knowledge management Survey Reviews


Knowledge Management

Dr. Mohamed Taher


  • Literature Survey  
  • Book Reviews***
     


     

    ***

    a) Michael E. D. Koenig and T. Kanti Srikantaiah. Editors, Knowledge Management Lessons Learned: What Works and What Doesn't. Medford , NJ., Information Today, 2004

    b) Chun Wei Choo, Brian Detlor, and Don Turnbull. Web Work: Information Seeking and Knowledge Work on the World Wide Web.  Norwell, MA., Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000

    See also my Webliography:  Knowledge Management: Society / Community Wise

    Listmania! Institutional (aka Corporate or organizational) Memory

    Literature Survey:

    Knowledge-intensive services and knowledge-intensive products can be produced if the society is aware of the value of the knowledge capital that goes in our daily life. The Government of Netherlands has a report that deals at length with applications of the idea of knowledge management, entitled: "Intangible assets : Balancing accounts with knowledge"

    "Knowledge Management for Distributed Enterprises" (Abstract: The GNOSIS project in the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems international research program is concerned with the use of advanced information technology for knowledge systematization to support the complex intellectual and managerial processes involved in the manufacturing life cycle. It has developed technologies to coordinate distributed manufacturing enterprises, and these technologies have also proved useful in supporting the similar intellectual and managerial processes involved in distributed collaborative research. This article gives the background to the project, and illustrates its use of information technology to provide a corporate memory, its use of knowledge acquisition and modeling tools to model the project objectives and conceptual structures, and the architecture of the Mediator system to support knowledge processes in distributed enterprises)

    WWW Virtual Library on Knowledge Management    http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/KAW/KAW96/gaines/KMDE.html

    Forums, Articles, Magazines, Events, Resources, Analyses and News
    "Largest Collection of Knowledge Management Literature" -- The Wall Street Journal
    "Best Sources for Knowledge Management and Intellectual Capital" -- Fast Company
    "Hub for all kinds of Knowledge Management Information on Web" -- Harvard Business Publishing
    "E-Business Advice, Discussion Group on Technology" -- Business Week
    "Knowledge Portal Leading the Way" -- Knowledge Management Review
    "Tool for Raising Your Company's IQ" -- Forbes
    "The Best Web Site on the topic of Knowledge Management" -- InfoWorld
    "Fast-growing Wealth of Academic and Mainstream Business Content" -- Chief Executive

    The Knowledge Chronicle objective is to bring forth a better

                           understanding of Knowledge Management.  The Knowledge Chronicle
                          explores the definition of knowledge, the value of people to knowledge
                          projects, and practical applications of knowledge management.
                          Questions such as how can companies repeat successful projects and
                          also learn from lost opportunities. Understanding, developing, and
                          promoting Knowledge Management will transform these question into a
                          reality.
     

    Book Reviews:

    Michael E. D. Koenig and T. Kanti Srikantaiah. Editors, Knowledge Management Lessons Learned: What Works and What Doesn't. Medford , NJ., Information Today, 2004. $44.50; ISBN: 1573871818; 595pp. (ASIST Monograph Series). Compare prices / Buy

    Reviewed by Dr. Mohamed Taher

    Let us start with the background of how one can conceptualize the text, context and management of these lessons. It all started with the information explosion that was noticed in 1960s, received a boost with ‘publish or perish’ winds of 1970s, and then the saga continues even to this day.1 The tremendous output of information led to conscious measures (a.k.a. benchmarks / best practices) and these were systematically developed through the decades of 1980s and 1990. With an input from multi-disciplinary information harnessing strategies (such as, information gathering from non-traditional sources, data mining, customizing, sharing, and building user-friendly repositories) there emerged an independent discipline, called knowledge management (henceforth KM) Chapter 2 has more details on disciplinary perspectives and its impact factor. Interestingly, this nascent field followed the same set of principles--borrowing, lending, intrapolating, extrapolating, etc., -- so common in the formation of new disciplines.2  

    The need and value of KM is well catalogued in the previous work by the Editors, Koenig and Srikantaiah. Consequent to this preliminary task, they felt a need to assess the impact of the field as it evolves with new interfaces. In addition, professionals, in every walk of life, are baffled by knowledge explosion (data, information, ideas, graphics, media, in both forms: analog and digital). Specifically, to knowledge workers it has dawned that the path, loaded with interfaces of all kinds, is not all that rosy. And given the burst of the bubble and impending financial scenario, one would expect knowledge workers to be on 24 X 7 call just-in-time improving benchmarks regularly (Chapter 31 visualizes roles of the knowledge worker as they are evolving).

