A Knowledge Process Cycle

A Knowledge Process Cycle

Roy Williams (University of Portsmouth, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-931-1.ch082


Knowledge is defined in many different ways in different cultures (Nonaka, 1994, Burrows et al., 2005), and the question is whether knowledge should be seen: as an object or as meaning, an object or a process, subjective or objective, tacit or explicit, positivist or interpretivist, representationalist or constructivist. The answer to all these questions is: “both, it depends”. Knowledge can be one or more of these things, it depends on the context and the culture. Most writers are agreed that knowledge is a now a key asset, and that managing knowledge is crucial to corporate success (Drucker, 2001a, b). However Spender and Marr (2005, p. 183) write that the “enthusiasm [for] the idea that knowledge has become the most strategic of corporate assets … has not …been matched by an understanding of how to operationalize knowledge … [because it is] a different kind of asset”. The question remains: what is knowledge, in what ways is it “a different kind of asset”, and how can it best be operationalized? The digital global ecology of web2 fundamentally changes the way we need to answer these questions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Commodified Knowledge: Commodified knowledge, or Formal Knowledge is knowledge that is objective; it has been deliberately stripped of context and subjectivity, so that it can be communicated, traded, used and applied by anyone anywhere. It is often expressed in numerical of mathematic form, e.g finance and science.

Ante-Formal Knowledge: Most of our interaction takes place within ante-formal information, from casual conversations to global networks of social software. Ante-formal information can range from the simple to the very complex, but it is knowledge which has not yet been subjected to the rigorous processes of formalisation and abstraction of scientific, bureaucratic, or mathematical procedures.

Knowledge: The capacity for effective action, in terms of this particular knowledge process Cycle (KPC) this equates most generally to Strategic Knowledge. However, all of the components of the KPC (experience, data, ante-formal knowledge, formal knowledge, and strategic knowledge) are interlinked, and are all constituents of knowledge in the broader sense of the term.

Learning: The process of developing new capacity for effective action, that arises from interesting conversations, empirical experiments, and good reflective practice.

Strategic Knowledge: The fit between procedural knowledge and contextual information, and in practice consists of a wide range of ‘fits’ across interlinking contexts: financial, cultural, political, institutional, technical and legal. It also includes complex knowledge, which provides retrospective coherence, and knowledge of emerging properties, as opposed to predictable knowledge.

Knowledge Process Cycle: This particular knowledge process Cycle (KPC) or Knowledge Ecology is an integrated field, which maps out the way the various components of knowledge interact, and link. It is based on the different epistemological requirements of the each of the phases in the generation of knowledge. It includes experience, data, ante-formal knowledge, formal knowledge, strategic knowledge and communities of practitioners, and incorporates both predictable and complex knowledge.

Complex Knowledge: Is knowledge of complex adaptive systems, which do not yield the predictability and control of commodified knowledge. It yields, instead, models and simulations of the way Complex Adaptive Systems and Networks behave. This does yield coherence, but it is retrospective coherence , rather than prospective coherence; emergent properties rather than predictability.

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