Knowledge Management Processes: Storing, Searching and Sharing Knowledge in Practice

Knowledge Management Processes: Storing, Searching and Sharing Knowledge in Practice

Päivi Haapalainen (University of Vaasa, Finland) and Kirsi Pusa (University of Vaasa, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/jisss.2012070102
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Abstract

Knowledge management includes several processes, e.g., knowledge creation, knowledge storing, sharing, and using knowledge. When these processes run smoothly, an organization can confirm that information is available for users whenever needed. This is essential for organizations that sell knowledge based services. However, often these processes are not as effective as they could be. In this article the authors concentrate on the following knowledge management processes: storing, searching, and sharing knowledge. The purpose of the research was to find out the different kind of practices companies use for these processes and how information technology can help companies produce these processes more effective. This paper includes the theoretical background of knowledge management and its processes as well as the results of an empirical benchmarking research done among medium sized and large organizations in knowledge intensive businesses.
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Knowledge Management

There are several different definitions for ’knowledge’ and ’knowledge management.’ Also ‘knowledge management processes’ can be defined in various ways. Some of these definitions are introduced in this chapter to provide background for the empirical study. The definitions used in this research are presented.

Knowledge

Knowledge is justified true belief” is one of the most quoted definitions of knowledge by Nonaka (1994). Nonaka’s definition is based on the approach of the Western philosophy. Berger and Luckmann (1972) on the other hand see knowledge as a set of shared beliefs that are constructed through social interactions and embedded within the social contexts in which knowledge is created. This definition emphasizes the social dimension of knowledge: knowledge is created by people interaction and it always has a context.

The terms data, information, and knowledge are often clearly distinguished. Davenport and Prusak (1998) see knowledge as something individual: “it originates and is applied in the minds of knowers” but also say that “it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories but also in organizational routines, processes, practices and norms”. Along their lines “data is a set of discrete, objective facts about events”; Information is a message with a sender and a receiver and it is meant to have an impact on the judgment and behavior of the receiver. Finally, they define knowledge as “a fluid mix of frame experiences, values, con-textual information and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information.

Also Liebowitz (2005) makes a separation between data, information, and knowledge in his knowledge framework. He says that data are discerned elements and they are turned into information when they are processed and patterned in some way. When information turns actionable, it is transformed into knowledge. Bhatt (2001) defines knowledge to be meaningful information. Knowledge derives from information. What makes the difference between data and information is their organization and what makes the difference between information and knowledge is the interpretation. Also Russ, Fineman, and Jones (2010, pp. 2-5) have a similar definitions.

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) state that the difference between knowledge and information lies in three things: “First of all, knowledge, unlike information, is about beliefs and commitment. Secondly, knowledge, unlike information, is about action. And thirdly, knowledge, unlike information, is about meaning.

Kogut and Zander (1992), however, connect knowledge and information in a different way. They define knowledge both as information and know-how. According to Kogut and Zander (1992) “know-how is the accumulated practical skill or expertise that allows one to do something smoothly and efficiently”. Information on the other hand, “implies knowing what something means.

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