Knowledge Management Books
Below you can find a list of knowledge management books that I recommend. These are available through Amazon US, Canada, and UK. Although I do get a small commission on each knowledge management book sold, I did not simply add books to this shop. My contribution is that I have read, reviewed, and rated every book that I make available through this site. Moreover, I will never present a book that I find to be of inadequate quality. I will be adding new books on knowledge management and related subjects on an ongoing basis.
Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice
It is rare to find a book so strong in the practical as well as the theoretical, and for this reason this is currently my top recommended KM book. For instance, few KM books actually go into detail on how to conduct interviews, or list and explain at length the various techniques used for knowledge capture (e.g. learning histories, road maps, action learning, etc.). The information in this book goes beyond the typical case studies or personal experiences found in other texts; the reader is given many tools and instructed clearly on how to use them.
The book covers all the essential elements of KM, including knowledge sharing, knowledge application, organizational culture, knowledge management strategy, and KM tools. The technical side is quite detailed and based around the overall categories of KM tools, i.e. tools for knowledge creation and codification, knowledge sharing and dissemination, and knowledge acquisition and application. There is also a section on the value of KM, which deals with measuring the success of your KM efforts – another area which is often rather lacking in KM literature.
Overall, a very balanced approach, particularly strong on the practical side.
Coping With Continuous Change in the Business Environment: Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Technology
This is perhaps the best book I have read that combines knowledge management (KM) and KM systems (KMS). The book is divided into two sections, one dealing with KM in general and the other focusing on the technological aspect. Both are very comprehensive, with the theoretical section presenting an in-depth and very well organized overview of organizational learning, organizational culture, knowledge creation, KM, and so on. However, it is the section on technology that makes the book truly stand out, presenting an exhaustive look at all the major KMS categories and offering a level of detail that is rare in KM books.
If I could leverage any single criticism to this book, it is perhaps that the technological aspect is slightly over-emphasised. The authors regard technology as one of several KM enablers, which is a debatable position. However, this does not in any way detract from the quality of this book, which remains my top recommendation for a single work that combines KM and KMS.
Knowledge Retention: Strategies and Solutions
This is a book that deals with a very specific part of knowledge management (KM), namely knowledge retention (KR). KR is a discipline concerned with the managerial initiatives focused on assessing and retaining the most critical knowledge within the firm, particularly when faced with the potential loss of employees, e.g. due to retirement. It is written by one of the most recognized experts in the field of KM, and it is quite possibly the most important work within KR.
The book itself is very concise and very practically-oriented. The theory behind KR is handled in the first few chapters, and the rest of the book presents tools, including interview questions & frameworks, as well as several in-depth case studies. Some of the important elements covered in the book are: the assessment of critical knowledge, an overview of key KR techniques, learning from others, calculating knowledge loss, and the development of a KR framework.
This remains one of my favourite KM books. The authors present a logical and methodical theoretical foundation, while including practical examples, stories, quotes, and so on throughout the entire book. The reader can therefore add a practical dimension to the theoretical concepts as he reads the book, or simply skip these extra paragraphs if he so wishes.
The strength of this book comes from its in-depth look at knowledge and KM, including its relationship to elements outside the boundaries of the firm, all the while maintaining a strong human focus without neglecting the effect of technology. The book also includes a questionnaire that companies can use to assess their KM aptitude.
Naturally, due to the fact that the book is from 2001, the information on knowledge management systems is not particularly current. Nonetheless, it remains an excellent book on knowledge management.
This is one of the most influential and essential books in the field of KM. It also includes one of the best and most frequently used definitions of knowledge that I have come across. The only reason I did not give this book maximum marks is simply because by now some of the content is a bit outdated.
The book progresses from a breakdown and analysis of knowledge and the dynamics of knowledge markets; to concepts such as knowledge generation, codification, and transfer; before looking more closely at KM and KM projects.
The book presents a perfect balance between the theoretical and the practical. For the former, the authors present concepts that have since become fundamental to the field (and are generally not as well outlined in other texts). These include the dynamics of knowledge markets, the types of knowledge generation, and the factors involved in codification. For the practical side, the authors draw upon their extensive experience and issues such as the types of KM projects, success factors, the role of information technology, and different approaches to KM.
In my opinion, this perhaps the single most important text within the field, suitable for all KM students & practitioners.