Knowledge Management and IT Research and Analysis Firms: Agenda-Setters, Oracles and Judges

Knowledge Management and IT Research and Analysis Firms: Agenda-Setters, Oracles and Judges

Krzysztof Klincewicz (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-176-6.ch010
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The chapter discusses the role of IT Research & Analysis firms in the diffusion of knowledge management. The research is based on content analysis of reports and research notes concerning knowledge management, issued by the most influential analyst firm Gartner in years 1997-2003. It identifies three predominant roles of analysts: agenda-setters (focusing the public discourse on selected issues), oracles (offering ambiguous promises) and judges (selecting concepts, technologies and vendors). While critically evaluating the influence of IT Research & Analysis firms, the chapter documents important passages in the history of knowledge management.
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The chapter presents a critical perspective on knowledge management, analyzing the involvement of IT Research & Analysis companies in promotion and subsequent rejection of the approach to organizational IT-enabled changes. Literature emphasizes the rhetorical aspects of recommendations and points to fundamental errors in knowledge management initiatives (Fahey, Prusak 1998; Nonaka, Reinmöller 2001). Dramatic changes in the adoption of this approach can also be interpreted using the model of management fashions (Abrahamson 1991; Kieser 1996; Czarniawska, Joerges 1996; Swanson, Ramiller 1997). Faced with the stunning popularity of knowledge management, consulting firms and software vendors started re-branding solutions and services, previously offered under other „labels”. They were joining the bandwagon since 1996, but later modified their marketing literature once again as soon as the concept lost its commercial appeal around 2001 (Klincewicz 2006). The inherent „interpretative flexibility” of knowledge management opened opportunities for its incommensurable interpretations by various professional communities (Swan, Robertson 2001). Management ideas diffuse through translations into objects and institutions (Czarniawska, Joerges 1996), and the original concepts may acquire new meanings in this process.

Management fashion arena brings together multiple parties, deriving commercial or other interests from promoting the fashion (Kieser 1996), among them: book authors, consultants, academics, software vendors, website owners, conference organizers, publishers and headhunters. The chapter focuses on a selected group of players in the arena: IT Research & Analysis (IT R&A) firms such as Gartner, IDC or Forrester Research. They monitor and interpret industry events and trends. Even though often perceived as „the voices of independent reason, interpretation and analysis” (Franson 1997), their interpretative activities can also make sense of technologies, establish markets and create new value (Swanson 2000). As the research will demonstrate, they played an underestimated role in defining the concept of knowledge management, promoting related technology solutions and re-defining the market several years later to trigger the abandonment of the knowledge management theme by IT vendors and customers.

The chapter discusses revenues streams and scope of activities of IT R&A firms, as well as differences from traditional market research and consulting firms. It outlines their difficulties in balancing between two sometimes contradictory tasks. IT R&A firms serve the general public by publishing impartial technology and market reports, including quantitative forecasts and vendor evaluations. The reports are used by technology customers as „shopping lists”, and by the financial community as indicators of potential future investments (Franson 1997). At the same time, IT R&A firms work closely on consulting or copywriting assignments with individual customers - technology companies, which are at the same time evaluated in published reports (Konicki 2001). The arising ethical dilemma is parallel to experiences of the investment banking industry, especially as IT R&A firms cannot actually be held accountable for their predictions and recommendations.

The case of knowledge management popularity seems particularly well-suited for the analysis. The concept has multiple interpretations, is very popular but promoted in incommensurable ways by diverse professional communities. The analysis helps identify direct influences of IT Research & Analysis firms, contributing to the conceptual „buzz”.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Management Fashion: A concept describing swings in popularity of specific management techniques and of related management bestsellers, approaches to organizational change, consulting services and software solutions. Management fashions differ from management theories as they are centered around pseudo-scientific concepts, usually promoted by consultants and summarized with buzzwords.

IT Research & Analysis Firms: Analyst firms specializing in high-technology markets. They analyze technological developments, forecast market sizes, evaluate products and help clients understand product innovations.

Agenda-Setting: Attaching relatively more attention to selected topics in public discourse. For example, journalists may not effectively convince the public opinion what to think, but as agenda-setters they can suggest what to think about.

Framing: Selecting some aspects of perceived reality and making them more salient in the communicated message, so that particular interpretations or evaluations are inclined.

