The necessity for managing knowledge is stressed by wide array of recent publications ranging from information science to strategic management substantiating their proposition with the tremendous changes in the context organisations that are operating today. Although knowledge management (KM) literature and research projects are increasingly extending their attention from intra-organisational to inter-organisational aspects (e.g., Seufert, Back, & van Krogh, 2000; Alpar & Kalmring, 2001; Schmaltz & Hagenhof, 2003 ), the question of how inter-organisational knowledge management can be realised is up to now not sufficiently answered (Carlsson, 2003). That is even more true for virtual enterprises, as the following specific characteristics need to be considered: short-term focus; focus on information and communication technology; decentralised information systems; and distributed ownership. As a solution approach catering for the issues mentioned above, a prototype of a system called “selfmodelling knowledge networks” is introduced. Self-modelling knowledge networks could provide a mechanism that facilitates flexible knowledge retrieval across several nodes in networked and virtual enterprises. Thus, this approach is ideally suited for situations where knowledge resources need to be combined in a flexible way and several levels of the network are comprised.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Knowledge Management System (KMS): KMS describes information systems that are designed to support certain KM processes like the dissemination or application of knowledge.
Ontology: Ontology is defined as “(…) an explicit specification of a conceptualization” according to (Gruber, 1993) and describes basic terms and concepts within a certain domain as well as the relationship between those concepts.
Self-Modelling Knowledge Networks: Self-modelling Knowledge Networks describe a decentralised system without central servers comprising nodes with the capability to save data, receive and send demands in order to support inter-organisational KM.
Knowledge: Knowledge is defined, according to Steinmüller (1993), as the combination or connection of information.
Peer-to-Peer: Per-to-Peer (P2P) in this context refers to a network architecture consisting of nodes mutually sharing information and function
Knowledge Worker/Work: Knowledge work refers to work conducted by knowledge workers. That is work that comprises to a large extent the tasks of retrieving, evaluating, integrating and creating knowledge.
Inter-Organisational Knowledge Management: Inter-organisational Knowledge Management refers to a specific occurrence of knowledge management comprising basic knowledge management processes between two or more independent organisations.
Knowledge Management: Knowledge Management (KM) “(…) refers to the critical issues of organizational adaptation, survival and competence against discontinuous environmental change. Essentially it embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.” (Malhotra, 2005)