Knowledge management is concerned with the exploitation and development of
the knowledge assets of an organisation with a view to furthering the organisation’s objectives. The knowledge to be managed includes both explicit, documented knowledge and tacit, subjective knowledge.
Management entails all of those processes associated with the identification, sharing and creation of knowledge. This requires systems for the creation and maintenance of knowledge repositories, and to cultivate and facilitate the sharing of knowledge and organisational learning
Tacit knowledge is what the knower knows, which is derived from experience and embodies beliefs and values. Tacit knowledge is actionable knowledge, and therefore the most valuable. Furthermore, tacit knowledge is the most important basis for the generation of new knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is represented by some artifact, such as a document or a video, which has typically been created with the goal of communicating with another person. Both forms of knowledge are important for organizational effectiveness.
These ideas lead us to focus on the processes by which knowledge is transformed between its tacit and explicit forms. Organizational learning takes place as individuals participate in these processes, since by doing so their knowledge is shared, articulated, and made available to others.
Creation of new knowledge takes place through the processes of combination and internalization.
The processes by which knowledge is transformed within and between forms usable by people are:
- Socialization (implicit to implicit): Socialization includes the shared formation and communication of tacit knowledge between people, e.g., in meetings. Knowledge sharing is often done without ever producing explicit knowledge and, to be most effective, should take place between people who have a common culture and can work together effectively. Thus tacit knowledge sharing is connected to ideas of communities and collaboration. A typical activity in which tacit knowledge sharing can take place is a team meeting during which experiences are described and discussed.
- Externalization (implicit to explicit): By its nature, tacit knowledge is difficult to convert into explicit knowledge. Through conceptualization, elicitation, and ultimately articulation, typically in collaboration with others, some proportion of a person’s tacit knowledge may be captured in explicit form. Typical activities in which the conversion takes place are in dialog among team members, in responding to questions, or through the elicitation of stories.
- Combination (explicit to explicit): Explicit knowledge can be shared in meetings, via documents, e-mails, etc., or through education and training. The use of technology to manage and search collections of explicit knowledge is well established. However, there is a further opportunity to foster knowledge creation, namely to enrich the collected information in some way, such as by reconfiguring it, so that it is more usable. An example is to use text classification to assign documents automatically to a subject schema. A typical activity here might be to put a document into a shared database.
- Internalization (explicit to implicit): In order to act on information, individuals have to understand and internalize it, which involves creating their own tacit knowledge. By reading documents, they can to some extent re-experience what others previously learned. By reading documents from many sources, they have the opportunity to create new knowledge by combining their existing tacit knowledge with the knowledge of others. However, this process is becoming more challenging because individuals have to deal with ever-larger amounts of information. A typical activity would be to read and study documents from a number of different databases.
These processes do not occur in isolation, but work together in different combinations in typical business situations. For example, knowledge creation results from interaction of persons and tacit and explicit knowledge. Through interaction with others, tacit knowledge is externalized and shared. Although individuals, such as employees, for example, experience each of these processes from a knowledge management and therefore an organizational perspective, the greatest value occurs from their combination since, as already noted, new knowledge is thereby created, disseminated, and internalized by other employees who can therefore act on it and thus form new experiences and tacit knowledge that can in turn be shared with others and so on. Since all the processes of Figure 1 are important, it seems likely that knowledge management solutions should support all of them, although it should be recognized that the balance between them in a particular organization will depend on the knowledge management strategy used.
Based on publication by: Mostafa MOBALLEGHI and Golnessa GALYANI MOGHADDAM.