Knowledge Management

Strategically support your greatest assets: your people and what they know

The Case for Knowledge Management Initiatives

Knowledge Management processes are important to develop in the business enterprise because the enterprise grows, adds people, and is successful because it is able to have its knowledge permeate the organization. Its knowledge can represent everything from its culture to its intelligence and intellectual property.

Alavi and Leidner write that because knowledge-based resources are usually difficult to imitate and socially complex, the knowledge-based view of the firm posits that these knowledge assets may produce long-term sustainable competitive advantage. Furthermore, it is less the knowledge existing at any given time per se than the firm's ability to effectively apply the existing knowledge to create new knowledge and to take action that forms the basis for achieving competitive advantage from knowledge-based assets (2001, p.108).

The Knowledge Management processes listed on this page are techniques that the enterprise will use to review and evaluate performance. As a Knowledge Management program, the purpose and focus is on assessment for the purpose of learning and making performance improvement changes. Typically requiring a sort of time-out from daily work activity, it can feel as if the time can be used for more productive work activities. Resist this temptation! Process improvement often results when scheduling time for these processes. As this type of activity is becoming a regular part of the work process, more people are needed who are proficient in facilitating these processes. Various academic programs are becoming available for people to become proficient.

Academic Programs

Martin Grossman assessed the academic discipline of Knowledge Management in 2007. He observed Michael Sutton's work in "A Topical Review of Knowledge Management Curriculum Programs in University Graduate Schools" where Sutton identified 79 KM graduate programs offered by 47 institutions around the world. Programs were categorized according to the following disciplines:

  • business, commerce, management
  • artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, computer systems, information systems, software engineering
  • information and media, information management, information science, library and information studies
  • information technology, systems engineering
  • knowledge science
  • continuing education, other

Furthermore, analysis of the data revealed that the largest number (37%) fell in graduate programs of information studies, which is predominantly made up of graduate schools of Library and Information Science (2007, p.33).

Grossman also observes that several non-academic, professional organizations are offering certification in Knowledge Management. Some of the vendors are the International KM Institute, Knowledge Management Professional Society, Global Knowledge Economics Council, and Knowledge Management Consortium International (2007, p.33). The Special Library Association also offers a certificate program in Knowledge Management.

Consider academic programs at graduate schools for proficiency in the latest research for the discipline and to learn and contribute to the body of knowledge that supports the discipline. If a Knowledge Management course is available as an undergraduate elective, consider taking it to be available to participate in an informed way should the enterprise you join undertake periodic Knowledge Management processes as part of their workflow. Finally, I would recommend non-academic, professional organization Certificate programs to get a working and speaking awareness of the processes. These go a long way to give you the familiarity to participate in or even lead various Knowledge Management processes in your enterprise.