The accumulation and use of knowledge is the foundation of human evolution and growth since its very beginning; however, systematic study of managing knowledge as organizational strategic resources or more precisely Knowledge Management (KM) has not been commenced and proliferated until recently. The term ‘Knowledge Management’ was first introduces in 1986 by the American Productivity and Quality Center (Baker, 2002), and then it has been the much-discussed topic throughout the past years (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Davenport and Prusak, 1998; and Alberto, 2000). However, the lack of theoretical understanding of knowledge and practically proven methods for efficient KM is surprising (Holsapple, 2003).
Wiig (1999) defines KM as “the systematic and explicit management of knowledge-related activities, practices, programs and policies within the enterprise”, and there are multiple KM processes being identified: goal definition, identification, acquisition, development, distribution, application, maintenance and assessment of knowledge. Skyrme (1997) views KM is a purposeful and systematic management of vital knowledge along with its associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusing, using and exploiting that knowledge. Davenport and Prusak (1998), claim that KM is the process of capturing, distributing and effectively using knowledge.
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Drucker (1998) mentioned in his book, Managing in a Time of Great Change, that “knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant – and perhaps even the only – source of comparative advantage”, because knowledge is difficult to create and imitate (Peteraf, 1997; and Teece, 1998), and it has to be nurtured and managed (Maria and Marti, 2001). Senge (1990) has warned that many organizations are unable to transform and function as knowledge organization because of learning disabilities. With rapidly changes in technologies, the way information is created, stored, used and shared have made it more accessible and make the national borders are nearly meaningless in defining an organization’s operating boundaries.
Explicit knowledge is easily formalized and documented (Hippel, 1994; and Duffy, 2000), and can be captured or shared through information technology. Explicit knowledge are usually expressed in the form of data and numbers, and can be shared formally and systematically in the form of data, specifications, manuals, drawings, audio and video, tapes, computer programs, patents, and the like. In contrast, tacit knowledge is difficult to express and formalize, and is thus difficult to share as it includes individual’s insights, intuitions and bunches. Tacit knowledge resides in the human and is evolves from people’s interactions, and requires skills and practices (Riggins and Rhee, 1999).
KM is a complicated and multifaceted discipline. Scholars, practitioners or researchers may take different perspectives and depth in analyzing the subject. Similarly, KM practitioners may take various approaches to tackle the KM problem. Therefore, the concepts of knowledge and knowledge management are best defined by the people who use them in respective areas.
In survey study on KM by Davenport,
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