Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management

The KM is a process through which knowledge creation, acquisition & sharing takes place. It is used to enhance learning and performance of an organization. Knowledge management is essential to enhance creativity and entrepreneurship building, helps in change management, and staff empowerment. With decreased product life cycles, environmental complexity and increased volatility, the need to manage knowledge is intensifying, particularly across the value chain. The literature on knowledge management delineates two prominent types of knowledge namely tacit and explicit. Tacit knowledge is hidden, which requires sophisticated techniques to capture, whereas explicit knowledge can be expressed in words, numbers, formulae, specifications, manuals, etc.

Even though, the term knowledge management implies managing the knowledge, but the primary focus is devising a process for maintaining the essential knowledge for the future growth of an organization. The KM empowers employee by making necessary knowledge available at the right time.

People are the organization’s most precious resource; knowledge management is based on the experience of people. Review of literature shows there is an increased interest among organizations over knowledge consciousness. Knowledge management has become important mechanism, which identifies involvement of knowledge in various job profiles and qualifies a staff as a knowledge worker rather than an employee who works with routine skills. It implies that every person in an organization should work for creating and sharing the knowledge.

Through the KM, knowledge assets can be effectively used to generate intellectual value in an organization. Growing interest in knowledge management systems helps the organizations to transform the knowledge into a planned corporate asset that needs to be generated, maintained, retained, updated, disseminated and applied to the future problems of the organization (Drucker, P.F., 1994). KM is seen from a different perspective by various researchers.

Some of the definitions on the KM available from the literature are listed below;

Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, (1995) “The capability of an organization to create new knowledge, disseminate it all over the organization and symbolize it in terms of products, services, and quality.”

Skyrme, D.J. (1997) “Knowledge management is the explicit and systematic management of critical knowledge and its related aspects of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusion, use, and exploitation. It requires converting personal knowledge into corporate knowledge that can be widely shared throughout the organization and properly applied.”

Allee, V.,(1997) “KM is a process of managing knowledge for efficient decision-making process thus, creating value for all its stakeholders.”

Davenport T.H., (1998) “KM is managing the organization knowledge base through the systematic and scientific process for acquiring, organizing, sustaining, applying, sharing, and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees.”

Ermine J.L, (2000) “KM is defined as the management of organizational knowledge.”

Gupta, B., et al.(2000) “KM is an organization-wide approach that helps the organization to identify, accept, organize, and transfer knowledge that will help improves day-to-day transactions.”

Based on the above definitions, the Knowledge Management can be defined as “The conglomerate of art, science and technology to make the best use of available organizational knowledge.”

1. Need for Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable the adoption of insights and experiences. KM helps to bring the right knowledge to the right people at the right time, thus enabling them to make the best decision. In order to transform knowledge into a valuable organisational asset, knowledge, experience, and expertise must be formalized, distributed, shared, and applied.

1.1 Importance of KM

Higher educational institutions and universities provide knowledge to students. Most of them are providing knowledge in such a way, that there is no effective transformation of knowledge made possible to the students. Nowadays, students find a lot of distractions from their studies, due to the advancements and innovations in the field of science and technology and also due to several other factors that prevail in the society. These make the students lack in concentration in their studies. In order to make the students to concentrate in their studies, new trends in teaching should be adopted. Students can get necessary assistance from any experts to solve their problems, in the case of a virtual learning workplace (Kiili and Kiili 2001).Knowledge Management

The use of the digital learning environment to present computer-based learning programmes, integrate audiovisual sequences or even digitised printed teaching texts is really a misuse, because its specific potential is not even seen, let alone actually used (Peters 2000). Education now has to be tailor-made to the requirements of the private sector. Also, institutions of international reputation are making inroads in to the higher education sector, by providing alternative learning opportunities, leading to the award of degrees in their universities. At the same time, the traditional structure of higher education in the state funded institutions has continued to remain teacher oriented, and learners find that it is no longer adequate in meeting its demand and relevance. There are not enough lecturers, library books or rooms, and there is not enough time. New organisational structures are therefore required to support the new learning processes (Jayanthi Ranjan and Raju Ranjan 2010).

Computers and videos in higher education have so far rarely lived up to the promises made by them. No medium, however useful, can solve fundamental educational problems (Ramsden 1992). There are lots of trends available, like Information management, e-learning etc., but the above said will not offer solutions to managing knowledge, that is knowledge from the students, faculties, administrative persons, and others like people from the industries. To do this there is an emerging trend in the education domain, which is called knowledge management. Knowledge management will make the teaching-learning process easier and more interesting. With the implementation of the knowledge management system in the higher education field, there will be a remarkable change in the quality of education. In this research, the discussion is on the design and development of a meta-model for a knowledge management system in the higher education domain, and its propable impact on society.

