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Building Knowledge Management Frameworks and Models

At this stage we have had a look at the components and definitions that related to knowledge management (KM). This section deals with knowledge management frameworks and models. The old saying that a picture paints a thousand words is very much applicable in this case. A good model can integrate various elements and show relationships in a way that is much harder to do in writing.

But first, what are the components of a knowledge management framework? At the most basic level, KM consists of the following steps:

It is important to note that none of these processes are independent and all of them are affected by countless factors. This is why knowledge management frameworks are typically very different and can be presented in a wide variety of ways.

For instance, some models are sequential (as above), and seek to provide a better overview at the expense of "realism". Other models display overlapping processes in an attempt to simulate what actually occurs inside an organization. The problem with the latter is that they are often hard to grasp and can only convey limited information so as not to become incomprehensible. In the following section I will provide examples of both.

Since KM is closely related or dependant on other disciplines (such as strategy, information management, project management, etc.) and it is enabled by a wide range of processes and systems, a model can become very complex indeed.

This is why there is no such thing as an integrated and fully detailed knowledge management framework, i.e. one that captures all relevant aspects with appropriate detail. Each model must choose its focus and origin, as well as its limitations.

There are essentially three questions that a knowledge management framework may choose to answer:

"What/how" refers to the actual processes of knowledge management.
"Why" refers to an indication of the reasons behind using one method or the other.
"When" refers to the timing for using one method or another, and is very closely related to "why".

The latter two questions are usually tackled in more strategic oriented models that take a broader perspective. What/how is usually dealt with in process oriented models that focus on an understanding of the tools available to the manager. These kinds of models are generally more common particularly since the role of knowledge management can be defined far more narrowly than I have chosen to do on this site.

In the following section I will a few solid KM models dealing with all the aspects I have discussed above. However, before I conclude, I will present a very useful framework outlined by Botha et al (2008) titled the "knowledge management broad categories".


You don't know Knowledge Discovery  Explore, Research, Create 
You know Knowledge Repository
(Knowledge Base)
Knowledge Sharing and Transfer
Knowledge you have Knowledge you don't have

Here, one can see the role of knowledge management from a broad perspective (very similar to the one adopted on this site), i.e. which includes more than just knowledge sharing/access/etc, but also new knowledge creation. These categories provide a solid overview of the components of any knowledge management framework focusing on the what/how question.


Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010
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