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Managing Knowledge Reuse

In previous subsections, I have identified how knowledge is identified, organized, and shared. These issues were discussed from a broad perspective, relevant to both knowledge reuse and knowledge creation (as will be discussed later). In this subsection, I will look at the specific situations involved in knowledge reuse and discuss the different managerial challenges. At the end I summarize the findings and present recommendations.

In this subsection I will focus primarily on the explicit and tacit knowledge distinctions as defined in the subsection on the different types of knowledge.

Three Roles for Knowledge Reuse

First, a quick overview of the knowledge reuse process, and some useful definitions. Markus (2001) identifies three roles in the reuse of knowledge:

As Markus points out, these three functions may involve different people or they may all be done by the same person. e.g. knowledge reuse by a person accessing the documented (explicit) research of someone in a different part of the organization requires that the producer created the documents, that either he or someone else prepared them so that they may be understood and retrieved, and that the knowledge consumer retrieved and used it. In other words the roles were filled by two or three people and the process included explicit knowledge capture and sharing across the organization. Alternatively, in another scenario someone may want to use their own documentation later on. This process involves just one person in all three roles and the only function performed is capturing the knowledge in a way that will allow retrieval at a later point.

I would add that for tacit knowledge, the role of intermediary could be defined as the expert himself - since he must present the knowledge (through practice and socialization) in a useable way to his student, team mates, etc. It may also fall upon the person who identified this expert and made it possible for others to reach him, e.g. if a knowledge manager creates an expert profile for publishing on the intranet; this way, the knowledge manager creates an explicit account of what the expert knows rather than promoting externalization of the knowledge itself.

To sum up, someone has to produce the knowledge, someone has to make this knowledge available, and someone has to search for and use this knowledge. This implies not just the capability, but also the willingness to share, to search, and to retrieve.

Knowledge Reuse Situations

Fruchter and Demian (2002) identify two very general types of knowledge reuse:

Problems and Recommendations for Managing knowledge reuse

In the article above, I presented several situations of knowledge re-use that have different advantages, disadvantages, and requirements. I also discussed some general issues that affect the process of reuse.

Drawing upon the work thus far, and bringing in the knowledge sharing issues discussed in the previous subsection, the managerial issues regarding knowledge reuse can be summarized as follows:

Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010
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