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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Strategic Importance Of Knowledge Management - 3110 words
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.. tion is closely related to 'learning by doing'. Explicit knowledge has to be actualized through action and practice. When knowledge is internalized to become part of individuals' tacit knowledge bases in the form of shared mental models or technical know-how, it becomes a valuable asset. This tacit knowledge accumulated at the individual level can then set off a new spiral of knowledge creation when it is shared with others through socialization.Figure 2: Three elements of the knowledge-creating processNonaka et al.
(2000) extended the SECI model to include three elements of knowledge creation: the SECI process, Ba, and the moderator of the knowledge creating process. The first element of the model is the SECI process which, as explained above, places an emphasis on ''knowledge conversion'', that is the creation of knowledge through explicit and tacit knowledge interactions [Fig.2]. The second element of the model, Ba, refers to the context for knowledge creation ''a shared context in which knowledge is shared, created and utilized''. The last element of the model is knowledge assets that are ''firm-specific resources that are indispensable to create values for the firm''. These knowledge assets are the inputs, outputs, and moderator of the knowledge-creating process
The three elements of knowledge creation have to interact with each other to form the knowledge spiral that creates knowledge The central focus of Nonaka et al.'s (2000) work is the processes of conversion between tacit and explicit knowledge and the cultural context within which this knowledge creation occurs.According to this knowledge-creating process, knowledge creation is a continuous, self-transcending process. Knowledge is created through the interactions amongst individuals or between individuals and their environment. In knowledge creation, micro and macro interact with each other, and changes occur at both the micro and the macro level: an individual (micro) influences and is influenced by the environment (macro) with which he or she interacts.The first element of the knowledge creating process - the SECI model has already been discussed above in detail.The second element of the model - Ba - is the shared context for knowledge creation. Knowledge needs a context to be created in terms of who participates and how they participate. Knowledge also needs a physical context to be created: ``there is no creation without place''. `Ba' (which roughly means `place') offers such a context. Based on the concepts proposed by Kitaro Nishida and Shimizu, ba is defined as a shared context in which knowledge is shared, created and utilized. It is a concept that unifies physical space such as an office space, virtual space such as e-mail, and mental space such as shared ideals. It thus provides the energy, quality and place to perform the individual conversions and to move along the knowledge spiral.
These contexts provide the basis for one to interpret information to create meanings, as in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, ``there are no facts, only interpretations''. Ba lets participants share time and space, and yet it transcends time and space. In knowledge creation, especially in socialization and externalization, it is important for participants to share time and space. A close physical interaction is important in sharing the context and forming a common language among participants.There are four types of ba - originating ba, dialoguing ba, systemising ba and exercising ba. These four types of Ba are defined by two dimensions of interactions - the type of interaction (whether the interaction takes place individually or collectively) and the media used in such interactions (whether the interaction is through face-to-face contact or virtual media such as books, manuals, memos, e-mails or teleconferences). Each ba offers a context for a specific step in the knowledge-creating process, though the respective relationships between each single ba and conversion modes are by no means exclusive.
Building, maintaining and utilising ba is important to facilitate organizational knowledge creation.Knowledge Development Cycle ModelBhatt (2000) provides a model that conceptualizes some discrete phases of a knowledge development cycle as:(1) knowledge creation (Nonaka, 1994);(2) knowledge adoption (Alder, 1989; Alder et al., 1999);(3) knowledge distribution (Prahalad and Hamel, 1990); and(4) knowledge review and revision (Crossan et al., 1999).Because creating the required knowledge (the first phase) for competitive advantage is difficult many organizations adopt knowledge (the second phase) to fulfill their needs. Knowledge adoption minimizes the commitment of organizational resources by adopting knowledge from leading organizations. However, caution has to be taken in this approach, as it is highly unlikely that the institutional and contextual variables of both companies will remain constant to permit the transfer of practice from one organization to another. In other words, knowledge adoption is risky without the appropriate adaptation to the specific organizational context.The third phase of knowledge development cycle is knowledge distribution. The organizational structure plays an important role in distributing knowledge.
