Knowledge Management - A Review
Knowledge has long been considered an intangible asset that can only be passed on from a teacher to his pupils through years of teaching and knowledge transfer. However, present day technological advancements and the increasingly dynamic nature of knowledge have led to the dissolution of the "sacred" teacher-pupil affiliation. Knowledge, now, is more of an entity that can be codified, stored, mined and retrieved as and when required, by any one and anywhere around the world. Albert Einstein's quote, "The only source of knowledge is experience", is now more of an anecdote than reality, as more and more organizations are realizing that knowledge learned from one's experience can be codified, i.e. transformed into knowledge "packets" that can be stored and transferred to others. Business organizations have been the primary users of such codified knowledge, as huge amounts of information runs through the various divisions of an organization, which can be integrated and used for making more profitable, strategic and constructive business decisions. Thus, the need for knowledge management arose, wherein, chunks of codified knowledge has to be appropriately managed for ease of retrieval and use.
The influential paper, "Managing Codified Knowledge" by Zack (1999) is reviewed here. The definition of knowledge and knowledge management, the benefits of knowledge management, the author's rhetoric on the architecture of knowledge management and its importance in modern business organizations are discussed here. This paper also attempts to analyze two case studies presented by the author, and a brief summarization of the author's key findings is also intended.
The author discusses knowledge and knowledge management mainly in the context of business organizations. The key points are highlighted as follows:
I. Knowledge and Knowledge Management
The article reviewed here aims at describing how an organization can configure its resources and capabilities in order to leverage its codified knowledge. Codification of knowledge refers to the conversion of tacit knowledge (such as experience and expertise) to explicit knowledge to make it more accessible and useful for others. The author first introduces the concept of organizational knowledge followed by describing the characteristics of explicit knowledge, its benefits in imparting a competitive advantage to the organization, the design of information products and the appropriate architecture for management of explicit knowledge. Based on this framework, the author further derives two fundamental approaches, namely integrative and interactive, each of which is further exemplified by case studies of successful business organizations.
Zack (1999, p. 2) states, "The concept of treating organizational knowledge as a valuable strategic asset has been popularized by leading management and organization theorists", such as Brown and Duguid (1991), Davenport, Jarvenpaa and Beers (1996),...