Added Value of Ontologies for Modeling an Organizational Memory

Added Value of Ontologies for Modeling an Organizational Memory

Maria de los Angeles Martin (National University of La Pampa, Argentina) and Luis Olsina (National University of La Pampa, Argentina)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-540-5.ch010
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With the aim to manage and retrieve the organizational knowledge, in the last years numerous proposals of models and tools for knowledge management and knowledge representation have arisen. However, most of them store knowledge in a non-structured or semi-structured way, hindering the semantic and automatic processing of this knowledge. In this chapter the authors specify a case-based organizational memory ontology, which aims at contributing to the design of an organizational memory based on cases so that it can be used to support better decision-making. One ontology goal is to serve as a base for the organizational knowledge exchange with semantic power, which can facilitate the reuse, interoperability, and automatic processing by agents. In addition, the ontology aims to be at a high level from which other more specific representations can be formulated. In order to illustrate its utility a practical case is shown.
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The organizational knowledge management represents a key asset to support decision-making processes by different organizational stakeholders. The main aim of knowledge management systems is to manage, store and retrieve the organizational knowledge, so that it can be used later to learn, share knowledge, solve problems, and ultimately to support better decision-making processes (Conklin, 1996; Dogson, 1993). Therefore by having a well-developed organizational memory that supports the structuring, reusing and processing of organizational knowledge is a primary decision (and likely a success factor) to achieve such an effective management.

Nonaka and Takeuchi have said that an organization cannot create knowledge itself. Conversely, the knowledge creation basis for an organization is the individual’s tacit knowledge; and tacit knowledge is shared through interpersonal interactions (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). In the same direction, Hedberg (1981) has said that an organization does not have brain, but it has cognitive systems and memories. The organizational stakeholders act as the agents of organizational learning, and a link between them and organizational learning systems have to be established.

Therefore, in order to reach and maintain the organizational effectiveness and competitiveness, an organization needs to learn from past and present experiences and lessons learnt and to formalize organizational memories for enabling to make explicit the individual’s tacit knowledge -and why not community’s tacit knowledge as well.

It is worth mentioning that one of the possible classifications of organizational knowledge can be, namely: public/private, explicit/implicit (or tacit), and formal (syntactically and semantically structured)/informal (unstructured). One of the main goals of an organizational knowledge management strategy is to make explicit the individuals’ implicit knowledge, to try to formalize the informal knowledge in order to allow machine-processable semantic inferences, and to make the knowledge public or private depending on the strategic policy at different organization levels.

So far most of the current knowledge management systems capture and store the knowledge in repositories of documents like manuals, memos, and text files systems, and the knowledge transfer is made by means of meetings, courses or by documented manuals and guides. This traditional form of storing and transferring knowledge causes loss of time and high investment in human resources, since it does not consider powerful mechanisms of semantic and automatic processing of knowledge.

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