Knowledge Management definition

Knowledge management is the process of efficiently organising, analysing, retrieving, using and – in some cases – monetising knowledge. Theories and ideas around knowledge management emerged out of the 1990s when, according to Michael J Earl of London Business School, companies began to recognise knowledge as the critical resource and that many businesses poorly managed this critical resource.

Knowledge management will typically align with organisational objectives such as maintaining a competitive advantage or developing new products. In this way knowledge is managed strategically.

Schools of thought around knowledge management are typically technology-focused (using technology to enhance knowledge creation, organisation, sharing and analysis), organisational (using structure and organisational design to enhance knowledge processes) and ecological (focused on developing and using natural ecosystems of people, through an understanding of their social interactions psychology).

One of the key activities within knowledge management nowadays is translating raw data and analytics into usable knowledge, according to Varun Grover and Thomas H. Davenport (2001).

Another important activity is tapping into knowledge that exists purely in employees’ heads and making sure it is easily accessible to others in the organisation – this process has been helped extensively by the rise of social sharing and social tagging software, although it may come under organisational learning rather than knowledge management.


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