The Ethics of Knowledge Management

The Ethics of Knowledge Management

Frank Land (London School of Economics, UK), Urooj Amjad (London School of Economics, UK) and Sevasti-Melissa Nolas (London School of Economics, UK)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/jkm.2007010101
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Abstract

KM motivations and behaviour are intertwined with power relations and the self-interests of engaged actors, including researchers, and where during the design, implementation use and research into KM systems, dilemmas, sometimes explicit, but more often tacit, may affect behaviour. The public discussion around the relationship between business organizations and “social responsibility” is a relatively recent phenomenon. The discussion has been a useful one for reminding business organizations, and government at times, of their position, relationship, and responsibility to a social world beyond their corporate boundaries. In doing so the discussion introduces the concept of accountability which is helpful for thinking about the ethical dimensions relating to KM systems, processes and research. Furthermore, the article draws attention to the distinction between the subject matter of Knowledge Management and the much older topic, not specifically articulated within the IS discipline, of the Management of Knowledge. The latter is more concerned with the manipulation (and often distortion) of knowledge to obtain desired outcome (Land, Amjad & Nolas, 2004). The article draws from examples where the design, implementation, and use of KM systems and processes overlooked questions of accountability — what we have called the dark side of knowledge management (Land, Amjad & Nolas, 2005a, 2005b) and draws on examples from both business organizations and government. The first part of the article establishes why an ethics dimension is necessary in KM theory and practice and the second section identifies questions on how an ethics dimension could be integrated with current KM research and practice.

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