Vanessa Lawrence's keynote speech on Ordnance Survey: underpinning Great Britain with geographic information set the tone for the conference, and set the standard for key aspects of knowledge management and knowledge ecologies. The Ordnance Survey (OS) is an exemplary case study of how to create well mapped data and maximise its use in today's digital ecologies. This case study combines the best aspects of interoperability at the level of data with the best aspects of dynamic, complex and even open systems at the level of information and knowledge creation and exchange. Intelligently mapped data is at the heart of the OS topological information system, creating uniquely identified data objects which are the building blocks for the four layers of the Master Map: topography, address, integrated transport, and imagery.
More importantly from a knowledge management point of view, this integrated Master Map crosses seamlessly from data base management, to information systems, to traditional knowledge management and into knowledge ecologies. A range of commercial and community organisations can build on the Master Map, using elements from it, to create their own maps from their own perspectives, such as housing, health care, flood management, or policing. These different, user‑generated derivative maps create a knowledge ecology, which is a dynamic, flexible, and adaptable set of meta‑mappings (literally and figuratively) or what might be called 'map‑ups', which people can read, write and contribute to, link to, and mash‑up with their own data.
The intelligent data is itself dynamic and changing, and in a ""mobile, transient society and economy where location is a dynamic resource within business"" (Lawrence op. cit.), the data has to be accurate and constantly updated. The figures are impressive: 460M data fields, 1.8M changes per annum, 0.5M updates per annum, of which 99.9% are updated or added within 6 months of completion on the ground, and a potential resolution of 20mm for information on reticulation.
The Open Space initiative, for non‑commercial use only, provides a base and a framework for social mapping or map‑ups. In the first year it involved 900 developers and 156k visitors. The Explore programme allows people to create routes, tag points of interest, and share pictures, news and events.
Lawrence summed up the Ordnance Survey approach as the challenge to ""establish principles to make information sources accessible and connectable"", an elegantly simple framework for knowledge management in the service of knowledge ecologies.
Maracine et al describe knowledge ecosystems (KE) as a new kind of digital ecosystem which is an ""active and dynamic process, that … helps the building, growth, sharing and forgetting of knowledge"". They explore this in healthcare systems for home rehabilitation, which differ from other KEs because of the role and importance of the patient: in practice the entire ""life"" of the ecosystem gravitates around the patient and their personal rehabilitation chain.
Managing Intellectual Capital is now central to the EU strategy, so small and medium sized companies (SME's) must play their part in this. Mertins, Wang and Will's study analyses the different rankings of IC factors across 5 major economic sectors, and leads to some interesting conclusions, for instance that ""the traditional distinction between Industry and Services is improper for researching the strategic impact of IC. Rather companies should be classified by comparing the actual business models"".
Third sector organisations are also applying KM. In this case study, Reilly describes the way resource priorities, programme funding and dispersed Authority inhibit successful KM. There is widespread support for the discovery of knowledge, but it is subject to diverse interpretation, and consensus on how to apply it is difficult to achieve. Reilly proposes a relational knowledge domain to promote a more holistic approach in value driven organisations, to integrate and optimise KM. There seems to be similar issues in the corporate sector too, as Brännström and Giuliani have found, namely that one of the difficulties in IC reporting is that ""goodwill is substantially based not on particular components of IC, but on the synergies between them"". Another problem with IC reporting, and with FRS IFRS3 in particular is that some firms deliberately ""want to continue to use goodwill as a 'blackbox' to avoid disclosing some items to analytic scrutiny by outsiders"".
The link between descriptions and analyses of real business situations and personal experience can be used to build a real consensus. The Socratic Dialogue (Remenyi & Griffiths) involves much more than a simple verbal agreement. Participants try to clarify the meaning of what has just been said by testing it against their own experiences. In this way the limitations of individual experience which stand in the way of a clear understanding can be made conscious, and these limitations can hopefully be transcended.
Garcia‑Perez & Ayres's paper outlines an approach where elicitation and transfer, and possibly also creation, are carried out in one process. This involves identifying key experts and stakeholders, who then work together to develop a representation of the experts' domain knowledge. They conclude that ""communicational problems are minimised because the main interaction will take place between domain experts and their stakeholders. Also, discussion of their own experience with colleagues through a process of modelling their expertise significantly increases experts' motivation to share knowledge"".
