- Purpose of the paper: to give insights into the management of information in knowledge-based organizations.
- Scope of the paper: to provide:
- definitions of the terms;
- outlook on the field of organizational knowledge;
- recap of some of the issues that may arise in the field.
In the modern day and age, information can be rightfully considered the thing that moves the world forward. It is, therefore, fair to assume that at the forefront of scientific-technological progress are the organizations that deal with acquiring and preserving information – or those whose success directly relates to it. In order to catch up with the ever-changing field of technology, when facing problems, they have to come up with techniques and methods to solve them quickly. Only when finding a way to overcome the obstacles on the way to continue perfecting their area can the organizations concerned with information move forward.
Use and Arrangement of Information in Organizations
Organizational Knowledge: Definitions, Characteristics, Functions
In order to divulge what organizational knowledge is, it is beneficial to give a definition of knowledge proper. According to Zieba (2021), knowledge is very tough to define, and that arises from the fact that knowledge is impossible to touch or see. The majority of it is stored in the minds of people – and those could be the minds of particular individuals, as well as the collective consciousness of a group. Knowledge can also be inculcated in the cultural norms of a group of people or in their processes and tools on the way to achieving a goal (Zieba, 2021).
Gnoli (2020) assumes that one, intuitively, is aware that knowledge is about someone knowing something – or, in other words, having come to an understanding of some kind of an inner representation of particular external objects. This representation includes a model that contains a set of units and connections among them. However, the material units and the ideas that simulate them are alike in that their parts have a system of relationships between them – they are structurally similar. Thus, knowledge is a rather simplistic reproduction of these relationship networks in another substrate (Gnoli, 2020).
It is interesting to note that what oftentimes can be described as knowledge applies as well to the description of information. Meanings of these two terms often overlap, and, it turns out, that information organization has come to mean the same thing as knowledge organization. Their relationship can be presented via the cited Gnoli (2020) metaphor of the DIKW pyramid (data – information – knowledge – wisdom): at the base of it are sets of integrated information about the form of data; further information integration leads to the creation of an upper layer of knowledge, and integrating knowledge can lead to wisdom.
An additional perspective of the relationship between knowledge and wisdom has been offered: one more abstract model presents information as being composed of isolated points, while knowledge is a network of lines that connects these points – in its turn, wisdom is the removal of most points and lines, preserving only a few elements that are considered to be the most crucial.
In Zieba’s opinion (2021), what deviates information from knowledge is the fact that knowledge is essentially a product of a human’s mind encouraging direct action, while information is what gives such action meaning and context. On the basis of this, knowledge can be defined as the sum total of all the information – collected, ordered, and processed – which is reinforced by reflection and encourages an individual – or an organization – to act and make decisions seconded by intuition or wisdom which are guided by experience gained (Zieba, 2021).
When it comes to organizational knowledge, first of all, it is a peculiar term referring to its meaning. Bolisani and Bratianu (2018) argue that it has at least two: in a broader sense, it is a result of people’s formatting of knowledge in a social context – and its transference, storage, retrieval, and use in accordance with the needs of an organization. This process is obvious, but the particular nature of what an organization’s knowledge is is not highlighted by it. In a more narrow sense, organizational knowledge is a developed capability of the organization’s members to make differentiations while going about their work, in specific contexts, by adopting sets of generalizations, the application of which depends on collective understandings developed through the course of time. Organizational knowledge is a separate operational area in comparison to the areas of personal knowledge of staff that was acquired not by ordinarily aggregating personal knowledge areas but by their non-linear integration and process.
Organizational knowledge (OK) is basically a nomenclature that makes attempts to identify a relatively new characteristic of knowledge-based organizations. Organizational knowledge, alongside knowledge and knowledge management, has always been a part of organizations, but its significance and role seem to have been unexposed. Now OK has been transformed by new science-driven organizations into a strategic resource (Bolisani and Bratianu, 2018).
However, OK is not only important in terms of its strategic potential but also in terms of the new relationship between a staff member and an organization as a result of the synchronization of his or her area of expertise with that of the organization. Both individual and organizational areas of knowledge are, in fact, dynamically integrating three main areas: cognitive, emotional, and spiritual knowledge fields. The energy of integration comes from organizational integrators – that is, the management, leadership, and culture of an organization. There might be some valuable potential areas of expertise within an organization, but if integrators do not possess enough capabilities to transform this capacity into high operational knowledge, the organization’s competitiveness inevitably goes down (Bolisani and Bratianu, 2015).
When speaking about knowledge bases and their relevance, an interesting remark has been made by NA (2016):
- On the one hand, corporations are to expand and preserve their current knowledge base as a basis for gathering new knowledge and for exercising well-executed corporate processes. It should also serve for the generation of necessary redundancy and recognition and structuring of new information. The knowledge base contains rather elaborate frameworks and schemes that are able to compile a complex representation of the situation within the corporation while delivering cognitive filters that are capable of reducing external and internal complicities to a consistent understanding of the world that clearly determines the company’s primary decisions and activities.
