In recent decades, the term of “knowledge management” has become very popular, however, it should be noted that its categorical framework is rather vague. Knowledge management can be defined as the art of creating value from intangible assets of the organization as a purposeful process of conversion of the knowledge into value. Knowledge management leads to changes in the mindset of many managers to deviate from a variety of obsolete, orthodox approaches.
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The main goal of the knowledge management is the creation of new and more powerful competitive advantages due to the effectiveness of the information available (Atwood, 2009). The following concepts are close to knowledge management: the re-engineering, instructional organization, human capital, information technology, individual marketing, and management of relations with consumers.
The Purpose of Knowledge Management Research
Despite the abundance of books, publications and research in the field of knowledge management, still there is no unified approach to this discipline or even a universally accepted definition. Thus, this conception and its constituents should be thoroughly investigated by the scholars. Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy (2005) in their article “Doing Knowledge Management” introduce the idea of the necessity of doing knowledge management in every human activity.
They emphasize that knowledge management is of vital significance for positive shifts in the productivity of employees’ work and the bottom line of the company. It is the most appropriate methodology to decide on the most effective ways of organization’s management. It is one of the primary instruments of comprehension the relevant business tendencies and solutions. Knowledge management is aimed at the increase of corporation’s marketability (McInerney & Koenig, 2011).
The top tasks of this concept are:
- the achievement of goals of the organization through the growth of intellectual capital and its practical use (Hsu & Sabherwal, 2012);
- the improvement of the efficiency of decision-making;
- the creation of prerequisites for the emergence of innovation;
- training and motivation of employees;
- the advance of the processes of design, manufacturing, procurement and marketing;
- the use of benchmarking in all spheres of activity (Ghuman, 2010).
The basic intention of this article is in the understanding of the actual role of KM practitioners. The authors provide the analysis of the knowledge management process in order to clarify whether they manage their essential functions or not.
The investigators analyze the activity of the knowledge management practitioners in order to determine the methods they use in their work. The authors bring up an issue whether K M practitioners just use common thinking and thorough analysis for the organization of their work, or they apply various additional techniques and instruments. These extra techniques include information search, applying various advanced technologies, the analysis of data from social networks and communication with the experts and employees practicing the same tasks.
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If we try to compile a list of areas in which knowledge management has proven to be effective, this list would be endless. The problem of knowledge sharing, incentives for employees to participate in the process of accumulation and use of collective knowledge and the implementation of knowledge management systems are relevant to all sectors of the economy (Dalkir, 2011).
Even if the company operates in the area where competitive advantages do not play a decisive role in business development and innovation are not the main criterion of success, knowledge management is still necessary. In addition, we live in the era of ever-increasing globalization, rapid change and interaction. Nowadays, knowledge management is not just a tool of wealth accumulation; it is a mean of survival. As a relatively new conception, there is a demand for the profound investigation of his phenomenon and its essential components.
Business Processes and Outcomes
The scholars also investigate the knowledge management as a complex of various processes and effective activities. Firestone and McElroy distinguish three primary business processes. Operational processes deal with knowledge and need for access to information and learning. However, these processes are not responsible for the production and distribution of knowledge. Business outcomes of the enterprise are evaluated by the system of economic indicators such as gross and marketable products, the number of sales, profit. Profit is the index of the enterprise activity, which depends on the level of competitiveness of production, the cost of production, quality and quantity of the output, productivity, utilization of production assets. Efficient business processing and business outcomes create a positive business environment.
The authors identify two knowledge processes. Knowledge production concerns the receiving of the information and some extra knowledge. This process is aimed at the distribution of the knowledge to the workers of the company. Knowledge processing outcomes contain the development of efficient business strategies. It creates new organizational models for the improvement of company’s productivity. These outcomes concern operational processes, product and marketing strategies, and the resolutions on human resources selection and management. Knowledge production is not about the performance of these functions directly.
Its top task is to provide the knowledge on the approaches and methods for their effectual realization. Knowledge management process is the sector of organization’s work, which primary purpose is in the search for new approaches to get the knowledge and apply it in practice. It is not in the fulfillment all these tasks but in the investigation of the methods of their effective implementation. Its primary goal is not in conducting these operations but in influencing their efficiency. Knowledge management presents the analysis of the methods of getting new information and determines the most appropriate techniques for the creation of effectual innovation (Despres, 2011).
