The ever growing complexity of market processes continues to increase the importance of knowledge as the organization's core capability to maximize business performance. Current conceptions of knowledge and knowledge representation, however, prove to be highly unproductive. A fundamental problem here is that insight into the nature of knowledge is an inevitable requirement for adequate knowledge management that, nevertheless, is hardly met in business. In this article, we claim that adopting a functional view of the nature of knowledge reveals and restores the relation between knowledge and corporate effectiveness. In a functional approach to conceptualization, functional equivalence instead of observable similarity serves as the basis for classification. The sets of conditions that have to be met in a particular situation are here taken as functional demands. These functional demands may vary across situations, thus precluding the valid possibility of a static one‑on‑ one connection between functions and individual objects. Not the objects as potential instances of classes, but the relationships between objects given their properties and situations, defined in terms of functional demands, become central. These relationships define the concepts, and thus what we know. Classification amounts to relational matching of specified situations to specified objects. The functional view not only enables content improvement through rational classifications, but also enhances process designs, implementations and process maintenance. It also aligns information technology to the new demands set by the knowledge economy by enabling goal‑oriented, transparent and easy‑to‑use‑and‑modify knowledge structures. The paper further describes a real world case taken from the financial services industry to exemplify how a functional analysis of knowledge ‑including to the functional view aligned MatchÂ’ Technology‑ realizes great improvements in business performance.
Keywords: knowledge representation formalisms, functional view, rational classifications, functional equivalence, Match
Reconsidering the tacit‑explicit distinction — A move toward functional (tacit) knowledge management pp23-32
To move beyond the technology focus and adequately embrace knowledge, organisations need a working conceptualisation of knowledge. Within the literature, the dominant conceptualisation converges around the acknowledgement of tacit and explicit types distinctly. This paper argues that a more fundamental approach is necessary. The functional view is a theory on the nature of knowledge that serves as a promising alternative. By placing knowledge within the context of goals and formalisation possibilities, it can help transform organisations from information‑intensive to truly knowledge‑based.