What Is Knowledge Management and When Its Used

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Nowadays, the increasing complexity of both the environment in which companies operate and of their internal functioning, together with the speed demanded from them, the pressure of innovation, and the scarcity of attention, as the ultimately limited resources, make knowledge central for business success. Knowledge is seen as a factor of production not only at par with land, capital, labor, but surpassing them in the order of importance. Knowledge management has, therefore, emerged as a label of consciously perceiving and addressing the issue raised by the importance and the availability of knowledge (Rollett 2003).

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Knowledge management is a set of tools, techniques, methods, approaches, or you can say the way of work and even behaviors that are all set to design and make the organization more effective (Collison 2010). It is rooted in various disciplines, including business, economics, psychology, and information management. Concisely, knowledge management involves people, technology, and processes in overlapping parts as shown below in fig 1.

Overlapping Human, Organizational and Technological Factors of km
fig1: Overlapping Human, Organizational and Technological Factors of km (M.Ghazri 2007).

So, in some way, it can be deduced that knowledge management is about survival in a business world – a world of competition that each day increases its complexity and uncertainty. It is a world that challenges the traditional way of operating things. The focus is not only to ask for the right answer, but also seeking for the right question. What worked yesterday may or may not work tomorrow. The focus for such a complex world is to “do right things” rather than “doing things right” (M.Ghazri 2007), so that core competencies do not core rigidities in the future.

As far as I understand, knowledge management is the process of gathering and capturing the use of a firm’s collective expertise anywhere in the business in the paper form or using database systems (also known as explicit knowledge), or in people’s heads (also known as tactic knowledge). The distinction between explicit and tactic knowledge provides a basis for understanding the different roles that computer systems and human-systems will play in support of the Knowledge Management process. Explicit knowledge can be recorded digitally in documents, records, patents, and other intellectual property artifacts. As such, explicit knowledge is representational and can live and be manipulated within a digital domain. While, Tactic knowledge is made up of the best practices, experience, wisdom, and unreportable intellectual property that is contained by individuals and teams. Since tactic knowledge exists in minds, it cannot be reduced to the digital domain as a material asset, or be manipulated directly. However, it expresses in the social realm as the response-ability of individuals (productivity, innovation, and initiative), and teamwork (communication, coordination, and collaboration). According to Jasapara (2011), it has been observed that most organizations depend on tactic knowledge because it is the fuel of innovation – the only competitive advantage that can sustain the organization in an unpredictable business environment.

The basic goal of an organization is to view all their processes like knowledge processes that include knowledge creation, dissemination, upgrade, and applications, which are essential for its survival. Today’s knowledge organization has a renewed responsibility to hire knowledgeable employees and specialists to manage knowledge as a tangible asset in the same way as anvestor manages the financial portfolio. A firm seeks to add value by identifying, applying, and integrating knowledge in an unprecedented way; much like an investor adds value by unique a combination of stocks and bonds.

Knowledge Sharing and Learning at Workplace

All organizations adopt changes in order to be able to stay in the competitive market. It is therefore essential to follow the new trends and technologies. In regard to that, decision makers and staff always try to modify their responsibilities by using different measures. Knowledge management efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, sharing of the lessons learned, integration, and continuous improvement of the organization (M.Ghazri 2007). Knowledge Management efforts overlap with organizational learning and may be distinguished from that by a greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and a focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. It is seen as a factor that enables organizational learning and a more concrete mechanism than the previous abstract research. Being a junior engineer in the international company KomKonsult in Pakistan, few years back I always looked for new possible exciting ways to complete the given task. After my joining, I observed that the trend of keeping your work secrete policy was followed by the departments of the company.

No cooperation between the employees even on the higher level had been seen. Consequently, more efforts and fewer results were decreased in accordance to the success graph of R&D department. In addition, projects completion took longer, which affected the company financially as well. The company did not have a centralized database to store the data and to be viewed by every department on need. This was very unhealthy for the future of the company. However, after the appointment of Mr. Shah as a business analyst remarkable changes were seen in the company. He initiated major changes after analyzing the whole process for two months, which gave me a great deal of understanding about knowledge sharing in an organization. Due to the weak financial condition of the company at that time he ignored the idea of centralizing the company’s database but instead made two hard disks for every project; one for department itself while another one went to mutual store room of the whole department.

