BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material
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BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material
Knowledge is increasingly being recognized as the new strategic imperative of organizations. The most established paradigm in that knowledge is power. Therefore, one has to hoard it and keep it to oneself to maintain an advantage. The common attitude of most people is to hold on to one’s knowledge since it is what makes him or her an asset to the organization. Today, knowledge is still considered power – an enormous power in fact – but the understanding has changed considerably, particularly from the perspective of organizations.
In order to comprehend knowledge management, it is necessary to understand first the concept of knowledge. What is knowledge? How is it different from information? And how is information different from mere data?
We begin with data. What is data? Data is a number or word or letter without any context. For example, numbers like 5 or 100, without any context, are mere data. Without reference to either space or time, these numbers or data are meaningless points in space and time. The key phrase here is “out of context”. And since it is out of context then it has no meaningful relation to anything else.
Meaning of Information
A mere collection of data is not information. This means that if there is no relation between the pieces of data, then it is not information. What makes a collection of data information is the understanding of the relationships between the pieces of data o between the collection of data and other information. In other words, what is essential in making data or a collection of data information is the context, that is, the relation between the pieces of data.
For example: If we are given numbers like I and 7, they do not mean much. We may relate to the number 1 as being less than 2 and greater than 0, while 7 is a number greater than 6 but less than 8. At this level of understanding, these numbers are mere data.
However, if we associate 7 with the number of days in a week, then we create context. With context, these data become information. And the information given by that context is that there are 7 days in I week. We have established a relationship between the two pieces of data 1 and 7. We have associated the number 1 with week and the number 7 with days. We have placed the data within a context thus producing information.
We see from this example that information entails an understanding of the relations between data (e.g., the relation between the number 1 and number 7 in the context of the number of days in a week). In general, information remains relatively static in time and linear in nature.
Since information merely provides the relationship between data, therefore does not provide a foundation for why the data is what it is and does not indicate how the data is likely to change over time. In short, information is a relationship between data that is dependent on context for its meaning and with little implication for the future. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
An example: Data, information, and knowledge
This example uses bank savings account to show how data, information, and knowledge relate to the principal, interest rate, and interest.
Data: The numbers 100 or 5%, completely out of context, are just pieces of data. Interest, principal, and interest rate, out of context, are not much more than data as each has multiple meanings which are context-dependent.
Information: If l establish a bank savings account as the basis for context, then interest, principal, and interest rate become meaningful in that context with specific interpretations. The principal is the amount of money, $100, in the savings account. Interest rate. 5%, is the factor used by the bank to compute interest on the principal. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Knowledge: If I put $100 in my savings account, and the bank pays 5% interest yearly, then at the end of one year the bank will compute the interest of $5 and add it to my principal and I will have $105 in the bank. This pattern represents knowledge, which allows me to understand how the pattern will evolve over time and the results it will produce.
In understanding the pattern, I know and what I know is knowledge. If I deposit more money into my account, I know that I will earn more interest, while if I withdraw money from my account, I know that I will earn less Interest.
Types of Knowledge
In the modern economy, the knowledge that it is able to harness is the organization’s competitive advantage.
This competitive advantage is realized through the full utilization of information and data coupled with the harnessing of people’s skills and ideas as well as their commitments and motivations. In the corporate context, knowledge is the product of organization and systematic reasoning applied to data and information. It is the outcome of learning that provides the organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage. As such knowledge is an essential asset that has become more important than land, labor, or capital in today’s economy.
In general, there are three types of knowledge:
- Tacit knowledge
- Explicit knowledge
- Embedded knowledge
Tacit knowledge is that stored in the brain of a person. Explicit knowledge is that contained in documents or other forms of storage other than the human brain. Explicit knowledge may therefore be stored or embedded in facilities, products, processes, services, and systems. Both types of knowledge can be produced as a result of interactions or innovations. They can be the outcome of relationships or alliances.
They permeate the daily functioning of organizations and contribute to the attainment of their objectives. Both tacit and explicit knowledge enables organizations to respond to novel situations and emerging challenges.
1. Tacit Knowledge
Tacit knowledge is personal. It is stored in the heads of people. It is accumulated through study and experience. It is developed through the process of interaction with other people. Tacit knowledge grows through the practice of trial and error and the experience of success and failure. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
This type of knowledge was originally defined by Polanyi in 1966. It is sometimes referred to as know-how (Brown & Duguid 1998) and refers to intuitive, hard-to-define knowledge that is largely experience based. Because of this, tacit knowledge is often context-dependent and personal in nature. It is hard to communicate and deeply rooted in action, commitment, and involvement (Nonaka 1994).