Begley et al outline their 'new' theory of the firm, its relationship to networked society, and to other theories of the firm, within KM. They see the firm as a 'connected temporary coalition' perspective (based on Taylor, 1999; 2006), within an interactive model of the firm, containing diverse types of relationships, collections of both closely coupled and loosely coupled systems that configure, dissolve and reconfigure over time, forming a distinct capability in leveraging collective knowledge assets.
A new approach to systems development for KM is presented by Moteleb & Woodman, which is based in action research and Grounded Theory, using a number of business problems experienced by organizations. The KMSD approach is highly participatory, requiring full involvement of members of an organization, in three interacting aspects: envisioning knowledge work behaviour, design of knowledge management system (KMS), and identifying technology options. The KMS design integrates organizational, social and technological aspects of the system.
Landwitch et al have developed a more interactive and dynamic process for Information Retrieval in which the IR systems explicitly support the user's query requirements, but also their cognitive abilities, to realize a dynamic dialogue between the user and the system. This is aimed at satisfying both the information needs of the users, and the innovation‑process. Smith deals with the specifically human elements of what could also be called knowledge ecology, integrating cultural and process issues, and ""issues of organisational adaptation, survival and competence in and increasingly discontinuous environment. Rather than being a process problem, poor knowledge emergence from a new system is more likely to be a communication and learning problem where there is a failure to engage with the individuals who are within the system"".
Vedteramo & de Carolis advocate a community‑based approach to KM in the growing sector of project‑based organizations. Projects are typically temporary, and much learning may be lost when they disband, the storage of lessons learned is not effective, the databases are not widely used and the people are too engaged in their projects to share knowledge or help other people cope with similar problems. Vedteramo suggests the adoption of McDermott (1999)'s ""double knit organisation"", integrating project teams and communities of practice.
Webb uses open ended diaries and strategically resourced reflection on the diaries, and provides material on management and complexity theory for managers to use, to reflect on and make sense of their practice and learn from it. This provides ""multiple first person accounts and opened up new avenues of exploration and … [suggests that is could also be used for] the stimulation, initiation and development of knowledge transfer activities on particular themes.
Koolmees et al have developed and tested a new Knowledge Management Scan which assesses six basic KM abilities in an organisation , based on a survey of 15 statements per ability, and is based on work on value based KM, and different organisational learning types. The abilities are: to produce, anticipate, respond, learn, create and to last. The Scan produces an understanding of the organisation's overall learning ability, in terms of single, double and triple loop learning.
Harorimana's case studies describe how knowledge gatekeepers contribute to the benefits of the firm's internal capabilities, without being paid for their role. However, the informal nature of people's roles as gatekeepers makes their job difficult to recognize, and therefore requires some form or rewards.
Evans and Wensley's research on network structure and trust explores the extent to which network principles determine the level of trust in Communities of Practice. They provide a detailed analysis of the how trust is established and how it functions in CoP: in self‑directed teams, mutual trust takes the place of supervision, and this has a positive impact on knowledge sharing and on innovation.
Rees and Protheroe recommend the joint development of KM and kaizen practices (continuous improvement), embedded into the redevelopment of an existing strategy set, to facilitate the development of knowledge value, and show how this is implemented in the higher education sector.
Aidemark points out the ongoing confusion in the theoretical base of KM, and specifically highlights the complexity and paradoxes that arise between knowledge as information on the one hand, and as competence (or know‑how) on the other hand, and provides models which should improve our awareness of these problems, and help us in developing strategy.
And finally, Devane and Wison, in their paper on Non‑managed Knowledge, provide an interesting critique of traditional approaches to knowledge 'management' and knowledge transfer, and suggests that Coverdale's focus on the development of skills is a better foundation for a company's success. They argue that knowledge should not be seen as something extrinsic, and external that can be managed 'for' individuals, but rather as something intrinsic, in which case the best approach is to allow individuals to manage it themselves.
The papers in this special edition provide new ideas, new critiques, and new research on KM. Most of them in some way also address the very welcome shift from 'management' to 'ecologies', which adds more emphasis on personal roles and at the same time, more emphasis on networking, content and knowledge creation beyond the confines of the traditional Weberian institution. Lawrence's approach is an interesting exemplar of how this can be done, as it integrates well mapped data and basic information structures with flexible, customisable and personalisable knowledge creation and sharing. Perhaps this could be called 'connectable interoperability'?
