Pictures of Knowledge Management, Developing a Method for Analysing Knowledge Metaphors in Visuals pp405-414
Knowledge management (KM) is difficult to pin down. It means different things in different organisations. The deliberate use of metaphors has been used to communicate what KM is about. This metaphorical communication can be even more enriched using visual as well as language mechanisms: "a picture paints a thousand words" suggests we can capture more resonances of a complex subject like KM through visuals than through a description alone. In addition, visuals are perceived to transcend the limitations of language, which can be an obstacle to communication. Yet, no method currently exists that we can use to identify KM metaphors used in visuals. This paper describes our search for a method to analyse metaphors used in visuals about knowledge management. Our objective was threefold: 1) identifying new metaphors for KM in visuals that can enrich KM theorizing, 2) developing a way to identify which visuals are the most powerful in communicating KM theory, and 3) improving the use of visuals as a way of assessing students studying KM. We found that analysing metaphors used in KM visuals is possible using a method that focuses on the dominant metaphors in a visual.