The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management publishes original articles on topics relevant to studying, implementing, measuring and managing knowledge management and intellectual capital.

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Journal Article

What is the Value of Knowledge Management Practices?  pp567-574

Fahmi Ibrahim, Vivien Reid

© Jan 2010 Volume 7 Issue 5, Editor: Kimiz Dalkir, pp535 - 662

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What are the appropriate sources from which to draw evidence about Knowledge Management (KM) and its added value to organisations? This paper attempts to answer this question, first examining the literature for approaches to measuring KM from the perspective of Intellectual Capital (IC) theory. However, findings indicated that many measurement methods or frameworks have limitations. Following the literature review, the researchers then approached KM practitioners, within the UK car manufacturing industry, and undertook in‑depth interviews in an attempt to understand how these organisations value their KM practices. The UK car manufacturing industry was selected because little previous research has been undertaken in this context, most previous studies having concentrated mainly on service industries. It was discovered that, in most of the organisations studied, the link between KM, business benefits and bottom line is almost axiomatic, especially amongst those who are enthusiastic advocates of KM. Drawing on the evidence from the in‑depth interviews, the paper concludes that there is an absence of linking mechanisms between value and measurement. This is due to the differences between the concept of a value and measurement approach and the importance of these two concepts to justify the outcome of KM practices. Recommendations are made through the development of a theoretical framework that includes both objective and subjective dimensions of KM measurement strategy.


Keywords: knowledge management, intellectual capital, uk car manufacturing industry, theoretical framework, value, measurement


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Journal Article

Pluralism in Knowledge Management: a Review  pp388-397

James Sheffield

© Jun 2009 Volume 7 Issue 3, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp297 - 397

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The purpose of this article is to review the role of simultaneous application of multiple perspectives, or pluralism, in knowledge management, and to describe theoretical frameworks that support pluralism. Pluralism is defined as support for all three of the systems perspectives — hard, soft, and critical — that are implicit in the popular Davenport and Prusak (1998) definition of knowledge. These perspectives are associated with research paradigms (positivist, interpretivist, pluralist) and knowledge perspectives (application, normalization, creation). A case study of coordinating work in a hospital is reviewed to illustrate the role played by pluralistic approaches in knowledge management. A literature search is conducted to find frameworks that support pluralism. The findings are as follow. In the hospital case study the introduction of a patient record system (hard system) was the occasion for changes to both coordination (soft systems) and power relations (critical systems). Facts, norms and feelings are intertwined. While the electronic tool by itself is neutral in the face of power relations, its use in organisations is not. In this case at least, a holistic and pluralistic approach to knowledge management is required. In the search for frameworks to support pluralism, more than 50 frameworks from the general knowledge management literature are identified. Of the eight selected for further study, three are found to be pluralistic. These three — critical systems, scientific discourses, and Habermasian inquiry — share common characteristics. All three recognise that conflict is the precondition to knowledge creation, and that power relations, value commitments, and ethics are central to knowledge management. It is concluded that the knowledge management literature as a whole favours a single systems perspective (hard systems); a single research paradigm (positivism, focusing on objective facts); and a single knowledge management domain (knowledge application). This singular (non‑pluralistic) approach produces theories about knowledge that has already emerged. Yet the Davenport and Prusak (1998) definition of knowledge and the hospital case study include two other perspectives — soft systems and critical systems — that focus on the organizational and individual aspects of emergence, respectively. In practice, knowledge management must address the need to simultaneously solve technical problems, resolve interpersonal issues, and dissolve personal conflict. The contribution of the paper is the comparison of knowledge management frameworks on the basis of underlying system perspectives, and the identification, description, and application of some pluralistic frameworks. Each systems perspective constitutes a different discourse on the purposes served by knowledge management, and pluralisms are required to integrate them. Pluralisms constitute both a framework for inquiry in knowledge management and a design theory for collaborative technologies. The review is not exhaustive. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the link between the purposes served by knowledge management and the methodology required for development. The paper contributes to the literature that seeks to understand the complexity of knowledge management practice via 'awareness of the potential and the implications of the different discourses in the study of knowledge and knowledge management.'


Keywords: critical systems, foundational theory, Habermasian inquiry, knowledge management, multiple perspectives, power relations, pluralism, scientific discourses, theoretical frameworks


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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 5 / Dec 2009  pp535‑662

Editor: Kimiz Dalkir

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The 9th ICICKM conference, held at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was well attended by participants representing over 20 different countries. The international flavor of the conference continues to ensure a diverse range of papers as well as opportunities for valuable networking. As with all ICICKM gatherings, researchers, practitioners and students of KM were brought together to discuss the KM crossroads we find ourselves at in the year 2009.

Some of the key issues that emerged from the two days included a consensus that KM has evolved so we no longer need to convince people it is needed. We now need now to know how to “do KM” – that is, how to implement knowledge management in organizations in a more informed manner. In particular, the need for more how‑to guides, detailed rules, good validated practices and an overall quasi‑standard approach to KM implementation were noted as priority needs for the KM community. In addition, particular guidance is required concerning the KM teams (who should do what?) and how best to address tacit knowledge. Other issues concerned the specific components that should be present in a KM workspace and how this workspace can address the needs of different users who need to accomplish different sorts of tasks

While participants felt that we still have to convince some senior managers, we now also need to better address how to align KM processes so as to not create overhead. For example, what is the impact of KM on other parts of the organization such as training and IT units? How can we change peoples’ behaviours and how they think about the work they do? What are the new skills/competencies needed? How can they acquire them? How to integrate KM into business processes? How to integrate KM roles within existing jobs?

The good news is that the discipline and practice of KM has evolved – the bad news is that we still have a long way to go. The focus is now on how to do KM well. Educators need to focus on student competencies, skills and roles and responsibilities. Researchers need to focus on more evidence‑based and theory‑based KM. Practitioners need to focus on feedback from users and best practices.

The collection of papers in this special conference edition address the multitude of issues we currently face, and will continue to face, in the future. There is an excellent mix of practical case studies, practical tools such as intellectual capital measurement models in addition to more conceptual and theoretical approaches to solving crucial KM problems.


Keywords: academic education, avatars, ba, BRIC, competitive intelligence, complexity of choice, creative destruction, decision-making, developing countries, discipline, emerging markets, experiment, financial crisis, group interaction, growth drivers, human capital, Indian economy, Information Technology sector, intangible assets, Intellectual capital, intellectual value, KM in interconnected power systems, Knowledge Active Forgetting (KAF), knowledge capital, knowledge management implementation, management support systems, measurement, methods of assessment, paradigm, SET KM model, stakeholders, strategy, sustainable competitive advantage, technology, theoretical framework, UK car manufacturing industry, undergraduate degree program in Turkey, unlearning, virtual environments


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