Download "A Synthesis of Knowledge Management Failure Factors" by Alan Frost. Free paper released Jan. 2014.


What is Knowledge Management?

The full scope of knowledge management (KM) is not something that is universally accepted. However, before one looks at the differences in the definitions, let's examine the similarities.

KM is about making the right knowledge available to the right people. It is about making sure that an organization can learn, and that it will be able to retrieve and use its knowledge assets in current applications as they are needed. In the words of Peter Drucker it is "the coordination and exploitation of organizational knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage" (Drucker 1999).

Where the disagreement sometimes occurs is in conjunction with the creation of new knowledge. Wellman (2009) limits the scope of KM to lessons learned and the techniques employed for the management of what is already known. He argues that knowledge creation is often perceived as a separate discipline and generally falls under innovation management.

Bukowitz and Williams (1999) link KM directly to tactical and strategic requirements. Its focus is on the use and enhancement of knowledge based assets to enable the firm to respond to these issues. According to this view, the answer to the question "what is knowledge management" would be significantly broader.

A similarly broad definition is presented by Davenport & Prusak (2000), which states that KM "is managing the corporation's knowledge through a systematically and organizationally specified process for acquiring, organizing, sustaining, applying, sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organizational performance and create value."

I will also choose to answer the question "what is knowledge management" in the broader perspective, encompassing not just the exploitation and management of existing knowledge assets, but the also the initiatives involved in the creation and acquisition of new knowledge. In the next article, I will arrive at a specific knowledge management definition.


Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010

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