Enactment: Emphasizing selected aspects of reality, making these aspects meaningful for other people and thus inducing their actions. The enacted reality is changed through these sense-making processes.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Chapter 1
Davydd J. Greenwood
This chapter questions the clarity of the concepts of “knowledge society” and “knowledge-intensive organization”. In particular, the author asserts... Sample PDF
Are Research Universities Knowledge-Intensive Learning Organizations?
Chapter 2
Juha Kettunen
The aims of knowledge management are to create knowledge and stimulate innovation. Knowledge management allows the knowledge of an organization to... Sample PDF
Construction of Knowledge-Intensive organizations in Higher Education
Chapter 3
Jeff Gold, Richard Thorpe
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is usually conceived as a planned and formulated process for individual members of professional... Sample PDF
Collective CPD: Professional Learning in a Law Firm
Chapter 4
Paul Trott, Andreas Hoecht
The United States and European economies have witnessed an enormous increase in the amount of specialized business services, which now provide... Sample PDF
Innovation Risks of Outsourcing within Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS)
Chapter 5
Lars Steiner
A new knowledge management perspective and tool, ANT/AUTOPOIESIS, for analysis of knowledge management in knowledge-intensive organizations is... Sample PDF
Actor-Network Theory and Autopoiesis: A New Perspective on Knowledge Management
Chapter 6
Jo A. Tyler, David M. Boje
This chapter fits the theme, the interplay between creativity and control in organizations. Story is often claimed to be a way to elicit tacit... Sample PDF
Sorting the Relationship of Tacit Knowledge to Story and Narrative Knowing
Chapter 7
Louise Grisoni
The central discussion in this chapter is that poetry can be used to provide a bridge between tangible, rational and explicit knowledge and tacit or... Sample PDF
Exploring Organizational Learning and Knowledge Exchange through Poetry
Chapter 8
Ester Barinaga
“How do we define our project goal?” “How are we going to coordinate our independent national studies?” “Who is responsible for what?” “How are... Sample PDF
Vagueness: The Role of Language in the Organizing Process of Knowledge Intensive Work
Chapter 9
Stephen Sheard
In this chapter the author offers an argument towards the resurgence of a proto-alphabetic imagination in electronic and mobile communications. It... Sample PDF
Tyranny of the Eye? The Resurgence of the Proto-Alphabetic Sensibility in Contemporary Electronic Modes of Media (PC/Mobile Telephony); and its Significance for the Status of Knowledge
Chapter 10
Krzysztof Klincewicz
The chapter discusses the role of IT Research & Analysis firms in the diffusion of knowledge management. The research is based on content analysis... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management and IT Research and Analysis Firms: Agenda-Setters, Oracles and Judges
Chapter 11
Fatima Guadamillas-Gomez, Mario J. Donate-Manzanares
This chapter analyses the implementation of knowledge management strategies (KMS) in technologyintensive firms. Firstly, a review of KMS in the... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management Strategies Implementation in Innovation Intensive Firms
Chapter 12
Arla Juntunen
This chapter focuses on the development of the Knowledge Management (KM) platform, and, more generally, the knowledge- and resource based view (RBV)... Sample PDF
Developing a Corporate Knowledge Management Platform in a Multibusiness Company
Chapter 13
Jonathan D. Owens
Success in new product development (NPD) can be considered a general aim for any company wishing to survive in the 21st Century. It has been found... Sample PDF
Modeling the New Product Development Process: The Value of a Product Development Process Model Approach as a Means for Business Survival in the 21st Century
Chapter 14
Anders Örtenblad
The ambition of this chapter is to pay some attention to more obvious, as well as more subtle, methods for organizations to become independent of... Sample PDF
Achieving Organizational Independence of Employees' Knowledge Using Knowledge Management, Organizational Learning, and the Learning Organization
Chapter 15
Angelo Ditillo
Knowledge-intensive firms are composed of various communities, each characterized by specialized knowledge. These communities operate as critical... Sample PDF
Balancing Stability and Innovation in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: The Role of Management Control Mechanisms
Chapter 16
Aino Kianto, Jianzhong Hong
Nowadays knowledge and competencies are the key productive factors, and the organizational capability for continuous learning, development and... Sample PDF
The Knowledge-Based Approach to Organizational Measurement: Exploring the Future of Organizational Assessment
