Knowledge Management and Knowledge-Based Organizations.
EDITORS: Jatinder N.D. Gupta, Sushil K. Sharma
PUBLISHER: Idea Group
PUBLICATION DATE: 2004
LENGTH: 373 pages
PRICE: $79.95 U.S.
Knowledge management (KM) was once on the lips of technology vendors and on the minds of information professionals. It ceded its headline status to compliance some time ago but, like compliance, it represents a set of issues that will remain important to information management professionals for the long term. Academic research continues to explore KM and produce insights and tools that will be of great value to information professionals. A new book, Creating Knowledge Based Organizations, edited by Jatinder Gupta and Sushil Sharma, is an example of such research.
The objective of the book is to provide a theoretical foundation for the creation of knowledge-based organizations. Despite the active verb in the title, the book is not a how-to guide for building such organizations--or even a blueprint. Rather, it is more like an attempt to convey the basic architectural principles that would go into the construction of knowledge-based organizations.
While the core topic of the book is KM as it is generally understood, the focus on knowledge-based organizations extends its scope to include anything that contributes to the intelligence of an organization, including, for example, organizational learning and e-commerce. The authors are mainly academicians with specialties in the area of computer information systems. The audience for which the book is best suited would similarly be information system professionals, though many essays will be of interest to information professionals in general. The essays have extensive bibliographies, and there is an index at the end of the book.
The work is divided into five sections: Section I, "Knowledge Based Organizations"; Section II, "Evolving Electronic Markets"; Section III, "Knowledge Management"; Section IV, "Learning Organizations"; and Section V, "Future Organizations." Each section is comprised of essays written by different authors, often groups of authors. The breadth of topics covered is wide; however, their relevance to the broader audience of information professionals varies.
Sections I and III form the core material on KM. They should be interesting and useful to records professionals attempting to apply and extend their competencies into the KM domain. Section II focuses on system architectures and models for electronic commerce. There is also an essay on application service provider (ASP) business models. The value and relevance of these papers to records professionals is questionable.
Sections IV and V fall somewhere in the middle on the relevance continuum. Though promising as topics, the papers tend to be too narrow and speculative to shed much light on issues in records and information management (RIM).
The two sections explicitly on KM include some fine contributions. The introductory chapter, "An Overview of Knowledge Management," describes the history of the field and provides a number of tables and graphs that depict key aspects of KM, including processes and components. For example, one table lists core disciplines and technologies. Strangely, records management is omitted, but library science does make it on the list. The second paper in the section, "Information Technology Assessment for Knowledge Management," will also be of great help to RIM professionals. The author uses tables and flow charts to layout a technology model for KM similar to the Open System Interconnect (OSI) model familiar to students of network architectures. The different levels in the model are well explained. The description of the knowledge repository level, situated in the middle, will be of particular interest to RIM professionals as it is there that their expertise will be directly applicable.
Turning to Section III, "Knowledge Management," RIM professionals will find one essay of particular relevance in Mark Nissen's contribution, "Inducing Enterprise Knowledge Flows." At the heart of the paper is a framework for describing knowledge flows in an enterprise along the dimensions of explicitness and reach. Using a three dimensional line graph, Nissen shows how particular knowledge flows, actual and ideal, can be represented across different departments in an organization. Other essays in the section discuss system design methodologies and practices.
An unfortunate problem with the book is that a number of contributions are so plagued by poor writing mechanics and inadequate proof reading that they are almost unreadable. For example, one paper that is otherwise well written references a standard definition of knowledge as "just true belief" when the definition is "justified true belief." Because the point of the definition is to distinguish mere belief from knowledge, the mistake lends itself to confusion. Other papers garble key points repeatedly.
There are enough good papers in this collection, though, that a close reading will be rewarded, but readers should expect an uneven ride.
Norman Mooradian, Ph.D., CDIA, is chief EDM consultant at Cook/Arthur Inc., Upland, California. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
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|Publication:||Information Management Journal|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2004|
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