    Seeing through the lenses of an organization’s intellectual audit, a balanced summary of significant lessons learned could be one that comes as a result of “painful experiences”. These lessons are: Lesson 1, Connection is as important as Collection; Lesson 2, Context is as important as Content; and Lesson 3, Do Not ‘Do’ KM, Apply to specific problems (Chapter 28: Integrating Knowledge Management and Competitive Intelligence, Integrating Offense and Defense, by Steve Barth, Editor and Publisher, KM magazine). This is just a sample of so many lessons that constitute What Works and What Doesn’t.

    Ontologically, knowledge management comprises of three inter-related facets, viz., a) capturing the tacit knowledge, b) storing it in appropriate digital environment and c) a virtual dissemination among all the team players in a knowledge sharing milieu. Based on these categories as well lessons learned, we are in a somewhat better position to visualize the future of this discipline. The book provides sufficient base to state that the discipline is evolving in a positive way. Against the earlier management incarnations, such as, total quality management, business process engineering, and so on, KM is externalizing the processes in best possible ways that would make it an inclusive and accommodative explorer in the journey as a goal towards improvement of knowledge return-on-investment (see some highlights in Chapter 9).

    Knowledge Management Lessons Learned is then a good summation of such information handling anecdotes and narratives. Its contributors’ represent expertise from as varied areas as consultants in business and competitive intelligence, scholars in organizational behavior, operations research specialists, system analysts, executives, bureaucrats, and so on. Contributing thirty-two chapters in 600 pages, these historians of knowledgeware don’t claim to report every thing they learned in this handbook. Nevertheless this team of practitioners and academicians has definitely made a humble, albeit systematic attempt to synthesize the Lessons Learned.  

    Given the extensity of KM as a field, it is not logical to expect that the book cover all tools / knowledge infrastructure that would have aided in this capture, storage and sharing vistas. To name only a few, Lessons Learned databases, e-mails, teleconferencing, telecommuting, bulletin boards, Lotus Notes, instant messenger technologies, etc., are missing in this book. One does get a consolation with a brief discussion on KM solutions in Chapter three. Moreover, if we are to really understand in a holistic manner all the lessons learned, how can we miss “tools for measuring and managing intellectual capital.”3 A future study could analyze the lessons learned in this dimension.  

    This work does, however, focuses on many current issues or themes in KM, such as, Outsourcing (pp. 415-418); Faceted Taxonomy (pp. 215- 217); Resource Description Format (pp. 191-208), Counterintelligence (pp. 437 – 438), Downloading Tacit Knowledge (pp. 371 - 76) etc. The added value which this book portrays is its balance by giving equal importance to quantitative measures (Chapters on Cost Analysis) and qualitative forces (Chapters on Content Management and Competitive Intelligence), thereby contributing positively for a sound knowledge managing system so much desired in today’s volatile business environment. The editors need to be congratulated on a good combination of people, process and programs.  

    Apart from this consolidated knowledge audit, there is a concern tag. A student who uses this book will be surprised to find that Chapters three, twenty-one, and thirty lack any references or citations, whatsoever. This is glaring. Citations are indispensable, because KM by its nature deems this component as ‘most wanted.’ Lest we forget, KM gets it status as a field of managing the knowledge, only if it is accompanied with authenticity. Logically this is a befitting characteristic of a discipline that lays its claim to the following contexts: first, capturing tacit in order to convert it as tangible, second, transform private knowledge to public domain, third mobilize a total solution of casual voices being rendered now as soundproof history, and most importantly the fourth, visualize information. This last factor, acts as a causal effect in strengthening KM’s position as a discipline (despite some calling names, such as fad, fallacy, and oxymoron4).  

    While the book is all-ado-about business and corporate culture, it lacks a similar orientation towards the application of KM in a broader world that includes everyday life, i.e., human development, culture, leisure entertainment, etc. For instance, KM has a potential for funding and greater prospects even in other areas, such as, community development, non-profit / humanitarian / charitable / voluntary sectors, disaster recovery of a neighborhood, etc.5  

    Overall the book is an essential compendium as an alternative knowledgeware to capture tacit information and share intellectual assets.  I would recommend it to all libraries in social and behavioral disciplines.