Tacit knowledge is found in the minds of human stakeholders. It includes cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, mental models, etc, as well as skills, capabilities, and expertise (Botha et al 2008). On this site, I will generally limit tacit knowledge to knowledge embodied in people, and refer separately to embedded knowledge (as defined below). whenever making this distinction is relevant.
2. Explicit Knowledge
Explicit knowledge is codified. It is stored in documents, databases, websites, emails, and the like. It is the knowledge that can be readily made available to others and transmitted or shared in the form of systematic and formal languages.
Explicit knowledge comprises anything that can be codified, documented, and archived. These include knowledge assets such as reports, memos, business plans, drawings, patents, trademarks, customer lists, methodologies, and the like. They represent an accumulation of the organization’s experience kept in a form that can readily be accessed by interested parties and replicated if desired. In many organizations, these knowledge assets are stored with the help of computers and information technology.
This type of knowledge is formalized and codified and is sometimes referred to as know-what (Brown & Duguid 1998). It is therefore fairly easy to identify, store, and retrieve (Wellman 2009). This is the type of knowledge most easily handled by KMS, which are very effective at facilitating the storage, retrieval, and modification of documents and texts. Explicit knowledge is found in, databases, memos, notes, documents, etc. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
3. Embedded Knowledge
Embedded knowledge refers to the knowledge that is locked in processes, products, culture, routines, artifacts, or structures. Knowledge is embedded either formally, such as through a management initiative to formalize a certain beneficial routine, or informally as the organization uses and applies the other two knowledge types.
Its role in this context is somewhat limited but it does have some useful applications. Broadly speaking, IT can be used to help map organizational knowledge areas; as a tool in reverse engineering of products (thus trying to uncover hidden embedded knowledge); or as a supporting mechanism for processes and cultures. However, it has also been argued that IT can have a disruptive influence on culture and processes, particularly if implemented improperly. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Embedded knowledge is found in, rules processes, manuals, organizational culture, codes of conduct, ethics, products, etc. It is important to note, that while embedded knowledge can exist in explicit sources (i.e., a rule can be written in a manual), the knowledge itself is not explicit, i.e., it is not immediately apparent why doing something this way is beneficial to the organization.
Interaction between Types of Knowledge
Personal knowledge can become organizational knowledge through the dynamic interaction between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.
This dynamic process is the essence of knowledge creation in an organization. This interaction between the two types of knowledge brings about what is called the four modes of knowledge conversion.
The process of knowledge creation is based on a double spiral movement between tacit and explicit knowledge. Table 1 shows the four modes of knowledge conversion: socialization (from individual tacit knowledge to group tacit knowledge), externalization (from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge), combination (from separate explicit knowledge to systemic explicit knowledge), and internalization (from explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge). (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Socialization is a process of creating common tacit knowledge through shared experiences. In socialization, a field of interaction is built where individuals share experiences and space at the same time. Through this process, common unarticulated beliefs and embodied skills are created and developed. In socialization, the tacit knowledge of one person is shared and transmitted to another person and it becomes part of the other person’s tacit knowledge. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Externalization is a process of articulating tacit knowledge into such explicit knowledge as concepts and/or diagrams. The process often uses metaphors, analogies, and/or sketches. This mode is triggered by a dialogue intended to create concepts from tacit knowledge.
A good example of externalization is the process of creating a new product concept or developing a new production process. Here the tacit knowledge in the brains of experts is articulated and expressed as concepts or drawings, thus becoming explicit knowledge that can be further studied and refined. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
The combination is a process of assembling new and existing explicit knowledge into systemic knowledge. For example, a researcher can assemble an array of previously existing explicit knowledge in order to prepare a new set of specifications for a prototype of a new product. Or an engineer can combine available drawings and design specifications to produce a new process design or equipment. What commonly occurs is the combination of a newly created concept with existing knowledge to produce something tangible (e.g., a new product model).
Internalization is a process of embodying explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge or an individual’s know-how or operational knowledge. An excellent example of this is “learning by doing or using.” Explicit knowledge that is available as text, sound, or video facilitates the internalization process. The use of operating manuals for various machines or equipment is a quintessential example of explicit knowledge that is used for internalization. The instructions are learned and become part of the person’s tacit knowledge
- Need for Knowledge Management
“Knowledge has become the key resource, for a nation’s military strength as well as for its economic strength… is fundamentally different from the traditional key resources of the economist – land, labour, and even capital…we need systematic work on the quality of knowledge and the productivity of knowledge… the performance capacity, if not the survival, of any organization in the knowledge society will come increasingly to depend on those two factors”
- Knowledge management:
(i) Knowledge management (KM) may simply be defined as doing what is needed to get the most out of knowledge resources.