Prof. W.B. Lee is Director of the Knowledge Management Research Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prof. Lee is the editor of the Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, and International Journal of Knowledge and Systems Science. He established the Knowledge Solution Laboratory, the first of its kind in Hong Kong and has pioneered research and practice of knowledge management and knowledge audit in various organizations. Prof. Lee and his team have launched Asia’s first on‑line MSc. Program in Knowledge Management. His research interest includes manufacturing systems, knowledge management, organizational learning and intellectual capital‑based management.
The 7th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organizational Learning (ICICKM 2010) was hosted by the Knowledge Management Research Centre ,The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China, the first time in Asia.
The conference is well attended by more than 100 delegates from over 30 countries and regions. This conference series is unique in the sense that it unifies all the important themes in this multidisciplinary area which can be pursued from either the knowledge management, intellectual capital management or organizational learning perspectives or any combinations of them. The relationship between these themes is important. It is only through the effective management of our knowledge assets and the continuous learning of individuals, teams and organization that we are able to build the intellectual capital which is the underlying power driving corporation’s future growth.
Apart from the rich tacit knowledge exchange among delegates during the conference, the conference proceedings give a good record of papers delivered at the conference. Our thanks and appreciation go out to all those who presented papers and participated in the conference. Feedback to date from delegates and participants has been extremely positive. The support from departments within the University and our session Chairs and Keynote speakers is gratefully acknowledged. We also recognize the efforts of both the Executive and Conference Committees for their contribution to the double blind peer review process. Based on the input of the session chairs, we are able to select 10 papers of these to be published in this electronic Journal. These cover a lot of topics including KM models, strategy, innovation, organizational leaning, and intellectual capital measurement, and provide various new insights to the readers.
Grant started by asking the question if knowledge Management (KM) is just another fab. Through the lens of management fashion theory and a good review from bibliometric evidence he assures us that KM is unlike other management themes and is an enduring management activity. However, there is a potential conflict between the interests of practitioners and researchers. With different perspectives and prescriptions, Imani furthers the discussion by examining the KM strategy in 18 global companies and finds out how they are linked to the business strategy, which are either formulaic (to support routine activities) or embryonic (to address corporate strategic agenda). On the other hand, Tan and Nasurdin focus on the influence of KM effectiveness on innovation in 171 large manufacturing firms in Malaysia and find out that the effectiveness of knowledge acquisition has a positive influence on both the technological and administrative (organizational) innovation.
Another issue of concern to researchers in this conference is on how knowledge management is linked to business performance and its evaluation. These findings and observations are reinforced in a study conducted by Rabhi in Saudi Arabia on the effect of KM on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including customer satisfaction, business savings and projects completed. Tiago et al. studied the relationship between the knowledge management and eBusiness activities by applying a structural equation model in a large database of KM activities of European and American firms. In a study of performance of a Quality Assurance Department conducted by Chan in an electronic factory, the performance of the quality management processes is related to the intellectual capital involved which is captured from a knowledge audit of the plant.
De Alvarenga Neto and Vieira from their Brazil experience described the four main components of KM Model in a Brazilian research cooperation, that is, strategy, the environment (from social, information, cognitive and business), tool boxes, and tangible and intangible outputs, and concluded that for the model to be useful it should be collaboratively built among organization units instead of one from top‑down. Inter‑organizational and organizational learning has been recognized to be important for knowledge creation. Laursen, based on an empirical study of four organizational development projects at four Danish high schools revealdifferent perspectives on the projects set up by the staff and the management and how the perspectives have consequences on what is actually learned by individuals as well as the whole organization. As team learning and performance is closely related to the shared mental models of the team members, Zou and Lee explored the shared mental model of eight sigma project teams through collective sensemaking workshops conducted in an electronics factory in China. It was found that a high performance team perceived stronger interrelatedness between key teamwork concepts than average teams did. An area that has been less studied is the effect of age diversity on knowledge transfer in workplace, which roots from the retirement of baby boom generation in many mature organizations. Wang and Dong undertook a study on some basic questions in intergenerational knowledge transfer such as analysis framework and transfer mechanism from a sociological perspective.
Despite the diversity of topics they all tend to address on how KM performance is related to business goals, how the effectiveness is evaluated and how organizational learning takes place, one feature of all these papers is that they all have data to support their cases and cut across various countries and cultures. I hope this special issue serves as a timely and updated reference for the KM, IC and OL professions.