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This was made so that if any department needed some references to solve any task it directly contacted the mutual store and viewed the past project for their guidance. Secondly, he arranged casual parties after the normal working hours, which helped to strengthen social relations of employees. I felt both strategies worked because the employees trusted each other hence leading to an open way of communication between them. The heads of different departments also showed their contribution in terms of sharing their expertise in the projects of one another. For instance, the manager of wireless network project (who normally dealt with subcontractors of wireless network) shared his wide knowledge with PBX projects (projects about telephone network), which had constructive effect on overall company progress. Since all the telecommunication project needed the same sense of engineering expertise with only slight differences, so that the contribution could be made by highly experienced professionals always helping the juniors like me in this field.

As far as I am concerned, Knowledge is power. So, to me what people know and who they know are the valuable assets for their company as well as for them. In most of the cases, employees normally have fear of sharing knowledge on the notion that it could have some detrimental effects on their job status. Nevertheless, to drive the project successfully knowledge sharing should always be present because without it the wok becomes harder with very high chances of its failure.

Listed below are some steps that companies ought to follow for employees to encourage them to give their best (Loren Baker 2010).

Establish the Trustful EnviromentW

hen firms clarify to their employees that their locations are safe even if they allocate what they understand, knowledge will flow extra freely across the organization. Take steps to construct and clarify believes. In the end, the worker will be extra keen to allocate what they understand alongside with others in the company.

Emphasizing on Mutual Collaboration Between Employees

It has been observed that most of the employers rely on structured meetings and workshops for sharing their knowledge from top to down. Companies that believe in informal learning will build bonds between groups of coworkers. That is basically a chance for them to solve their issues without the intervention of management.

Establish Reward System

The famous saying that money talks is extra accurate than we should like to admit is applicable here. By making rewards obtainable established on team accomplishments, firms give their operatives good reasons for allocating vision amid themselves. After worthwhile commercial rewards are at stake, most people come to be extra keen to allocate what they know.

Maintain Learning Sessions on Regular Basis

Management should be emphasizing on scheduling time for groups to work for each other through sharing their expertise among themselves. By specifying schedule, it shows that the organization gives values to knowledge sharing and alarming conditions for those who do not willing to participate in such group works (Loren Baker 2010).

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Production of an Organized Documentation

Documented workflows are among the examples whereas vision ought to be shared. Exceptionally, if the association needs an ISO (or other) certification, every single task needs to be methodical in composed work procedures and saved to the company server as well as in the printed form. Many operatives are reluctant to give in these efforts for fear of being substituted by cheaper labor. However, such documentation is vital in order to construct a solid operational foundation.

Mentoring and Shadowing

Assigning a mentor and a friend to a new employee is better approach for his/her quick adjustment in the company. In a new environment, a friend who is familiar with organization policies and regulations will always be helpful to the newcomers. These strategies are also beneficial to the company, as quick as newbie adjusts in the company as much as productive. Mentors, on the other hand, transfer professional knowledge over the long term to other employees, grooming them for advancement within the company (Loren Baker 2010).

Knowledge Sharing and Learning at Education Level

The most common association with the term of Knowledge is scientific knowledge (Kai Metins n.d.). This includes knowledge, which stems from academic research facilities such as university and research institutes. The knowledge developed by using scientific methodologies and standards is tested and validated by scientific community and is explicitly described in research papers, reports, and books. Nearly the same association is linked with the knowledge produced by the research and the development department of companies. Their knowledge is, however, embedded into product and services (Kai Metins n.d.).

As far as I remember, I started learning and sharing since my school life, as I upgraded during the education my understanding about knowledge sharing became wider. At the university level, I observed workshops, group meeting, projects, and assignments, which were all the vital sources of building the awareness of knowledge sharing among students. Institutes are the place where a person learns how to move in the professional life. Therefore, by involving group activities one is able to understand the value of sharing knowledge and by applying the same practice in his/her professional life, he/she gets success.