- On the other hand, this same knowledge base is threatened by new information, varying interpretations, and conflicting knowledge, which is impossible to simply integrate into the existing worldview. Thus, knowledge creation always surpasses the borders of the relevant knowledge base, contributing to the further development and expansion of relevant conceptual frameworks. An accepted comprehension of the situation at any given time is constantly questioned and, if necessary, transformed into a new perspective, provoking complicated argumentation and justification processes and justification, and is to be adopted in favor of existing or newly acquired commitments.
That is, a fragile balance has to be maintained: the knowledge that is created now has to have a relation to the already existing knowledge so that it can be accepted and understood; at the same time, the very essence of new knowledge is to challenge the established standards by its novelty, giving way to a potential area of issues and arguments. Seems as if it is not the only peculiarity that can occur when looking through the field of information and its organization.
When one tries to identify what kinds of problems may arise when delving into a complicated issue of trying to comprehend the world of information use and management by companies, quite a few are found. One that has been constantly referred to in the last couple of years is information management; for one, Agu (2017) claims that even though most organizations have a wealth of information on which they can build, if a company’s infrastructure does not make provision for ways to effectively create, use, manage, access and deliver data, the results will be underwhelming.
That means that the organization’s attempts to use its information base for its advantage will fail. The information systems’ requirements to be a crucial and valuable component of service delivery cannot be met by fractured automation efforts, one-sided commitment to applications based on the mainframe, proprietary hardware platforms that are incompatible with one another, heterogeneous software, and inaccessible data.
That means that a new treatment of planning is necessary – one that takes into consideration the relationship between operation scheduling and technological infrastructure. This treatment must consider the necessity to:
- satisfy the needs of customers;
- respond to changes in organization structures;
- benefit from open system concepts;
- comply with industry standards;
- provide dispensed and accessible hard- and software and data resources;
- support processes undergoing redesign;
- respond to the change of requirements;
- be easy to use;
- recognize the data’s significance as a corporate source (Agu, 2017).
In addition to that, Cruz’s (2018) research gives the definition of information management – it is “the process by means of which basic resources (economic, physical, human, or material) are obtained, deployed, or used to handle information within and for the society it serves” (p.19). Thus, information management must cover the entire value chain of information, from identifying the needs of users – external and internal – to its end-use. Information occupies a prominent place as a resource that a company must dispose of and manage so as to solve current problems. Moreover, the information resources needed to advance organizational functions must be used in a correct manner and according to plan. It is also noted that the organization’s benefits rely directly on the way these are handled (Cruz, 2018).
This issue will be expanded on in accordance with the authors’ respective research.
Agu (2017) starts by defining information management – it is the discipline of dealing with analyzing information while viewing it as an organizational resource. It is concerned with definitions, applications, significance, and distribution of all data of a particular organization, whether they are computer-processed or not. It assesses the nature of data needed by the organization for effective functioning and progress. Information management (IM) is the use of an organization’s information resources and capabilities to create and supplement value for the organization and its clients.
The IM is, therefore an infinite loop consisting of five activities that are all related:
- Identification of information needs;
- Obtaining and creating information;
- Information organization and storage;
- Dissemination of information;
- Use of information.
The concept behind IM is that, much like an organization deals with its human resources or financial assets following the system and with intent, it must be the same in regard to its information resources and respective processes. All classical organizational management functions are also applicable to IM: objectives setting, guidance providing, policy development, resource allocation, staff training, assessment, and feedback.
In that regard, Information Resources Management (IRM) is a new discipline that is bound to help managers evaluate and use their data benefits for the development of businesses. It relies on libraries and IT systems as sources of information. It is an essential foundation for knowledge management in the sense that it is systematically linked to explicit knowledge.
Information Resource Management (IRM) is one of the core competencies of an information age enterprise. This function contributes to the achievement of strategic business objectives by applying principles of management to information resources. It sets up and provides information policies, reference points, and operations for the task of managing the organization’s accessible information as a resource for the business strategy.
Essentially, information is seen as a resource of great value that should be treated in the same way as other valuable resources – that should make a contribution to the achievement of an organization’s goals. IRM supplies an integrated approach for managing all data throughout its life cycle, starting with generation to its dispersion to archiving or destruction in the end, in order to maximize the overall utility of data and enhance service delivery and program management.
IRM deals with the governance of:
- “The broad range of information resources, e.g., printed materials, electronic information, and microforms,
- The various technologies and equipment that manipulate these resources, and
- The people who generate, organize and disseminate those resources. Overall the intent of IRM is to increase the usefulness of government information both to the government and to the public” (Agu, 2017, p.125).
