Knowledge Management Essay

5039 words - 21 pages

Essay on Knowledge Management.This essay will attempt to illustrate Knowledge Management theories provided by researchers and give evidence on how organisations attempt to utilise these theories to gain a competitive advantage in order to critically appraise the following statement: "Despite the widely recognised importance of knowledge as a vital source of competitive advantage, there is little understanding of how organisations actually create and manage knowledge dynamically" (Nonaka et al 2000).Knowledge management (KM) is emerging as the new discipline that provides the mechanisms for systematically managing the knowledge that evolves with the enterprise. Most large organisations have ...view middle of the document...

Most literature on KM classifies knowledge into two main categories: explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge can be defined as things that are clearly stated or defined, while tacit knowledge can be defined as things that are not expressed openly, but implied (Choo 2000, Bloodgood and Salisbury 2001, Carvalho and Ferreira 2001, Herschel et al., 2001).Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be seen, shared and communicated with others. For example, a business's strategic planning report can be circulated within the organisation in any appropriate form and the employees can read and execute the plan. Explicit knowledge can be the business plan, the level of sales, product design, marketing reports and so on. They can be in electronic or paper form, they can be mathematical formulae or they can exist as diagrams.Tacit knowledge on the other hand is that which is embedded in a person's memory and which is difficult to extract and share with others. For example, how a senior manager uses a particular decision theory to solve certain problems. The knowledge of "how-to solve the problem" is actually the manager's ability, knowledge and skill.While the techniques for problem solving can be learnt in the classroom, how they are used in a particular solution is a personal skill and the solution created by one employee will differ from that of another. These variations are attributable to the differences in the tacit knowledge.Explicit knowledge can be managed more easily because it exists in a tangible form such as: books, manuals, handbooks and so on, which facilitate communications (Choo 2000) although tacit knowledge can also be managed if it can be converted into explicit knowledge. Knowledge conversion can be achieved through the processes of: socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). For example, through socialisation a manager can learn the tacit secrets of conducting market research from a senior manager (tacit to tacit). Through externalisation, the manager can then translate these secrets into explicit knowledge (tacit to explicit) and communicate it to subordinates (explicit to explicit). The subordinates then standardise this knowledge and put it into a marketing report. Finally, through internalisation, experience gained from conducting market research, enriches the manager's own tacit knowledge base.In relation to the statement made by Nonaka et al (2000) there is a recognition of the theories behind knowledge conversion and it easy to obtain these theories from books and mediums like the internet however, there is little evidence to be found of practical applications, or indeed evidence of any success stories in relation to organisational learning.With regard to learning, another driver of knowledge management that comes directly from economics, and more directly from practitioners, is how to account for significant performance variation. Why is it that organisations...

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