Accountability and Ethics in Knowledge Management

Accountability and Ethics in 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)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-140-7.ch007
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to argue the case that the study of Knowledge Management should embrace considerations of ethics and accountability. Knowledge Management—a relatively new discipline—is often seen as a necessary but benign component of any modern business organization. This chapter suggests that underlying modern notions of knowledge management are the far older practices comprising the management of knowledge prevalent in most spheres of human activity. Many of these are political in nature, and distort and manipulate knowledge to achieve ends which may include criminal activity and fraud, but often merely serve to further the aims of organizational actors. The discipline called Knowledge Management has much to learn from the ancient art of the management of knowledge.
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In science, knowledge is an unmixed good; in ethics and politics it is bad as well as good

John Gray (2003)

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Why Km Research And Practice Needs An Accountability Dimension, Accountability, And Ethics

Ethics relates to codes of conduct regarded by a community as ‘right’ and ‘good’. They may be based on notions of morality or values. They may be faith based, determined by rules of proper conduct laid down by some higher authority. As such, we note the conflicts that can arise where values clash or rules differ. Ethical principles are rarely the subject of absolute standards. Nevertheless, conforming to ethical standards does require some consensus at least within defined communities such as those represented by professional associations. Some communities consider ethics sufficiently important to subject their activities to scrutiny by an ethics committee, which may operate on a mandatory basis with legal sanctions against those who flout its rulings. Others work on the basis of voluntary agreement. The medical profession has led the way in being subjected to mandatory ethical audits as well as voluntary agreements.

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