The Value of Virtual Networks for Knowledge Management: A Tool for Practical Development

The Value of Virtual Networks for Knowledge Management: A Tool for Practical Development

Cesar Camison (Universitat Jaume I, Spain), Carlos Devece (Universitat Jaume I, Spain), Daniel Palacios (Universitat Jaume I, Spain) and Carles Camisón-Haba (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-070-7.ch009
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In this chapter we describe a practical tool useful to managing knowledge in the firm. It has already been introduced and tested in several firms and we have obtained good conclusions about its performance. In this chapter, we combine the modules of the software application with the theoretical functions of Knowledge Management principles. We also develop a list of indicators to measure the effect of implementing SoftKnow in a firm. This is useful to have an economic impact of the introduction of a practical tool based on Knowledge Management. After reading this chapter we think the managers’ perceptions of this type of tool will change, since they will able to assimilate all the impacts and applications of the tool.
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Knowledge Economy: Challenges For Company Competitiveness

In the era of business transition, the effective management of knowledge is proposed as a strategy that exploits organizational intangible assets. Knowledge management (KM) with no doubt could be considered as one of the hottest research topics of the past decade (Kalpic and Bernues, 2006: 40), the birth of KM, which occurred in the early 1990s, grew from recognition of how difficult is to deal with complexity in an environment of ever increasing competition spurred by technology and the demands of sophisticated customers.

“Advance towards the knowledge society is unstoppable, verified by the emergence of knowledge workers. As just one example, during the XX century in USA, knowledge workers, defined as employees working mainly with information - managers, salesmen, clerks, professionals, technicians - have increased from 17% to 59%, while, at the same time, blue-collar workers have dropped from 83% to 31%. Thomas Stewart (1997), editor of Fortune, places the historic point of inflection in 1991, when, for the first time, investment by US firms in information technologies exceeded investment in production plants and equipment.” (Camisón, 2000: 1)

It is not surprising that knowledge has become the main factor in value creation modern society. However, knowledge is by no means an unknown variable, as it has always been present in firms and in economic activities. Intelligence, understanding, talent, skills and learning have always been essential components in innovation and success. Just as an anecdote, Aristotle Onassis rightly said that “the secret of any business is to know something that nobody else knows”.

While knowledge has been identified as the competitive advantage of the future, its widespread bad management is worrying. McKinsey’s recent study among 6000 executives in 77 firms shows that knowledge and skills are the worst managed assets in organizations. Only 23% of the executives stated that their firms got to attract talented managers, and only 10% got to retain the best professionals. The waste of the knowledge owned by organizations has a direct affect on costs, as it can lead to duplicating tasks or repeating past failures (which could be avoided by simply using experience learned in the past), wasting the time and money invested. The expression “reinvent the wheel” perfectly illustrates the absurdity of this behaviour. Concerning this poor use of knowledge, we might mention studies demonstrating that between 20% and 30% of firms’ resources of are squandered on “reinventing the wheel”; or as Lew Platt, executive of Hewlett Packard, said: “If we knew what we know, we would be three times more profitable,” (Boshyk, 1999: 7). This perception leads to the statement that only the tip of the iceberg (one eleventh) of human talent is managed. The rest of the knowledge, still “under water”, is the great challenge, the copious source of value creation.

David Skyrme, co-author of the study Creation of the firm based on knowledge, considers that no big firm has effective information management or widespread Knowledge Management practices. There is a poor capitalization of ideas and creativity, and knowledge is lost in staff turnover, as well as unexploited knowledge assets. Some firms even buy expert services they already possess simply because they are not informed about what they know. In fact, CIO Magazine recently said that the participants in the knowledge economy presently are probably a minority of companies rich in knowledge and in knowledge experts, as opposed to a large majority of companies whose Knowledge Management is so awkward that they need help to enter this battle.

The effective introduction of Knowledge Management in organizations raises a series of diverse problems (Rastogi, 2000; Dibella and Nevis, 1998; Revilla, 1996). In summary, the reasons that make Knowledge Management so difficult to implement are conceptual, organizational, cultural and technological.