Chapter 17
Vidar Hepsø
In knowledge management literature, common information spaces (CIS) are believed to be instrumental in the development and sharing of knowledge.... Sample PDF
Common Information Spaces in Knowledge-Intensive Work: Representation and Negotiation of Meaning in Computer-Supported Collaboration Rooms
Chapter 18
Agnieszka Postula
This chapter presents and discusses two factors – creativity and control – which correspond to every organizational reality. IT specialists’... Sample PDF
Creativitiy and Control in IT Professionals' Communities
Chapter 19
Patrocinio Zaragoza-Saez, Enrique Claver-Cortes, Diego Quer-Ramon
Knowledge is one of the basic production factors owned by enterprises, and knowledge management is one of the main dynamic capabilities on which... Sample PDF
A Qualitative Study of Knowledge Management: The Multinational Firm Point of View
Chapter 20
Cliff Bowan, Pauline Gleadle
The chapter addresses a central dilemma from the viewpoint of dynamic capabilities and the resource based view of the firm: how to manage creativity... Sample PDF
Culture as a Dynamic Capability: The Case of 3M in the United Kingdom
Chapter 21
Maria E. Burke
The purpose of this chapter is to consider an original way of improving Knowledge Management relationships. This is done within the context of an... Sample PDF
Cultural Issues, Organizations and Information Fulfillment: An Exploration Towards Improved Knowledge Management Relationships
Chapter 22
Darius Mehri
The author worked in the research and design department at a large Toyota company in the late 1990s and experienced an innovative process where... Sample PDF
Engineering Design at a Toyota Company: Knowledge Management and the Innovative Process
Chapter 23
Federica Ricceri, James Guthrie
The shift towards a knowledge based economy is at the core of the debate of contemporary management and accounting literature and organisations are... Sample PDF
Critical Analysis of International Guidelines for the Management of Knowledge Resources
Chapter 24
Christiane Prange
Internationalization has accelerated the speed of knowledge generation and innovation. Thus, companies increasingly need to pool and create new... Sample PDF
Strategic Alliance Capability: Bridging the Individual Back into Inter-Organizational Collaboration
Chapter 25
Meryem Sevinc, Lawrence Locker, John D. Murray
In the contemporary context of knowledge discovery, the amount of information and the process itself has increased in complexity. Relevant to the... Sample PDF
Automation vs. Human Intervention: Is There any Room Left for the Analyst in the Data Mining Process?
Chapter 26
Joanna Shih
The hi-tech firms that predominate in Silicon Valley contain a large proportion of knowledge workers—employees with high levels of education and... Sample PDF
Temporality and Knowledge Work
Chapter 27
Alice MacGilivray
Knowledge management is often associated with the need for change and related shifts in ontologies, ways of knowing and ways of working. Combine the... Sample PDF
Knowledge Intensive Work in a Network of Counter-Terrorism Communities
Chapter 28
Tatiana Andreeva
Contemporary literature usually views knowledge creation and knowledge sharing as either independent or positively related processes. However, based... Sample PDF
Tensions between Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Sharing: Individual Preferences of Employees in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations
Chapter 29
Steffen Boehm, Chris Land
Knowledge is implicitly assumed to form an increasingly important, or even the dominant source of values for today’s knowledge based organizations.... Sample PDF
The 'Value' of Knowledge: Reappraising Labour in the Post-Industrial Economy
Chapter 30
Alexander Styhre
This chapter discusses the use of media in knowledge-intensive organizations. Media is defined here as the integration of technologies, practices... Sample PDF
New Media and Knowledge Work
Chapter 31
Ben Tran
This chapter examines knowledge and innovation as invaluable factors affecting the longevity of large organizations. It presents the history and... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management: The Construction of Knowledge in Organizations
Chapter 32
Premilla D’Cruz, Ernesto Noronha
Scholars researching the area of the sociology of professions had earlier predicted that as occupations seek to improve their public image... Sample PDF
Redefining Professional: The Case of India's Call Center Agents
Chapter 33
Dariusz Jemielniak, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz
Knowledge management and knowledge-intensive work are two of today’s hot buzzwords, though both already have a history of managerial usage. While... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management: Fad or Enduring Organizational Concept?
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