Managing Professions for Knowledge Management

Managing Professions for Knowledge Management

Enrico Scarso (University of Padua, Italy) and Ettore Bolisani (University of Padua, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1601-1.ch053
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Abstract

In the last years, Knowledge Management (KM) studies have focused on the foundations of this “new managerial discipline”. Today, there is an increasing need to transform the theoretical speculations into managerial tools, and to find solutions to practical questions concerning daily KM activity. A key issue that still requires investigation regards the management of human resources devoted to KM. The paper analyzes this topic by means of an in-depth investigation of the relevant experience of some leading companies. In particular it examines the problem of managing new roles and tasks for KM, the issue of developing structured KM units, and the question of evaluating KM activities. A discussion of the possible implications for research and management is carried out in the conclusion.
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The Role Of People In Knowledge Management

Setting the grounds of KM as a managerial discipline has proven to be a difficult task that is still challenging researchers and practitioners. This is certainly due to the youth of the field and to the fact that several disciplines are contributing to its development (Baskerville & Dulipovici, 2006). In addition, it is the term knowledge itself that can be confusing. In the KM literature, knowledge is often defined in comparison with the notion of information. According to Holsapple (2003) information consists of data that have been organized for a particular use (i.e. qualities or measures of phenomena or facts, like, for instance, prices, sales, inventories, etc.), while knowledge is a combination of information, ideas, experience and insights that guide actions and decisions. Therefore, although knowledge is based on information, deriving knowledge from information requires human judgment, and is based on context and experience.

According to Holsapple and Joshi (2006), KM can be defined as the deliberate and organized efforts made by individuals or organizations to expand, cultivate and apply available knowledge in ways that can add value to their activity. To put it in a nutshell, KM consists of a set of techniques and tools to make the right knowledge available to the right people in the right moment.

A recent study (Heisig, 2009) aimed at comparing 160 different KM frameworks around the world shows that KM is generally seen as a set of main activities (knowledge creation; knowledge storage; knowledge sharing; and knowledge application) whose effectiveness is based on a proper mix of human, structural, cultural, and managerial factors.

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