Knowledge management is a set of systematic actions that organizations can take to obtain the greatest value from the knowledge available to it (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Systematic means that knowledge management is made up of intentional actions in an organizational context. Value means that knowledge management is measured according to how knowledge management projects contribute to increased organizational ability (see for example Prieto & Gutiérrez, 2001; see Goldkuhl & Braf, 2002, on the subject of organizational ability). The motivation for knowledge management is that the key to competitive advantage for organizations in today’s business world is organizations’ ability to manage knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Knowledge management as an intentional and value-adding action is not easy to accomplish in practice (Scarbrough & Swan, 1999). Scarbrough and Swan (1999) present several case studies in knowledge management, successful and unsuccessful in their respective knowledge management projects. A major point and lessons learned from the case studies is that prevalent approaches in knowledge management overstate technology and understate how technology is implemented and applied. To succeed with knowledge management, encompassing development of information technology-based information system, some requirements have to be fulfilled. An important aspect in the development process is system acceptance. Implementation is at large a process of acceptance. Implementation is the process where the system becomes an integrated part of the users’ or workers’ work practice. Therefore implementation is essential to make a knowledge management project successful in order attain an increased organizational ability and to succeed with knowledge management.
Work in knowledge management has a tendency to omit social or technological aspects by taking on one of two perspectives on knowledge management, the anthropocentric or the technocratic view (Sveiby, 2001; Swan, 1999). The anthropocentric and the technocratic views represent two contradictory views on knowledge management and can be summarized as technology can or technology cannot. The gap between the anthropocentric and technocratic view depends on a difference of opinions concerning the notion of knowledge. The technocratic view conceives knowledge to be some organized collection of data and information, and the anthropocentric view conceives knowledge to reside in humans, not in the collection (Churchman, 1971; Meredith & Burstein, 2000). Our conception of knowledge is that of the anthropocentric view. Taking on an anthropocentric view on knowledge management does not mean that we discard knowledge management technologies; we rather take on a balanced view on the subject. Information technology can support knowledge management in an organization through a number of different technological components, for example intranets, extranets, data warehouses, and database management systems (Borghoff & Pareschi, 1998; Tiwana, 2000; Ericsson & Avdic, 2002). The point in taking on an anthropocentric view of knowledge management is not to lose sight of the knower who gives meaning to the information and data found in IT-based knowledge management systems.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Anthropocentric View of Knowledge: Knowledge resides in humans.
Knowledge Management: The name given to the set of systematic actions that an organization can take to obtain the greatest value from the knowledge available to it.
Knowledge: Knowledge is personal and talked about and may thus be public and shared among a group of people who have a common frame of reference, providing means for people to make sense of and apply knowledge in practice.
Knowledge Management Systems: Typically, directive systems developed to manage knowledge directly or indirectly to give support for an improved quality of a decision made in workers’ daily work, and as an extension, an increased organizational ability.