The management of knowledge is difficult, first, because of the complexity and inaccessibility of knowledge itself as an asset. Unlike tangible assets, intangible assets based on knowledge present problems of identification and representation, heightened when the knowledge is so fragmented that it is not known where it resides, or when the knowledge is so complex that it is practically inaccessible.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations
Chapter 1
Fernando Garrigos
This chapter presents the interrelationships between professional virtual communities and social networks, and analyzes how, and in what ways, these... Sample PDF
Interrelationships Between Professional Virtual Communities and Social Networks, and the Importance of Virtual Communities in Creating and Sharing Knowledge
Chapter 2
Luis V. Casaló
The rapid growth of virtual communities has created a new interest in researchers. Indeed, understanding these communities is especially relevant... Sample PDF
The Role of Trust, Satisfaction, and Communication in the Development of Participation in Virtual Communities
Chapter 3
Cesar Camison
Organisations are finding it more difficult to keep abreast with the pace of change. The continuous rise of business opportunities and the increase... Sample PDF
Can Virtual Networks Encourage Knowledge Absorptive Capacity?
Chapter 4
Montserrat Boronat Navarro
In this study we adopt an inter-organizational view to examine virtual organizations. Thus, we understand this phenomenon as a strategic agreement... Sample PDF
Knowledge Integration Through Inter-Organizational Virtual Organizations
Chapter 5
Mark E. Nissen
In today’s increasingly networked world of organizational practice, information and computer technologies are enabling people and organizations to... Sample PDF
Visualizing Knowledge Networks and Flows to Enhance Organizational Metacognition in Virtual Organizations
Chapter 6
Eduardo Bueno Campos
The aim of this chapter is to deepen the concept of ‘Communities of Practice’ (CoPs) from the understanding of a reference framework for knowledge... Sample PDF
Model on Knowledge-Governance: Collaboration Focus and Communities of Practice
Chapter 7
Josep Capó-Vicedo
This chapter highlights the necessity of establishing relationships with other companies and external agents in order to empower the creation and... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management in SMEs Clusters
Chapter 8
Raquel Sanchis
This chapter presents a general overview of the relationships between information and communications technologies (ITCs) and the process of... Sample PDF
Tools for Supporting Knowledge Management: Knowledge Internalization Through E-Learning
Chapter 9
Cesar Camison, Carlos Devece, Daniel Palacios, Carles Camisón-Haba
In this chapter we describe a practical tool useful to managing knowledge in the firm. It has already been introduced and tested in several firms... Sample PDF
The Value of Virtual Networks for Knowledge Management: A Tool for Practical Development
Chapter 10
M. Eugenia Fabra, Cesar Camison
Companies are increasingly conscious of the fact that the achieving of their objectives, together with the improvement of their competitive... Sample PDF
Human Capital and E-Learning: Developing Knowledge Through Virtual Networks
Chapter 11
Júlio Da Costa Mendes
This chapter looks to analyse new paradigms in the relationship between public and private organisations towards tourism destinations. It proposes... Sample PDF
The Development of Knowledge and Information Networks in Tourism Destinations
Chapter 12
E. Claver-Cortés
Government agencies are being pressed to become more efficient. For this reason, e-government strategies result from the expectations from society... Sample PDF
E-Government Challenges: Barriers and Facilitators in Spanish City Councils
Chapter 13
Hindupur Ramakrishna
The chapter presents a conceptual framework that identifies technological and organizational factors that impact the success of business analytics... Sample PDF
Business Analytics Success: A Conceptual Framework and an Application to Virtual Organizing
Chapter 14
Andrew Targowski
This chapter provides theoretical analysis and synthesis of how computer applications are applied in problem-solving and decision-making in practice... Sample PDF
The Evolution from Data to Wisdom in Decision-Making at the Level of Real and Virtual Networks
Chapter 15
Editor Conclusions  (pages 278-279)
Cesar Camison
The study of virtual organizations encompasses several research fields, and the variables involved in each of them are sometimes closely related.... Sample PDF
Editor Conclusions
Chapter 16
Andrew P. Sage, Cynthia T. Small
This chapter describes a complex adaptive systems (CAS)-based enterprise knowledge-sharing (KnS) model. The CAS-based enterprise KnS model consists... Sample PDF
A Complex Adaptive Systems-Based Enterprise Knowledge Sharing Model
Chapter 17
James G. Williams, Kai A. Olsen
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 opened competition in the telecommunications market in the U.S. and forced the incumbent telecommunications... Sample PDF
Developing a Telecommunication Operation Support Systems (OSS): The Impact of a Change in Network Technology
Chapter 18
Tor Guimaraes
Emerging agent-based systems offer new means of effectively addressing complex decision processes and enabling solutions to business requirements... Sample PDF
Enabling the Virtual Organization with Agent Technology
Chapter 19
Jens Gammelgaard
In geographically dispersed organizations, like multinational corporations (MNCs), contextual gaps exist between senders and receivers of knowledge.... Sample PDF
Virtual Communities of Practice: A Mechanism for Efficient Knowledge Retrieval in MNCs
About the Contributors