Hoarding Information in the Electronic Form

Secondly, hoarding information in the electronic form and then utilizing it while teaching seems to be an effective way of learning. For instance, Library database contains thousands of articles and research papers in the electronic form, which is always helpful for researchers and students in their learning. Being learning organizations, libraries should provide a strong leadership in knowledge management. Unlike those business organizations whose goal for knowledge management is competitive advantage, most public, academic, and research libraries, with the exception of company libraries (which may be known or called corporate libraries, special libraries, or knowledge centers), have a different orientation and value. Instead of competition, internal use only, and little sharing of knowledge with others outside, the most important mission of public, academic, and research libraries is to expand the access to knowledge for their users. Charged by this mission, libraries should aim their knowledge management goal high (Hwa-Wei Lee n.d.).

Critical Comparison between My Understanding and Philosophers

According to John Lockey, an empiricist, everything we conceive comes from the experience, and his dictum was: “Don’t blindly follow convention or authority. Look at the facts and think for yourself” (Jasapara 2011). I agree on the aforementioned notion that a person always learns from his/her experiences. As it was the case during my education time, I always learned from my bad experience. This means that I tried to implement on getting success but was not successful. For example, in the last semester, I hired a professional to assist me in my final project without inquiring if he was the right person for my project or not? It was a bad experience to rely on him and his wrong guidance made me suffer by losing marks. Therefore, starting from that time I learnt to first search and be assured of resources before using them. It is important to determine if the person has the capability to do what you expect from him/her before you can hire him/her. In the same sense, Kant (1724-1804) saw knowledge as bounded by ‘possible experience’. It is a fact that knowledge is always got by your experience that has been passed.

Moreover, Georg William Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) viewed the primary goal of knowledge as the greatest development of the mind towards freedom. By adopting education as a source of knowledge, the new generation has now broad thinking. Especially in the Asian countries where a new generation is more educated comparing to their ancestors, and that results, for example, in refusing force marriage, that was a very common practice in the ancient times.

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The most dominant concept in knowledge management is the notions of “Tactic” and “Explicit” Knowledge (Jasapara 2011). These notions have also been described by Glibert Ryle (1900-1976) and Michal Polanyi (1891-1976). The most prominent contribution by Ryal is to demonstrate the difference between “Knowing How” and “Knowing That” (Jasapara 2011). He makes a distinction between intelligence (Knowing how) and possessing knowledge (Knowing that).

Conclusion

According to the discussion presented above, knowledge management has been clearly described as the practices and strategies that an organization puts in place in order to adopt experiences and insights taking place inside and outside the organization. As such, knowledge management is an important tool in the functioning of an organization. In the discussion, I have been able to give a personal experience of the need and importance of knowledge management in the company that I worked for. From the example, knowledge management has been depicted as a broad-spectrum management tool ranging from the organization’s database to the information that the employers could obtain from their employees during social gatherings or other forums organized after work. It is also important to note that knowledge management has been developing for a long time in the history hence it has seen much research done on the same as evidenced by many quotes listed in the discussion part of the paper. Knowledge management has also been seen to significantly develop given the significant growth and development in the field of information and technology (Jennex 2008, p. 156). It can, therefore, be concluded that knowledge management has seen a major boost from the help of information and technology.

References

Collison, C 2010, What is knowledge management, Sound Recording.

Hwa-Wei Lee, n.d., Knowledge Management and the Role of Libraries, Washington, DC: s.n.

Jasapara, A 2011, Knowledge Management: An integerated Approach. 2nd edition ed. Edinburg Gate, Harlow, England: Financial Hall Prentice Hall.

Jennex, M E 2008, Knowledge Management: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, pp. 1–3808.

Kai Metins, P H J W, n.d., Knowledge Management: Concept and Best practicies. 2nd ed. New York: Springer Publication.

Loren Baker, A S 2010, 10-tips-for-sharing-knowledge-in-your-office, Web.

M.Ghazri, E M A H 2007, Knowledge management, New Dehli, India: Dorling Kindersley.

Rollett, H 2003, Knowledge management: processes and technologies. Massachustts, USA: Kluwer Acedmic piblisher.

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