Knowledge management is a set of management actions on the methods and forms of organization of social relations in the sphere of economic production, distribution and use of knowledge aimed at enhancing the efficiency of these processes and implemented in a specific economic framework (enterprises, institutions, units, various forms of collaboration, etc.).
Knowledge management outcomes encompass knowledge processing strategies, such as creative techniques (e. g. brainstorming), detection and extraction of data and texts, tracking environmental management, system document management, business modeling, content analysis, sharing knowledge. KM outcomes depend on knowledge processing policies and regulations, infrastructures, educational and innovation programs. Knowledge management is the phenomenon, which includes all these aspects and organizes the interaction of these components in the most efficient way.
The address of the research provided by Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy
The investigation provided by the scholars emphasizes the idea of the significance of doing knowledge management. The authors analyze all the components and stages of this phenomenon in order to explain the importance of this conception as the natural function performed by every company. Doing knowledge management is multilateral that demands critical overview to comprehend the issues it faces and explain the drawbacks of KM practitioners’ work.
The contributors suggest that given phenomenon demonstrates its ineffectiveness due to the lack of investigation of strategies and techniques in the field of knowledge management. On the example of the Partner HealthCare project, the authors show that the effective work and examination provided by quality-control structures guarantees the efficiency of knowledge management practitioners. Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy suppose that KM practitioners’ contribution to the progress of the company may be increased by the implementation of strict policies and rules of their work as the majority of knowledge managers do not fulfill their responsibilities effectually.
It is caused by the relative novelty of this concept and the lack of research in the sphere of its sound implementation. Thus, the investigators insist on doing knowledge management research with the purpose of increase of the knowledge management efficiency. The study provided by the authors covers nature, context, and the peculiarities of the concept. It contributes to the understanding of the essence of knowledge management as one of the instruments used for the advancement of business.
The authors of the article define the terms of knowledge and information, explain their interaction and influence toward each other. They determine knowledge as the structure of the information. According to this article, there are three types of knowledge: mental, biological, and cultural. They underline the necessity of learning the peculiarities of the phenomenon specific to the current moment. Also, some of the techniques applied by the knowledge management practitioners show their ineffectiveness and inability to stimulate business and perform their top tasks. However, some of them are more than efficient and useful for productive knowledge management.
It proves the lack of the research on this provided topic. The authors describe theoretical specificity and practical implementation of the techniques widely used in knowledge management. They single out advantages and disadvantages of their use in practice. They, also, emphasize that there is a lack of accessibility to the knowledge needed. On the example of the Partners HealthCare case, Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy show the drawbacks of the existing system.
The information provided by the KM practitioners should be evaluated and tested by experts interested in the success of the company. Thus, the authors admit the imperfection of this concept caused by the lack of study and research in this sphere. They suggest possible solutions to this issue as the concept of knowledge management still cause the confusion. The significance of the knowledge management research is evident and indisputable.
Any knowledge is based on specific information and its availability. However, one should have the capacity for reasoning and logical conclusion to be able to extract knowledge from existing information. The organization must take certain steps aimed at stimulating the acquisition of information and its transformation into knowledge. The main goal of knowledge management is the creation of new and more powerful competitive advantages.
Knowledge management is not a standalone, not an independent activity, but an integral part of the management of any organization. Such management is a model that integrates the actions associated with knowledge creation, dissemination, and utilization, as well as the development of innovation and learning. Thus, the success of the company considerably depends on the efficiency of knowledge management.
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Atwood, C. (2009). Knowledge Management Basics. Alexandria, Va.: ASTD Press.
Dalkir, K. (2011). Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Despres, C. (2011). Leading Issues in Knowledge Management. Reading, UK.: Academic Publishing International.
Firestone, J., & McElroy, M. (2005). Doing knowledge management. The Learning Organization,12(2), 189-212. Web.
Ghuman, K. (2010). Management: Concepts, Practice & Cases. New Delhi, India: Tata McGraw-Hill.
Hsu, I., & Sabherwal, R. (2012). Relationship between Intellectual Capital and Knowledge Management: An Empirical Investigation. Decision Sciences, 43(3), 489-524. Web.
McInerney, C., & Koenig, M. (2011). Knowledge management (KM) processes in organizations. San Rafael, Calif.: Morgan & Claypool.