1.3 Benefits of KM:

Knowledge management provides a lot of benefits, when it is implemented in higher education. Knowledge management enables the sharing of valuable information throughout the organisational hierarchy, which can avoid re-inventing the wheel, reduce redundant work, reduce the training time for the new faculty, and enable the retention of the intellectual property after the faculty leaves, if such knowledge can be codified. Knowledge management improves the quality of the organisation, and takes the institution or organisation to the number one position.

The reasons for universities to adopt knowledge management are to:

• Retain the expertise of their personnel

• Increase the retention and graduation rates

• Retain a technology work force in the face of severe employee shortages

• Compete in an environment where institutions cross states and national borders

• Dramatically reduce costs

• Provide the potential to expand or grow

• Respond faster to learners

2. Components of Knowledge Management:

Knowledge management consists of various components, namely creation of knowledge, sharing and transferring of knowledge, and storing of information in the knowledge repositories.

Creation of knowledge: knowledge is created or gathered by knowledge providers / subject matter experts (SME).

Sharing and transferring of knowledge: sharing and transferring knowledge through the Communities of Practice (CoP) tools like wiki, blogs.

Storing of information: knowledge stored in repositories.

2.1 Architecture of Knowledge Management:

Chua (2004) proposed a three-tier Knowledge management architecture, which consists of three services. The services are infrastructure services, knowledge services, and presentation services. All these services are aimed to support the organisation. This system provides technological services like creating, sharing and reusing the knowledge in the organisation.

Figure 1.1 below explains Chua’s three-tier knowledge management system architecture. The model consists of three layers, in which first layer comprises infrastructure services, which focus on storage and communication technology. Knowledge creation and knowledge reuse are depending mainly on repositories, which are controlled by storage management. The knowledge transferring activity among the users is carried out by the communication technology.

The second layer focuses on knowledge creation, knowledge sharing and knowledge reuse, which are very important in the system. The knowledge creation process converts the user’s tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. The knowledge sharing process refers to the flow of knowledge from one organisation to another part of the organisation. The required knowledge for the user can be retrieved in the knowledge reuse process.

Three -Tier Architecture Proposed by Chua
Figure 1.1: Three -Tier Architecture Proposed by Chua (2004)

The third layer provides the presentation services which consist of personalisation and visualisation technology. This service provides the personalized content to the user request, and also supports decision-making. It provides an enhanced interface between the user and the knowledge/ information sources. The services are provided after the analysis of the organisation culture.

1.4 Knowledge Management Approach in Higher Education:

Organisations have realized that “knowledge” is a strategic resource that gives them a sustainable competitive advantage, and helps them achieve their long term organisational goals. The realisation that knowledge is the key driver behind organisational success comes from the need to respond to markets, which are becoming global and increasingly competitive. Knowledge management is applied today across the world, in all the industrial sectors, public and private organisations, and humanitarian institutions and international charities. Most importantly, effective knowledge management is now recognized to be the key driver of new knowledge and new ideas for innovation processes, to new innovative products, services and solutions. Macintosh et al (1999), described knowledge assets as the knowledge of the markets, products, technologies and organisations. A web-based learning approach will improve the self-paced learning of students (Rathinavelu 2003).

Higher technical institutions in India have steadily developed considerable R and D capabilities. A few institutions have shown very promising results. The internet has revolutionized the whole world. Information availability has become easier, but to convert it into knowledge is very difficult. Organisations, particularly educational institutions, will have to develop a process through which value can be generated from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. If literature is likened to a ‘tree of knowledge’ about a particular subject, the need for more e-Learning theories becomes clear. Practice-based research can be likened to the branches of the tree, those parts that are readily visible and most easily appreciated, (Nichols 2003).

Stakeholders who are more sophisticated and demands are an ever-increasing rate of technological change. It is knowledge that helps organisations deal with these challenges effectively. With the realisation that knowledge is the source of their core competency, organisations are now attempting to manage knowledge in a more systematic and effective way, using the latest advances in computer and information technologies. Knowledge management techniques and tools, a collective of processes or activities that help organisations harness knowledge, have been used by organisations to encourage the creation and sharing of knowledge. It thus
results in the improvement of productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, as well as the relationship among people in those organisations.

Higher education in today’s environment is subject to the same pressures as those of the marketplace. WTO provisions coming into effect very soon and increased competition have pushed universities and higher education institutions to think business. Educational markets are becoming global as universities and higher education institutions are attempting to internationalize their curricula and offer high-quality programs to students,
regardless of their location. They are also facing higher competition for a share of the student market, both local and international. Moreover, they have to adjust themselves and develop strategies, to respond rapidly to the changes in technologies and the increasing demands of stakeholders. Indian universities and institutes of higher learning are trying to get an appropriate market share in this global education market. Some of the institutions have already established their campuses abroad. In this new millennium, knowledge is power and more knowledge is within individuals, than in records. Consequently, knowledge management is mandatory in higher education.