    ------

    References:

    1. Information Explosion Confirmed, From: zillman, 11/06/2003, www.stargeek.com/item/21997.html

    2. Ganesh Bhatacharya,  “Study of Subjects For Information Work And Service,” Library Science with a Slant To Documentation, 12 (1975), Paper G.  

    3. Stewart, Thomas A. Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations. New York , Doubleday, 1997. Pp. 222-227.  

    4. G E Gorman . "The Uniqueness of Knowledge Management – or the Emperor’s New Clothes?" Library Link, April 2004 http://juno.emeraldinsight.com/vl=3296259/cl=61/nw=1/rpsv/librarylink/management/index.htm#article

    5. “Knowledge Management Society / Community Wise.” (A reading list), by Mohamed Taher. http://taher.cjb.net  


    Web Work: Information Seeking and Knowledge Work on the World Wide Web. By Chun Wei Choo, Brian Detlor, and Don Turnbull. (Norwell, MA., Kluwer Academic Publishers, September 2000). Information Science & Knowledge Management Series, Volume 1. ISBN 0-7923-6460-0. $100.00.  xiv. 219pp. [Review: Information Resources Management Journal Vol. 16 (1) Jan – Mar 2003, 62-64.]  

    Reviewed by Dr. Mohamed Taher

    Compare prices  / Buy

    Web Work: Information Seeking and Knowledge Work on the World Wide Web
    (view table of contents)

     

    Authors Chun Wei Choo
    Brian Detlor
    Don Turnbull
    Publisher Kluwer Academic Pub
    Publication date September 1, 2000
    Pages 219
    Binding Hardcover
    Edition 01
    Book category Adult Non-Fiction
    ISBN 0792364600

     

    Dimensions 0.75 by 10 by 6.75 in.
    Weight 1.15 lbs.
    Published in Europe
    Subjects
     
    Amazon.com editorial descriptions of this work:
    Book Description: This book brings together three great motifs of the network society: the search for and use of information by individuals and groups; the creation and application of knowledge in organizations; and the fundamental transformation of these activities as they take place on the World Wide Web and corporate intranets. As research endeavors, these streams overlap and share conceptual constructs, perspectives, and methods of analysis. Although these overlaps and shared concerns are sometimes apparent in published research, there have been few attempts to connect these ideas explicitly and identify cross-disciplinary themes. This book is an attempt to fill this void.
    Audience: The book's primary audience is faculty and students in masters and doctoral programs in information science, information systems, and management schools. Consultants and organizations designing and implementing intranets and portals will find the book useful in providing research-based insights into how information search and knowledge sharing may be enhanced.

    Information seeking has been the concern of business organizations at least for two decades, and in the Web-based environments since a decade.  This became more obvious with study, research and applications in the areas of knowledge creation, knowledge diffusion and knowledge utilization. Web Work is a significant lead in understanding these perspectives. The continued business-university connectivity is also evident here. The three authors, as faculty of the University of Toronto , attempt to present real-time knowledge management scenario in business organizations. Web Work then, presents significant theoretical and practical vistas of the Web-based knowledge management practices and processes in an organizational framework:

    “This book brings together three great motifs of the network society: the seeking and using of information by individuals and groups; the creation and application of knowledge in organizations; and the fundamental transformation of these activities as they are enacted on the Internet and the World Wide Web (From the Preface p. xi)”

    Web Work has three sections, and the common thread between these is the knowledge management perspective. Section One - Information Seeking and Knowledge Work - describes the theoretical foundation and the broader contexts in which information seeking and knowledge work is situated in organizations. Section Two - Knowledge Work on Intranets - has a much sharper focus, concentrating on the Intranet as a new kind of information infrastructure that is particularly well suited to supporting knowledge work. Section Three - Information Seeking on the World Wide Web - most directly addresses the research and application implications of the World Wide Web as an information source and channel

     

    Contents: Section One - Chapter 1: Information Seeking, pp. 3-28; Chapter: 2 The Structure and Dynamics of Organizational Knowledge, pp. 29 - 71; Section Two - Chapter 3: The Intranet as Infrastructure for Knowledge Work, pp. 71 - 100; Chapter 4: Designing Intranets to Support Knowledge Work, pp.101 - 132; Section Three - Chapter 5: Models of Information Seeking on the World Wide Web, pp. 133 - 158; Chapter 6: Understanding Organizational Web Use, pp. 159 - 188; Coda, pp. 189 – 190; References, pp. 191- 210; Index, pp. 213 - 219.

