The paper "Definitions of Knowledge Management" is a perfect example of a management assignment. In the current market scenario that is characterized by intense competition, organizations must know what they know and be able to use their knowledge base as leverage in gaining a competitive advantage. In this era of knowledge, individuals, organizations and other institutions can create a sustainable competitive advantage through the adoption of appropriate and effective knowledge management processes (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). The institutions that can effectively leverage the emerging technologies to exploit the available pool of data will realize the ultimate benefits by establishing a competitive advantage that will allow it to prevail in the dynamic market place.
The competitive advantage could be realized in various forms such as identifying trends, hidden relationships and unusual patterns. The emphasis of knowledge management thus arises out of the great need for organizations to effectively manage resources in the current global hyper-competitive economy. There are many definitions of knowledge management. This paper evaluates four of them: According to Davenport and Prusak, knowledge management draws from existing resources that the organization may already have in place including organizational change management, good information systems management and the human resources management practices (Davenport & Prusak, 1998).
This definition assumes that knowledge is objective or external to the mind and present at the organization level. Indeed, knowledge management is passed on the basic idea that the most valuable resource of an organization is the knowledge of its people. This definition is more relevant in a practical setting. Every organization needs an effective information system that contains all the information regarding its operations so that in case of a change in management, the new individuals will easily cope up with their duties.
This definition is more applicable to organizations that have adopted lean production culture. In my opinion, the most useful aspect of the definition is information system management. This is because properly managed information will be a source of knowledge to the newcomers who are joining the organization as well as ensure that every process is well documented. The second definition was brought forward by Nonaka and Takeuchi. According to them, knowledge management is the capability of an organization to create new knowledge, disseminate the knowledge throughout the entire organization and embody it in services, products and all the systems (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995, p.
58). This definition is more theoretical than practical since it personalizes knowledge and fails to take into account the fact that knowledge is messy. Knowledge is usually connected to everything else and available within the organization. It resides in the people and one cannot isolate the aspect of knowledge neatly. However, this definition appreciates that knowledge is self-organizing and all the organization needs to worry about is acquisition, dissemination and incorporation of new knowledge to its system.
The most important aspect of this definition is the creation of new knowledge. This is because new knowledge will help an organization in establishing and retaining a competitive advantage. According to Wiig, knowledge refers to the insights, understanding and practical know-how that is possessed by everyone; in other words, it is the fundamental resource that allows us to function intelligently. He further suggests that, over time, considerable knowledge is also transformed into other manifestations such as books, technology, practices, and traditions within organizations of all kinds and in society in general.
These transformations result in cumulated expertise and, when used appropriately, increased effectiveness (Wiig, 1993). This definition personalizes knowledge by suggesting that everybody is a personal store of knowledge which is gained through experience, training and informal networks of colleagues and friends whom we seek whenever we want to explore an opportunity or solve a problem. This is a more practical definition and in my opinion, its most important aspect is that intrinsic knowledge can be transformed into other manifestation.
This is primarily because we get things done and succeed by knowing an answer or knowing someone who does. However, this definition is more oriented on knowledge itself rather than knowledge management.
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