a process that helps organizations identify, select, organize, disseminate and transfer important information and expertise that are a part of the organizational memory that typically resides within an organization in an unstructured manner. It is also treated as the knowledge warehouse. This enables effective and efficient problem solving, dynamic learning, strategic planning and decision making. Knowledge management focuses on identifying knowledge, explicating it in a way so that it can be shared in a formal manner, and thus reusing it.

Knowledge management enables the communication of knowledge from one person to another so that it can be used by the other person. It covers a wide range of areas that can be practiced within an organization. The fields in which knowledge concepts are deployed in organization through knowledge initiatives are:

·          sharing knowledge and best practices

·          instilling responsibility for sharing knowledge

·          capturing and reusing best practices

·          embedding knowledge in products , services and processes

·          producing knowledge as a product

·          driving knowledge generation for innovation

·          mapping networks of experts

·          building and mining customer knowledge bases

 

Goals and Objectives of Knowledge Management

The aim of knowledge management is to continuously improve an organization’s performance through the improvement and sharing of organizational knowledge throughout the organization (i.e., the aim is to ensure the organization has the right knowledge at the right time and place). Knowledge management is the set of proactive activities to support an organization in creating, assimilating, disseminating, and applying its knowledge. Knowledge management is a continuous process to understand the organization’s knowledge needs, the location of the knowledge, and how to improve the knowledge.

Broadly, we can put classify the goal of knowledge management into four different aspects.

·        create knowledge repository

·        improve knowledge assets

·        enhance the knowledge environment

·        manage knowledge as an asset

Knowledge Management Activities

Knowledge management consists of four basic functions: externalization, internalization, intermediation and cognition (Frappaolo, 1998):

Externalization:Externalization is capturing knowledge in an external repository and organizing it by some framework in an effort to discover similar knowledge. Technologies that support externalization are imaging systems, databases, workflow technologies, document management systems using clustering techniques, etc.

Internalization: Internalization is the process of identifying knowledge, usually explicit, relevant to a particular user’s needs. It involves mapping a particular problem, situation, or a point of interest against the body of knowledge already captured through externalization.

Intermediation: Intermediation  is similar to the brokering process for matching a knowledge seeker with the best source of knowledge (usually tacit) by tracking the experience and interest of individuals and groups of individuals. Some technologies that facilitate these processes are groupware, intranets, workflow and document management systems.

Cognition: Cognition  applies the knowledge exchanged preceding three processes. This is probably the knowledge management component that is most difficult to automate because it relies on human cognition to recognize where and how knowledge can be used.

In order to manage knowledge effectively in organizations, besides other factors, special attention should be given to contextual dimensions of organization such as strategy, technology and culture, that is:

·        Most important is building a strong culture to adopt and support it.

·        Defining effective strategies for using all knowledge resources efficiently.

·        Using information technologies (digital documents, intranets, expert systems etc) for developing knowledge management systems.

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