(ii) In general, KM focuses on organizing and making available important knowledge, wherever and whenever it is needed.
(iii) KM is also related to the concept of intellectual capital.
- Forces driving knowledge management:
(i) Increasing Domain Complexity
(ii) Accelerating Market Volatility
(iii) Intensified Speed of Responsiveness
(iv) Diminishing Individual Experience
- Increasing domain complexity:
(i) Complexity of the underlying knowledge domains is increasing.
(ii) Thus, the complexity of the knowledge required to complete a specific business process task has increased as well.
(iii) Intricacy of internal and external processes, increased competition, and the rapid advancement of technology all contribute to increasing domain complexity. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Example: New product development now typically requires…
(a) Not only brainstorming sessions by free-thinking product designers
(b) But also the partnership of inter-organizational teams representing many various functional subunits (finance, marketing, engineering, …)
(iv) Professional recruiters increasingly emphasize not just excellent educational and professional qualifications, but also have outstanding communication and team collaboration skills…
(a) Enabling them to share their knowledge for the benefit of the organization.
- Accelerating market volatility:
(i) The pace of change, or volatility, within each market domain has increased rapidly in the past decade.
(ii) Market and environmental influences can result in overnight changes in an organization.
(iii) Corporate announcements of a missed financial quarterly target could send the company’s capitalization into a downward spiral.
(a) Along with their entire industry, sometimes!
(iv) Stock prices have become increasingly volatile in recent years
(a) A result of “day trading” phenomenon (sharp increase in nonfinancial professionals who are making a living from exploiting steep market fluctuations)
- Intensified speed of responsiveness:
(i) The time required to take action based upon subtle changes within and across domains is decreasing.
(ii) Rapid advances in technology are continually changing the decision-making landscape.
(a) Decisions must be made and implemented quickly – otherwise, the window of opportunity closes.
Example: hotel booking business
(a) Yesterday… low-tech…
(b) Customer makes a request
(c) Individual sales representatives return to the office
(d) Discuss the opportunity with their manager
(e) Draft a proposal
(f) Mail the proposal to the client
(g) Client accepts or rejects the offer
(h) Today… with online auctioning/bidding markets…
(i) Hotel manager: “should I book a $200 room for the bid offer of $80 and fill the room, or risk not accepting the bid hoping to get a walk-in customer that will pay the $200?”
(j) Manager only has minutes after a bid offer to make the decision!
- Diminishing Individual Experience
1. High employee turnover rates have resulted in individuals with decision-making authority having less tenure within their organizations than ever before.
Example: Fortune 300 CEOs
(i) Proportion below age 50:
(a) 1998: 5%
(b) 2000: 15%
(ii) Median tenure in office:
(a) 1998: 7 years
(b) 2004: 5 years
- Because trends change so rapidly, a decision-maker’s experience may not be relevant to the decision that needs to be made (even when the individual has been with the organization for years).
- Damages mission-critical decision-making:
(i) Immature intuition – the decision maker is less likely to understand the nuances of domain inputs, due to the complexity of specific domains and their own tenure within an organization. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
(ii) Pressure for faster responsiveness – when facing external pressures, the need to respond is more urgent due to competitive pressures such as shortening product development cycles.
(iii) Higher risk of wrong or unclear decision responses – the need for swiftness in implementing an action after a decision has been made allows little market tolerance for wrong or unclear decision responses.
The Knowledge Challenge
Knowledge is one of the most important assets of any organization. Unfortunately, very few are able to harness this asset in a meaningful way. Even fewer organizations are able to optimize the use of this important asset. In this context, it is helpful to identify two kinds of knowledge: core knowledge and enabling knowledge. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
In any organization, certain areas of knowledge are more important than others. The kind of knowledge that is critical to the attainment of the organization’s goal and the fulfillment of its strategy is called “core knowledge”. Because core knowledge is critical to the organization, the management of core knowledge must be kept within the organization. It must be developed and nurtured inside the organization.
Core knowledge alone cannot fully support an organization and make it competitive. There is a need for knowledge that can maintain the effectiveness of the organization. Such knowledge is known as “enabling knowledge”. When combined with the core knowledge, such enabling knowledge leads to the development of new products, processes, and services. By its very nature, the management of enabling knowledge can be outsourced. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Knowledge Management System
There is no universally accepted definition of knowledge management. But there are numerous definitions proffered by experts. Put very simply, knowledge management is the conversion of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and sharing of it within the organization. Putting it more technically and accurately, knowledge management is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
Characteristics of knowledge:
- Knowledge specificity
1. Aspects of Knowledge Management
There are two main aspects of knowledge management, namely, information management and people management Viewed from this perspective, knowledge management is about information, on one hand, and people, on the other.