     

    Web Work adds value to the existing knowledge base in two specific areas. First, it is a valuable textbook on Web-based knowledge assembly in the corporate environment. A major part of Section One mirrors the first author’s book The Knowing Organisation (1998). Section Two contains published and original research. Section Three is, basically research conducted for an understanding of the working of the Web in organizational culture. Re-stated, the first section provides what of the organizational know-how, second demonstrates where the organizational knowledge assembles utilizing the Intranet and Web technologies, and the third tests how does the Web Work in practical situations. 

     

    Second, Web Work provides some insight into the organizational dimensions of the corporate Web activity, which 

    comes right from the desktop of the end-user. This is demonstrated in section three, along with activity log. Interestingly, this real-time interface diminishes the theoretical overload of the book.

     

    Section Three is likely to be the point of attraction for both the practitioners and the decision makers. Hence, it is apt to glance at the sources and results of this study. It deals with the corporate Web Work, and brings in a direct sample from the Canadian mosaic:

     

    “In total, 52 participants from nine different companies participated in various stages of the project. Specifically, the nine participating companies comprise one large international bank, two large utility companies, one large computer hardware and system solution provider, one large magazine publisher; one medium-sized university research library, one medium-sized marketing agency, and two small software consulting firms The participants were predominantly a mix of information technology specialists and managers from various departments: 23 held IT technology / analyst job titles; 15 were managers; 12 held research / marketing / consultant positions; and 2 were administrative support staff. Only a small percentage of participants were novices to the World Wide Web, most routinely used the Web as part of their daily work”(p. 159).

     

    With the help of a questionnaire the book gathered “insights into the frequency and accessibility of the World Wide Web in relation to other information sources typically used by organizational participants in their day-to-day activities” (p. 162). In terms of the frequency of information source usage, the study found that the most frequently used source was Radio/Newspapers. “The World Wide Web was the second-most frequently used source” (p. 162). Other sources, of lesser importance, listed in the Figure 6.3 (p. 163) in the decreasing order of frequency are: Colleagues in same dept.; Managers / Supervisors; External reports / Studies; Business associates; Colleagues in other dept.; Internal memos; Internal reports / Studies; Internal library / Info centre; Customers; Competitors. Other analysis of the data relates to perceived source quality in Figure 6.2, perceived source accessibility in Figure 6.3, etc. Correlating the frequency of source use and perceived source quality in Table 6.2 the study finds that “there is no significant relationship between World Wide Web use and source quality” (p. 164). Interesting is the other findings: “the World Wide Web was the fourth highly-rated source in terms of accessibility” (p. 166).

    In addition to the questionnaire, it uses another tool, WebTracker, to measure the Web Work. This tool reached the desktops of the respondents’ workplace. In this process the authors gathered the tacit knowledge: ‘The study began by recruiting participation from corporations with guarantees of confidentiality and promising to deliver an anonymized report of overall Web usage to compare and contrast individual and inter-organizational Web use’ (p.159).

     

    From practical utility, it has a few limitations. One of these relates to the Web-based tools that are used in instant messaging, or knowledge sharing in real-time environments.  While it deals with groupware in the design of the intranet (pp. 80-81, 90, 92-96), it, however, misses a thorough discussion, on its existence or absence, while dealing with real-time issues, including the Web-based best business practices.

     

    The book is, nevertheless, essential for students / researchers, in information science, information systems, library science, and management schools and more specifically in areas such as: MIS, information management, knowledge management, records management, and digital asset management. Consultants, practitioners and organizations designing Web work would find valuable insights into information seeking and knowledge sharing.

    In short, the book under review does provide a framework for assessment of knowledge management and best business practices. It, also, facilitates furthering knowledge management studies in relation to return on investment in a corporate culture. To achieve this end a direct route is prescribed in this book. It has to be based on the integration of organizational knowledge, i.e. using Choo’s favorite trio: tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge and cultural knowledge.

     

     

    Note: taher.cjb.net: has moved to: https://sites.google.com/site/akbanis

  • Thursday, December 08, 2005

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