IRM stands in need of standardization and discipline. The establishment of a centralized mechanism for sharing and reusing resources requires agreement on the definition of the standard components, their attributes, and their relation to other components. Standard systems development processes are essential as well so that they can be integrated in a concordant and predictable manner. Unfortunately, it is erroneous to assume that the IT community has any standards available, and, consequently, IT stores are full of contrarians with different instructions on how to approach the development of the systems. Notions like these of standardization and discipline are strongly rejected.
Additionally, IRM stands in need of long-term thinking, which in most places is an exception to the rule. Immediate benefits of resource sharing and reusing are not something that one can expect to obtain. On the contrary, it can be considered an investment in the bright future. Companies will stand to gain by implementing distribution and re-usage of information resources – and the true benefit is the following perfecting of the IRM Repository, after which the components will start to be reused time and again.
To sum up, the objective of Agu’s (2017) proposition is to create and preserve a receptacle of useful data on all assets; it is to be used to productively deal with all these assets in a variety of ways; this information is to be made accessible in regard to essential processes relating to business and management.
Cruz’s (2018) study starts with defining what information retrieval is: it “is a discipline that deals with the application of a series of techniques, models, and activities so as to seek, locate, and retrieve efficiently, in the various Information Retrieval Systems (IRS), the relevant information that the user requires so as to satisfy his/her information needs” (Cruz, 2018, p.19).
Therefore, the ability to obtain useful data from various digital resources is a core activity of individuals, as well as a critical skill for a great number of professional groups – and, possibly, a means of reaching competitive advantages. In view of the fact that some studies have previously shown that constraints or inhibitors preventing information from obtaining information have been identified, Cruz wonders what the main components that a retrieval model of information should be comprised of are.
Further on, Cruz proposes a study of elements for model information retrieval.
The subsections provided expand on why all of the elements included in the information retrieval model are essential.
First of all, the user is made mentions the most important component to know. However, not only the user themselves – but more so their cognitive space, attitudes, and behavior while carrying out a search and particular information needs. To put it another way, the user and everything related to the concept of the user is relevant to the formation of IRS so that all concepts related to this component are considered in the same manner.
Moreover, besides the user themselves, what should also be considered is all the units that can intervene in retrieving information. Not doing that will not provide the entire outlook needed when integrating the processes. As a result, the efficacy and usefulness of the information retrieval will be reduced, not boosted.
Then, information searching is a process deemed important for a human associated with learning and problem-solving. In this day and age, information is the key to everything. The user is in constant need of information and in search of it – and that must be counted as a necessary component. There is no information retrieval if there are no informative needs. A number of levels of information management are as follows:
- Information management tied to a job position and individual data control related to daily tasks;
- Information management focused on departmental or functional objectives; and
- Information management deployed for achieving corporate goals” (Cruz, 2018, p.25).
The user, as well as the information, can be caught in diverse environments. The company is to enter the activity of searching for information and take responsibility for it. In order to do that, the organization’s communication process is to be open – plus, the organization has to be capable of establishing the user’s identity and classifying them.
There is also IRS; the main function is to support the user and supply them with information, which is a collection of concepts and methodologies to be applied in the retrieval of information.
Moreover, organizations operate on the basis of legislation and regulations. To put it in other words, the rules are to facilitate access to standard formats that, as much as anything else, will allow for a more successful and operative retrieval of information.
There is a variety of difficulties in retrieving information, including the ways of is defined and organized.
Document management is a crucial process for organizing, given the amount of information that is derived from documents.
Here, “documentation techniques” is used to refer to the unit that includes operations exercised by information professionals, intermediaries, and information managers for identification, classification, and organization in order to get to retrieve information at a later stage in an effective manner.
To conclude, Cruz (2018) takes into consideration everything that might be relevant in order to propose the components that have to be incorporated into the information retrieval model. It is evident that no substantial analysis is possible when every single thing is not taken into consideration. This concept of a model seems to factor into it – and that is the way any organization can implement these recommendations in order to pursue its goals.
The age of technologies gives organizations no room for mistake – if one does not work hard enough to improve their technologies, another company might catch one up and surpass before anyone knows it. That is why it is essential to apply thought and research when striving for improvement. The field of information acquisition is the one where it is especially true – since it deals with people and their needs, innovative and client-oriented approaches are the only things able to provide brilliance.
Agu, L. O. (2017). Information management in organizations: An overview. Information Impact: Journal of Information and Knowledge Management, 8(4), 123-126. Web.
Bolisani, E., Bratianu, C. (2018). Emergent Knowledge Strategies: Strategic Thinking in Knowledge Management. (n.p.): Springer International Publishing.
Cruz Gil, M. (2018). Model of Information Retrieval in the Context of Organizations. Pakistan Journal Of Information Management And Libraries, 20(0). Web.
Gnoli, C. (2020). Introduction to Knowledge Organization. United Kingdom: Facet Publishing.
NA, N. (2016). Knowledge Creation: A Source of Value. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Zieba, M. (2021). Understanding Knowledge-Intensive Business Services: Identification, Systematization, and Characterization of Knowledge Flows. Germany: Springer International Publishing.