Where the organizational structure is centralized or has formal authority, knowledge sharing and distribution is difficult (Huber, 1991; Savary, 1999). On the other hand, when the organizational structure is decentralized or has informal authority, the sharing and distribution of knowledge would be enabled (Broadbent and Lofgren, 1993; Savary, 1999). Thus, the structure of the organization therefore plays a key role in the successful distribution of knowledge within the firm. Knowledge review and revision is the last phase of the cycle and is especially important for organizations. Adopted or created knowledge needs to be evaluated to establish its appropriateness within a particular organizational context. However, a drawback of Bhatt's (2000) model is that it does not determine a specific direction for the knowledge development phases.Different Perspectives on Knowledge ManagementThere are at least four distinct perspectives on knowledge management that must be integrated to implement any long-term strategy.
These four perspectives are:o Strategy/leadership perspective - Senior executives see knowledge management primarily in terms of how it supports strategic business objectives, and the capital market's perception of related intangible assets.o Knowledge content/practice perspective - This view is held by line managers who are more concerned with what knowledge is to be managed and how it is actually applied in practice. In contrast to the CEO's strategic view, the manager of a regional office is more likely to be concerned with what practical knowledge another regional office has that makes it a better performer.o Technology perspective - As would be expected, this view is taken by those in information technology (IT) roles, who view knowledge management as a product of applying information and communication technologies.o Change management/reengineering perspective - This view is taken by OD and HR specialists, or internal experts on business process reengineering and emphasizes the changes in work design, organizational structure, and culture necessary to leverage knowledge.Thus, in practice, the meaning of "knowledge management" for the organization becomes multifaceted and subject to a broad range of interpretations. Failure to recognize and legitimize these different views when trying to communicate with others is an important source of the conceptual confusion that undermines attempts to use knowledge more effectively.Steps In Managing KnowledgeThe management of knowledge usually involves five basic steps:(1) Capturing knowledge - Recording steps involved in solving a particular problem.(2) Storing knowledge - Storing the captured information in, may be, a production system, a data warehouse, or a groupware application.(3) Processing knowledge - This may involve sorting, filtering, organizing, analyzing, comparing, correlating, mining, labeling the knowledge or analyzing it with sophisticated, complex, statistical methods to discover relationships and insights.(4) Sharing knowledge - Knowledge can be shared through information systems or by face-to-face interactions.(5) Using knowledge - The ultimate use of knowledge is to solve problems and advance the goals and objectives of the organization. Technologies For Knowledge ManagementSchultze and Boland Jr. (2000) state that ''Organizations seeking ways to manage their knowledge assets are increasingly turning to information technology for solutions''.
Gray (2000) also views knowledge management systems (KMS) as a class of information system that enables the identification of ''knowledgeable individuals'' within an organization. Further, Zack (1999) acknowledges that there is a recognized role for information technologies (IT) in a KM program. Thus, it is seen that knowledge management inherently uses technological support as a facilitator for effective KM in an organization.Various technologies support the capturing, storing, sharing, and use of information, know-how, and insights within and across communities of people and organizations in order to create knowledge. Although technology is essential for knowledge management, it should not be over emphasized. Technology helps in transforming knowledge management from a concept to a business reality that solves problems and exploits opportunities.Technologies that are more pervasive in knowledge management implementations are highlighted below:Network knowledge infrastructureAccording to Huang et al.
(1999), one of the key objectives of using technology for knowledge management is to provide access to valuable information and codified knowledge on a timely basis.Many technology options are available for knowledge management namely, knowledge representation, document management, data mining, data warehousing, knowledge bases, expert systems, artificial intelligence, enterprise resource planning, legacy systems, decision support, groupware, the Internet, intranets, network computing, e-mail, web conferencing, and multimedia. Selection of the technology depends upon the problems that one is trying to solve, the information and knowledge needed, the number of locations one needs to link to, etc.Today, most large organizations have some form of corporate intranet and extranet in place. They, then, become the main infrastructure to support the new corporate wealth of information and knowledge.Knowledge-sharing intranetsIntranets, by their very nature, reflect a knowledge management strategy by providing a centralized approach and a common architecture for managing information and knowledge. Intranets provide a common electronic platform for capturing, storing, and sharing information and knowledge. One popular approach to utilizing the firm's intranet facility for knowledge sharing is the corporate knowledge portal.
