THE KNOWLEDGE IN KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

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Chapter 2 The Knowledge in Knowledge Management

Introduction

While some epistemologists spent their lives trying to understand what it means to know something (Davenport and Prusak, 1998, Clarke and Rollo, 2001), Plato first introduced the concept of knowledge as justified, true belief in 400 B.C. (Meno, Phaedo and Theaetus as quoted by Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Advances in knowledge described the achievements of the ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Chinese civilisations and the transforming impact of the industrial revolution was characterised by the application of new knowledge in technology (Alavi and Leidner, 2001, Clarke and Rollo, 2001). Today, diverse answers are obtained when asking employees1 what knowledge is, but intuitively there is a sense that knowledge is something deeper and broader than merely data or information. Examples of such answers are:
• Network Engineer – “Oh, it is the unique insight that I have gained …”
• Manager: Warehouse – “Surely it is the judgement and insight that I use when taking decisions …”
• Chief Technology Officer – “I would say it is the application of the experience that I have gained over and above my theoretical or technical knowledge, as well as my insight and judgement in the environment that I am operating in …”
• Call Centre Agent – “It must be what I have been trained on …”
• Mailroom Supervisor – “It is what I know, whether I have learnt it in a book or experienced it on the job …”
• Senior Manager: Business Architecture – “It is the experience that I have gained over the past years that I am applying in order to do my job …”
• Software Developer – “It is the unique expertise that I have in my field …”
This chapter provides an overview of knowledge and the dimensions of knowledge,namely implicit and explicit knowledge. Knowledge management is then considered including an overview of knowledge management processes and implications in the organisational context as in relation to the first research question “How does the nature of knowledge management contribute to a typical architecture of a knowledge management system?” This chapter closes with a brief overview of knowledge management barriers. Table 1 provides an overview of the chapter layout.

What is knowledge?

Michael Polanyi (1891–1976) was a medical scientist before he turned to philosophy at the age of 55 and was the first to articulate the concept of tacit versus explicit knowledge (Sveiby, 31 December 1997). As epistemological philosopher Polanyi (October 1962 : 601) stated that “there are things that we know but cannot tell” and with this opposed the epistemological view,2 which holds that the only valid knowledge is that which can be articulated and tested by strictly impersonal methods. He argues that some of man’s knowledge is tacit and cannot be articulated (Koenig, 1998, Smith, 2003, Moteleb and Woodman, 2007). To illustrate this he uses the examples of swimming and cycling – although someone knows how to swim or ride a bicycle, it does not mean that he/she can explain how to stay buoyant while swimming or how to keep balance on a bicycle (Polanyi, October 1962).The Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English (Soanes and Hawker, 2005) defines knowledge as (1) information and skills acquired through experience or education (2) the sum of what is known and (3) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. These definitions point to the following broad areas when knowledge is considered:
• Information and skills acquired through experience or education: The term knowledge is used to refer to a body of knowledge that is articulated and captured in the form of books, papers, procedure manuals, computer programs and so on. It consists of codified, captured and accumulated facts, methods, principles and techniques (Covey, 1989, Davenport and Prusak, 1998, Nickols, 2001, Hinkelman,2006).
• The sum of what is known: The second definition refers to what Sveiby (1997) calls the capacity to act. This is the understanding of facts, methods, principles and techniques in order to apply them in the course of making things happen (Godbout,1999, Wilson and Snyder, 1999, Vandaie, 2007). As such is it not the knowledge that is the key differentiator, but rather the capacity to transform knowledge into replicable know-how.
• Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation: Lastly, knowledge is used to refer to a state of knowing (Huysamen, 1999, Alavi and Leidner, 2001). This includes facts, methods, processes, principles and techniques that we are familiar with and that we apprehend, our know-how (Nickols, 2001, Covey, 2004).