Universities are knowledge-based organisations in nature. In such organisations constituencies acquire the knowledge and skills they need from many different sources, within and without the institutions. They openly share their own knowledge and skills with others; for they realize that they are all working in a non-profit academic community for the advancement of the society. It may well be said that the needs of today’s “knowledge worker” cannot be adequately addressed by the university as one knows it today, and that new elements should be introduced into institutions of higher learning to fill the widening vacuum, developing between traditional higher education and the demands of today’s knowledge intensive workplace. Such an element is “knowledge management in higher education”, an integral system with the holistic commitment of all the constituencies of the university.

Higher education institutions have “significant opportunities to apply knowledge management practices to support every part of their mission” Jillinda J. Kidwell, et. al (2000). Knowledge management should not strike higher education institutions as a radically new idea. The problem generally is that, it is such a “wide open area of study that it is difficult to understand the implications of knowledge management for an educational setting”,Thorn (2001). Knowledge management involves much more, going beyond the inherent knowledge industry of colleges and universities. Bernbom (2001), states that Knowledge management involves the “discovery and capture of knowledge, the filtering and arrangement of this knowledge, and the value derived from sharing and using this knowledge throughout the organisation. It is this “organized complexity” of collaborative work, to share and use information from all aspects of an institution, which marks the effective use of knowledge.

The growth of technical education in India has been very rapid in the last decade. Private participation in higher technical education has been encouraged by Government regulatory bodies, which have seen manifold expansion in the availability of technical education. However, this has led to a severe dearth of qualified faculty members in almost all institutions.

Institutions are becoming ‘Factories’, instead of being sacred places like temples. The regulatory bodies, though, have framed guidelines for various infrastructures, faculty and other resources, but in many cases, these have been grossly violated leading to inferior education, culminating in unemployment to the students. This has also been coupled with the fast changing requirements of industries, which are demanding more and more from the graduates. Institutions are unable to change that fast, which results in a clear cut gap between “expectations” and “availability”.

The big question in the present scenario is “Are we producing quality technical manpower?” Universities must start realizing the importance of “what they know”. Institutions must be able to identify this and make the maximum use of this knowledge. Most of the time, institutions are repeating the work of another institution / faculty members, because it is not well documented, or they do not keep track of it. Success in an increasingly competitive market depends critically on the quality of knowledge which the organisation applies in its work.

Knowledge management initiatives in an organisation often involve one or all of the following aspects:

• Managing explicit knowledge

• Managing implicit knowledge

• Creating new knowledge

• Transferring knowledge

Institutions must generate value from the intellectual ability of the faculty members and their knowledge-based assets. Every organisation needs a very well-integrated system to make Knowledge management successful. Implicit knowledge is highly complex, as compared to the qualitative form it usually takes and is hard to extract, as opposed to explicit knowledge. Knowledge originates in individuals, but it is embodied in teams and organisations. In an organisation, examples of explicit knowledge are strategies, methodologies, processes, patents, products, and services. Examples of implicit knowledge in an organisational context, are skills and competencies, experiences, relationships within and outside the organisation, individual beliefs and values, and ideas.

Information and communication technology (ICT) enhances and supports knowledge processes (Seufert et al 1999). The challenge in knowledge management is to make the right knowledge available to the right people at the right time. Knowledge management helps in enhancing an institution’s ability and capacity. The value of knowledge management relates directly to the effectiveness with which the managed knowledge enables the members of the institution to deal with today’s situation and effectively create their future, since being efficient without being effective leads to failure. Institutions which can rethink their future based on the best practices and value additions can certainly be ahead of others by doing the right thing today. Changing industrial trends, competition from other institutions, society and government regulations, etc. make the present performance obsolete more quickly, compared to earlier days. Institutions must prepare well in advance to ride the next wave of changes, so that the product “students” are highly employable.

The Knowledge management approach in higher education is based on two different dimensions, knowledge management system strategy and man power strategy. System strategy aims to create, store and share organisations’ explicitly documented knowledge. This strategy mainly focuses on codifying and storing knowledge. Human strategy emphasizes on knowledge sharing via Communities of Practice (wild, blog, interpersonal interaction).

The important factors influencing sharing and transferring tacit knowledge in the higher education domain, is based on the creation of knowledge-create, dissemination of knowledge, and retrieval of knowledge. Therefore, there is a scope to explore knowledge sharing and transferring in higher education settings.

Original Reference Article:

  • Bhanumathi, P. (2015). Knowledge management enablers processes and organizational performance a case study of select SMEs in Bangalore. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10603/139374

  • Kalaiselvi, K. (n.d.). A knowledge management approach for sharing and transferring tacit knowledge in higher education domain. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10603/22202


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