blogger counters

Monday, June 23, 2008

Knowledge Management: Emerging Ideas On Knowledge Types

The wide popularity and adoption of Web 2.0 applications, with the information sharing, repository development, social bookmarking, community tagging, community-build information bases makes an understanding of information, knowledge, and knowledge development vital. Otherwise, the information and knowledge collected and combined can collapse into chaos. Perhaps the most obvious knowledge management concept when looking at social networks (wikis, bookmarking, etc.) is to look at knowledge as a social construct. However, this may not be the most useful for purposes of classification for retrieval, and for ranking knowledge from the point of view of usefulness or commercial viability.


So, as a result, several ideas about knowledge and knowledge management have emerged. A brief overview may be helpful, along with a list of useful references for further study. In a recent article, Maria Jakubik (2007) discusses knowledge and knowledge management ideas. Further, her article, which was published in the Journal of Knowledge Management, includes flowcharts that trace the evolution of ideas, as well as a diagram that relates the four emerging ideas to each other.

Jakubik identifies four categories of knowledge management ideas: ontological, epistemological, commodity, and community.

Ontological: The ontological perspective suggests that knowledge is concerned with the nature of reality. Criteria of measurement and evaluation have to do with understanding the nature of the knowledge and the "reality." Is it external? Objective? Ontological views of knowledge look at two subcategories:
a. social
b. individual

Epistemological: The epistemological view looks at knowledge management from a scientific perspective, and seeks to develop systems of classification that incorporate the logic(s) of science, including a "grammar" of science. Is the knowledge explicit? Is it tacit?

Commodity: In this case, knowledge is an asset. As such, its value depends on its utility. In this case, instead of relying on the logic(s) of science, one would look at economics, particularly microeconomics.

Community: Perhaps the most commonly addressed in contemporary discussions of knowledge and knowledge management, this view suggests that knowledge is a function of community interactions. The underpinning concept is the social construction of reality, and the notion that knowledge is socially determined. While this is undoubtedly useful as a knowledge management philosophy, there are limitations, particularly when needing to create classification schemes that respond to an object's usefulness.

Knowledge Management (KM) is a dynamic, quickly evolving field. As collaboration, peer review, sharing, and modification occur in web applications and information manipulation and retrieval, then it will be necessary to develop more schemes and to refine them in an ongoing way.


Boisot, M. (1999), Knowledge Assets, Securing Competitive Advantage in the Information Age, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Brewster, C. and O’Hara, K. (2004), Knowledge Representation with Ontologies: The Present and Future, IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, pp. 72-81.

Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (1991), ‘‘Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: toward a unified view of working, learning and innovation’’, Organization Science, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 40-57.

Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. (1998), ‘‘Organizing knowledge’’, California Management Review, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 90-111.

Burrell, G. and Morgan, G. (2000), Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot.

Clawson, J.G. (1996), ‘‘Mentoring in the information age’’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 6-15.

Davenport, T. and Prusak, L. (2000), Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

Fahey, L. and Prusak, L. (1998), ‘‘The eleven deadliest sins of knowledge management’’, California Management Review, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 59-79.

Fuller, S. (2002), Knowledge Management Foundations, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, MA.

Garvey, B. and Williamson, B. (2002), Beyond Knowledge Management, Dialogue, Creativity and Corporate Curriculum, Financial Times/Prentice-Hall, Harlow.

Jakubic, M. (2007), "Exploring the knowledge landscape: four emerging views of knowledge" Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 6-19.

Jashapara, A. (2004), Knowledge Management: An Integrated Approach, FT Prentice-Hall, Harlow.

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991), Situated Learning – Legitimate Peripherial Participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Mika, P. (2005), ‘‘Social networks and the semantic web: the next challenge’’, IEEE Intelligent Systems, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 82-5.

Mische, M.A. (2001), Strategic Renewal, Organizational Change for Competitive Advantage, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Nonaka, I. (1994), ‘‘A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation’’, Organization Science, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 14-37.

Nonaka, I. and Konno, N. (1998), ‘‘The concept of ‘Ba’: building foundation for knowledge creation’’, California Management Review, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 40-54.

Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. (1995), The Knowledge-Creating Company, How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Orr, J.E. (1990), ‘‘Sharing knowledge, celebrating identity: community memory in a service culture’’, in Middleton, D. and Edwards, D. (Eds), Collective Remembering, Sage, Newbury Park, CA, pp. 169-89.

Pfeffer, J. and Sutton, R.I. (1999), The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Polanyi, M. (1975), ‘‘Personal Knowledge’’, in Polanyi, M. and Prosch, H. (Eds), Meaning, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, pp. 22-45.

Searle, J.R. (1996), The Construction of Social Reality, Penguin, London.

Senge, P., Scharmer, C.O., Jaworski, J. and Flowers, B.S. (2005), Presence, Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London.

Skyrme, D.J. (2003), Knowledge Networking, Creating the Collaborative Enterprise, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, MA.

Smith, M.K. (2003), ‘‘Communities of practice’’, The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education, available at:

Spender, J.-C. (1996a), ‘‘Organizational knowledge, learning, and memory: three concepts in search for a theory’’, Journal of Organizational Change, Vol. 9, pp. 63-78.

Spender, J.-C. (1996b), ‘‘Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm’’, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17, pp. 45-62.

Spender, J.-C. (1998), ‘‘Pluralist epistemology and the knowledge-based theory of the firm’’, Organization, Vol. 5, pp. 233-56.

Stacey, R.D. (2004), Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations, Learning and Knowledge Creation, Routledge, London.

von Krogh, G., Ichijo, K. and Nonaka, I. (2000a), Enabling Knowledge Creation, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

von Krogh, G., Nonaka, I. and Nishiguchi, T. (2000b), Knowledge Creation: A Source of Value, Macmillan Press, London.

Wenger, E. (1998), Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wenger, E. (2000), ‘‘Communities of practice and social learning systems’’, Organizations, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 225-46.

Wenger, E. and Snyder, W.M. (2000), ‘‘Communities of practice: the organizational frontier’’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 78 No. 1, pp. 139-45.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. and Snyder, W.M. (2002), Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

Blog Archive