Most entrepreneurs and managers are familiar with the term information management. This term is associated with the management of knowledge related to objects that are identified and handled by information systems.
The practice of information management developed and became widely accepted when executives realized that information was an important corporate resource that could and should be managed to improve the company’s competitiveness. As a consequence of the growth in the practice of information management, the concepts of “information analysis” and “information planning” developed, thus providing additional tools for practitioners. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
The second aspect of knowledge management is people management. Basically, this involves the management of tacit knowledge that resides inside the heads of people. In actual practice, it entails managing the knowledge that exists alongside organizational processes involving a complex set of dynamic skills, know-how, and other knowledge-related capabilities.
In order to effectively manage the people that possess the desired tacit knowledge, it is essential to take into consideration their cultural and social values, attitudes and aspirations, and likes and dislikes. If this can be done successfully, it can lead to the creation of new knowledge that otherwise cannot be accomplished by information management alone.
Both aspects of knowledge management embody two immediate concerns:
- To make organizational knowledge more productive;
- To produce benefits that are significantly greater than those envisioned.
Knowledge management offers an excellent opportunity to adopt previously impossible business strategies. For example, it can open the door to the creation of an almost unlimited network that enhances the alliances and relationships with customers and suppliers. In enhancing customer relations, knowledge management makes possible the discovery of new issues and opportunities through the optimum use of knowledge assets such as contract sales and records and customer demographics and data, including customer location and contact names. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
2. Need to Manage Knowledge
- Marketplaces are increasingly competitive and the rate of innovation is rising,
- Reductions in staffing create a need to replace informal knowledge with formal methods.
- Competitive pressures reduce the size of the workforce that holds valuable business knowledge.
- The amount of time available to experience and acquire knowledge has diminished.
- Early retirements and increasing mobility of the workforce lead to loss of knowledge.
- There is a need to manage increasing complexity as small operating companies are transnational sourcing operations.
- Changes in strategic direction may result in the loss of knowledge in a specific area.
3. Measuring Knowledge Management
By way of a final note to more fully understand what knowledge management really is, it is useful to briefly consider and discuss the measurement of the results of a knowledge management system. Any such system of measurement must take into consideration the value of knowledge assets and the magnitude of knowledge sharing.
Admittedly, such measurement is a difficult task since knowledge is generated by human beings and is both tacit and dynamic. Since the management of knowledge involves the coordination of individuals who create, share, organize and apply knowledge, measuring this management involves the tracing and documentation of the causal relationships between the application of knowledge and its creation and sharing. (BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material)
4. Definitions of Knowledge Management
- Knowledge management is the collection of processes that govern the creation dissemination, and utilization of knowledge. – Brian Newman
- Knowledge management is the management of the organization towards the continuous renewal of the organizational knowledge base – this means, for example, the creation of supportive organizational structures, facilitation of organizational members, putting IT instruments with emphasis on teamwork and diffusion of knowledge (e.g., groupware) into place. – Thomas Bertels
- Knowledge management is an audit of “intellectual assets” that highlights unique sources, critical functions and potential bottlenecks which hinder knowledge flows to the point of use. – Denham Grey
- Knowledge management consists of activities focused on the organization gaining knowledge from its own experience and from the experience of others, and on the judicious application of that knowledge to fulfill the mission of the organization. – Gregory Wenig
- Knowledge management is a business activity with two primary aspects: (a) treating the knowledge component of business activities as an explicit concern of business reflected in strategy, policy, and practice at all levels of the organization; and (b) making a direct connection between an organization’s intellectual assets – both explicit (recorded) and tacit (personal know-how) – and positive business results. – Rebecca O. Barclay and Philip C. Murray
- Knowledge management is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. – Megan Santosus and Jon Surmacz
- Knowledge management is the systematic process of finding, selecting, organizing, distilling and presenting information in a way that improves an employee’s comprehension in a specific area of interest. – University of Texas
- Knowledge management is a process with four parts that comprise a loop: knowledge is created, knowledge is captured, knowledge is classified and modified, and knowledge is shared. – Wally Bock
- Knowledge management is the way that organizations create, capture and re-use knowledge to achieve organizational objectives. – Wally Bock
- Knowledge management is the way organizations create, capture, enhance, and reuse knowledge to achieve organizational objectives. – Asian Development Bank
5. Knowledge Management Solutions
- Knowledge management solutions refer to the variety of ways in which KM can be facilitated:
(i) KM processes
(ii) KM systems
(iii) KM mechanisms and technologies
(iv) KM infrastructure
An Overview of knowledge management solutions:
BCA Introduction to Knowledge Management Notes Study Material