Developing an effective Knowledge Management System

Developing an effective Knowledge Management System

Stephen McLaughlin (National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch205

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Introduction

Managing knowledge ‘capture’, ‘creation’ and ‘transfer’ is vitally important to successful innovative organizations (Nonaka et al., 1995), indeed knowledge itself is recognised as an important component of value creation and competitive advantage (King et al., 2003). Therefore, the development of a knowledge management system becomes a vital part in the successful management of an organization’s knowledge assets (Corso et al., 2006).

However, many organizations tend to develop their knowledge management systems from their existing IT strategy (McDermott, 1999). In essence the knowledge management system becomes an extension or expansion of the existing IT infrastructure (Johannessen et al., 2001). This approach may not necessarily be bad for the organization, and it certainly is not new (Alavi, 2000: Bowman, 2002) but in general a failure to consider how knowledge, in particular tacit knowledge, is created, shared and utilised, as opposed to simply focusing on how explicit knowledge is created, shared, and stored may seriously impact an organizations ability to innovate and build a competitive advantage.

Therefore, in order to improve and encourage innovation an organization must understand how knowledge is created, shared, and utilised across the entire organization. In order to do this organization’s must take a proactive approach in developing their knowledge management system, and resist the temptation to simply let it emerge from existing IT systems. Through this proactive approach the organization should focus on developing an organization wide strategy that looks at managing both knowledge assets and information flows and repositories.

So how then does an organization determine the best system for managing knowledge and information across its business? To do this organizations must consider a number of elements:

  • 1.

    Their knowledge management strategy, not only in terms of technology enablement but also the impact on performance of knowledge sharing / creating practices amongst employees, and how processes are aligned to optimise knowledge creation and transfer.

  • 2.

    The barriers that may exist to knowledge creation and transfer across the organization.

  • 3.

    How information and knowledge moves along core business processes and impacts process performance.

  • 4.

    How core processes are optimised to maximise knowledge creation and transfer along core business processes.

By looking at the inter-connecting relationship between these four aspects of knowledge management the Knowledge Management System Dependency Model (KMSDM) was developed to help organizations better manage their respective knowledge assets.

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