The Management of Knowledge Risks: What Do We Really Know?

The Management of Knowledge Risks: What Do We Really Know?

Susanne Durst, Guido Bruns, Thomas Henschel
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5481-3.ch013
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The purpose of this paper is to review extant research on knowledge risk management (KRM) to establish our body of knowledge and to identify gaps justifying further research activities. The study is based on a systematic review of peer reviewed empirical and conceptual articles on the management of knowledge risks. This proceeding proves evidence that there are a small number of papers addressing knowledge risks and its management. The recommendations derived from the findings can assist researchers, managers and consultants to better understand the critical importance of integrating KRM in the firms' enterprise risk management. This increased understanding can particularly be useful for managers as better decisions will be possible.
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Shorter product life cycles, greater demands of consumers, increased demand for knowledge-intensive products and services, and the necessity of constant market observation make the business environment a rather complex one (Wiig, 1997), one that is characterized not only by a number of opportunities but also by a number of different risks (Kumar, 2002). Regarding the latter companies are required to have a proper and comprehensive risk management approach in order to cope with these risks. This approach should be able to handle both traditional risks (such as currency risk, customer default risk) as well as knowledge risks, i.e. those risks that are related to knowledge practices or that are the results of them. Given the increased importance knowledge has gained over the years, one would argue that the management of knowledge risks should have received great attention. Based on the underlying assumption of enterprise risk management, which assumes the integration and coordination of all types of risks across the entire organization (Razali & Tahir, 2011); the management of knowledge risks, i.e. Knowledge Risk Management (KRM), should take a fundamental role sure. In fact, calls for broader and more integrative approaches have been made and increased over the years (Kallenberg, 2009). KRM is a systematic process of applying tools and techniques to identify, analyze and respond to risks associated with the creation, application and retention of organizational knowledge. In this context for entrepreneurs and owner-managers it is fundamental that they understand the business in which they operate in order to identify and manage risks (Jafari, Rezaeenour, Mazdeh, & Hooshmandi, 2011), as otherwise they can hardly cope with the organization’s overall risk exposure.

While the study of risk management can be considered an established one (Alhawari, Karadsheh, Talet, & Mansoura, 2012), this is surprisingly not the case with KRM (Trkman & Desouza, 2012; Lee, Suh, & Lee, 2014). Given the new emphasis of the ISO 9001:2015 on knowledge and risk management, KRM however could gain in importance very soon.

Against this background the purpose of the paper is to gain an understanding of how extant literature has addressed the management of knowledge risks so far. Based on the results of the review, promising areas for the study of KRM in private organizations are derived.

The paper is structured as follows: The next section briefly presents the background of the paper, before the methodology of the literature review is outlined. Then the findings are presented. The paper terminates with the conclusion.

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