This portal basically consists of a browser-based application that allows knowledge workers to gain access to, collaborate with, make decisions about, and take action on a wide variety of business-related problems, regardless of the staff location or departmental affiliation, the location of the information, or the format in which the information is captured and stored.Extranets and external knowledge sharing With the internal needs being satisfied by the organization's intranets, there is an urgent need to find better ways of external knowledge sharing with customers and business partners. Extranets are extremely powerful systems that meet these needs of solving problems and streamlining processes in areas such as marketing, sales and distribution, finance, engineering and customer service, thereby creating operational efficiencies for both the organization and its external constituents (Huang et al., 1999).Groupware technologies and collaborationGroupware is a system designed to support and accelerate joint work group activities by enabling communication, and the sharing and coordination of information using computers and networks. Among the several groupware applications available, the more popular ones are Lotus Notes, Domino, Microsoft Exchange, and Office 2000. The objective would be to enable the organization to make or save money. The process of achieving this goal should be documented and placed in the organization' s knowledge memory.
Dow Chemical saved more than $4 million through better management of patents alone. Knowledge sharing strategies of Buckman Laboratories led to big sales that would not have happened without employing new knowledge management ideas.Intra-firm knowledge managementKnowledge management and strategic management writers tend to emphasize monolithic "firms" (e.g. Barney, 1991). A key concern of this literature is the transfer of knowledge within the firm (Goh, 2002). Lam, amongst others, suggests that tacit knowledge is of central concern, thereby pointing to the significance of spatial proximity in the development and diffusion of tacit knowledge.
This assumes considerable significance considering that "knowledge" is one that is locally obtained and unevenly distributed. Further, a site or facility provides the unique context for interaction and diffusion through unusually rich face-to-face interaction, allowing tacit knowledge development and diffusion. This is particularly important in operations, where advances are often minute and incremental and where "learning" and "innovation" are often indistinguishable from "normal operations" (Johnsen, 1992; Eckert, 2000).Ferdows' (1999) model suggests a contingency relationship between the rate of change of operational knowledge, the extent to which it is codifiable, and the roles of facilities within an intra-firm network. But, although examining the intra-firm issues, Ferdows does not link them to inter-firm knowledge management.Inter-firm knowledge managementA vital aspect of firms' knowledge assets are those that are developed and reproduced in network relationships (Dyer and Singh, 1998). Furthermore, following Cohen (1990), it can be suggested that a firm's ''absorptive capacity'' - its ability to take on new knowledge - varies depending on the particular counterpart with whom it is interacting. The IMP interaction model (Hakansson, 1982) provides a way of considering the relationship between actors (firms, plants, or individuals, depending on the focus).
Briefly, interaction is characterized as a series of episodes, involving product/service, social, information and financial exchange.It is suggested that the ability to transfer knowledge between firms - their mutual ''absorptive capacity'' - changes over time, and that face-to-face relationships brought about by proximity of facilities promotes tacit knowledge between firms. Combining the issues of single- and multi-site, and inter- and intra-firm knowledge then, with the now questionable distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge types, presents a new challenge.KM And Competitive AdvantageKnowledge is fast becoming a key asset and a potential source of competitive advantage. As an example physical assets accounted for 62.8% of the total market value of U.S. manufacturing firms in 1980 but only 37.9% in 1991. The remainder of the market value is composed of intangible assets primarily in form of intellectual capital.It is to be understood that knowledge is tantamount to power and members in an organization possessing key skills can secure for themselves a base of practical power. Managers must therefore accept it as an integral part of their jobs and must control how to use it (while preventing its misuse) to further their own and organizational goals.The competitive opportunity enabled by knowledge management (KM) is potentially of great magnitude and strategic importance for organizations. Toffler (1990) suggests that today's society has been distinguished by, and rapidly changed into, a ''knowledge-based society''.
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