Understanding the Composition of Knowledge Management Capability

Understanding the Composition of Knowledge Management Capability

Ronald Freeze (Arizona State University, USA) and Uday Kulkarni (Arizona State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch113

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Introduction

Knowledge Management (KM), as a discipline, is designed to provide strategy, process, and technology to increase organizational learning (Satyadas, 2001). The importance of Knowledge Management (KM) is succinctly provided in an article titled “If Only We Knew What We Know” (O'Dell, 1998). The predominant KM emphasis has been a system oriented view with a focus on technology applications that range from traditional data-processing areas, such as knowledge enabled supply chain management (SCM) systems, to expert networks designed to facilitate expert-to-expert communication. The various system designs attempt to capture and capitalize on the existing explicit, implicit and, in some cases, tacit knowledge of organizations. This emphasis on technology masks the range of knowledge available in an organization and processes that facilitates the flow of knowledge. Organizations must develop an integrative approach to KM that covers all potential components of knowledge and leverages specific components strategically aligned to their business objectives. In addressing these issues of KM, the authors believe that an organization must move to a more knowledge oriented view and discover “what we know”. This discovery should not be restrictive in the sense of targeting single organizational areas or single systems for improvement, but must encompass the entire organization and strategically map each area of strength and weakness. The authors develop an integrative framework by identifying knowledge assets that encompass all aspects of an organization’s efforts to capture, store, retrieve, and use its knowledge assets.

Prior research has provided elucidation of knowledge assets and frameworks for their development. For example, (King et. al, 2002) identifies four KM application areas - knowledge repositories, lessons learned, expert networks and communities of practice. (Harigopal and Satyadas, 2001) introduced the Cognizant Enterprise Maturity Model - CEMM which identified 15 Key Maturity Areas within an organization to improve business value. Although an adequate start, King does not explicate the measurement necessary to sufficiently describe these application areas as knowledge assets. Conversely, the CEMM constructs and addresses capabilities beyond KM and into business process modeling, business innovation and business integration. Consequently, neither approach covers the diversity of assets or complete the descriptions of the composition of the knowledge assets. Nevertheless, these recent efforts to identify and study various knowledge areas highlight the need for extended organizational research within KM. Through the presentation of the KM framework and knowledge asset description, a more uniform level of abstraction is provided that will increase the level of understanding, and result in an improvement in the monitoring and management of these knowledge assets.

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