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PART I INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND 
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY 
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.4.1 Scientific
1.4.2 Personal
1.5 RESEARCH STRATEGY
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS 
1.6.1 Scope of the study
1.6.2 Limitations of the scope
1.7 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY 
PART II THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
CHAPTER 2 THE KNOWLEDGE IN KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE? 
2.2.1 Data
2.2.2 Information
2.2.3 Knowledge and wisdom
2.3 WHAT ARE THE DIMENSIONS OF KNOWLEDGE?
2.3.1 Explicit knowledge
2.3.2 Implicit and tacit knowledge
2.3.3 The knowledge continuum
2.3.4 Knowledge taxonomies
2.4 WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?
2.4.1 Knowledge management processes
2.4.2 Knowledge harvesting and discovery
2.4.3 Knowledge creation
2.5 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN AN ORGANISATIONAL CONTEXT 
2.5.1 Knowledge work
2.5.2 The learning organisation
2.6 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT BARRIERS 
2.7 SUMMARY 
CHAPTER 3 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 SOFTWARE TOOLS ENABLEMENT
3.3 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
3.3.1 Solution characteristics
3.3.2 Information systems
3.4 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE TOOLS
3.4.1 Application of knowledge management tools
3.4.2 Key dimensions of knowledge management tools
3.5 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES CLASSIFICATION 
3.6 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4 SOFTWARE AND SYSTEMS ARCHITECTURE
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 KEY CONCEPTS WITHIN ARCHITECTURE DESCRIPTION
4.3 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE 
4.5 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE EVALUATION
4.6 SUMMARY 
PART III RESEARCH PLAN AND DESIGN
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 INFORMATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH 
5.2.1 Philosophical perspectives
5.2.2 Qualitative research methods
5.2.2.1 Action research
5.2.2.2 Case study
5.2.2.3 Ethnographic research
5.2.2.4 Grounded theory
5.3 CONDUCTING AND EVALUATING INTERPRETIVE FIELD STUDIES IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS 
5.4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
5.4.1 Research questions
5.4.2 Research methodology
5.4.3 Research strategy
5.4.4 Data collection
5.4.4.1 Research participant selection
5.4.4.2 Interview process
5.4.4.3 Interview questions
5.4.4.4 Interview transcription
5.4.4.5 Interview data analysis
5.4.5 Ethics and anonymity
5.5 Summary
PART IV EVIDENCE AND DISCUSSION 1
CHAPTER 6 DATA ANALYSIS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT CHARACTERISTICS FROM THE LITERATURE
6.3 RESEARCH AND INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
6.3.1 Set of questions and themes
6.3.2 Topic guide
6.4 PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
6.4.1 Definitions
6.4.1.1 Knowledge
6.4.1.2 Knowledge management
6.4.1.3 Knowledge management process
6.4.2 Technology
6.4.2.1 Knowledge management systems
6.4.2.2 Knowledge management system characteristics
6.4.2.3 Knowledge management system application
6.4.3 Architecture
6.5 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
6.5.1 Theme 1: Definition
6.5.2 Theme 2: Technology
6.5.2 Theme 3: Architecture
6.6 CONTEXT FOR ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS 
6.7 SUMMARY 
PART V CONTRIBUTION
CHAPTER 7 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
7.1 INTRODUCTION
7.2 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ENABLERS AND FEATURES 
7.2.1 Classification 1: Generation of knowledge
7.2.2 Classification 2: Storing, codification and representation of knowledge
7.2.3 Classification 3: Knowledge transformation and knowledge use
7.2.4 Classification 4: Transfer, sharing, retrieval, access and searching of knowledge
7.2.5 Knowledge management system characteristics summary
7.3 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE 
7.3.1 KMS characteristics in relation to architecture
7.3.2 Knowledge management system architecture summary
7.4 TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE KMS ARCHITECTURE 
7.5 SUMMARY 
PART VI CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION
8.1 INTRODUCTION
8.2 SUMMARY
8.2.1 Summary: Research Question 1
8.2.2 Summary: Research Question 2
8.2.3 Summary: Research Question 3
8.3 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH 
8.4 IN CLOSING 
ANNEXURE A – INTERVIEW AND QUESTIONNAIRE DATA (CD CONTENT)
A.1 LETTERS OF CONSENT
A.2 RESEARCHER INTERVIEW NOTES
A.3 TRANSCRIBED AND CODED INTERVIEWS
A.4 PERSONAL INTERVIEW OBSERVATION NOTES
REFERENCES.

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