Knowledge Management


Scientists, scholars, philosophers, business people, consultants, public-policy makers and intelligent laymen have for a long time got concerned with the issue of creation, acquisition, and communication of knowledge and improving its re-utilization in organizations. In the effort to solve this problem, an explosion of interest among these groups in knowledge management emerged suddenly in the mid-1990 (Hislop, 2013). The need for knowledge management in organizations also spurred the establishment of information systems, software, and consulting services. Knowledge management is an essential tool employed in organizations for sustaining an active competitive advantage and increasing organizational performance. So as to understand knowledge management and its significance, it is necessary to understand knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge processes, and knowledge management systems.


Knowledge gets described as a justified personal belief. Organizations in today’s knowledge economy seek the simple generation of knowledge, as well as the ability to provide the knowledge that can add value to the organization. It has several taxonomies that specify different types of knowledge. However, the most fundamental perspective of considering knowledge is whether it is tacit or explicit.  Tacit knowledge partly comprises of technical skills that are the type of informal, hard-to-pin-down expertise described in the term, ‘know-how’. Stradivarius violin, which attracts a huge price due to its superior sound, is one good example of tacit knowledge. On the other hand, explicit knowledge gets described as formal and systematic, hence gets communicated and transmitted easily in the form of either product specification, computer program, or scientific formula (Wilson, 2005).

Knowledge also gets distinguished according to the different levels of knowledge, namely “know what”, “know how”, and “know why” levels. The level of “know what” knowledge describes the particular action to undertake during a set of stimuli. An example of this kind is a salesperson with training on the particular product suitable for certain situations. The level “know-how” knowledge describes the knowing how to select a proper response to a certain stimulus. The level “know-why” knowledge describes a person who has a great knowing of causal relationships, interactive effects, as well as the uncertainty levels that gets associated with observed stimuli.

The six dimensions of knowledge management that make it different from other factors of production in an organization are (Wilson, 2005);

  1. Subjective
  2. Transferable
  3. Self-reinforcing
  4. Perishable
  5. Spontaneous
  6. Embedded

Various means get applied to sustain competitive advantage and protect knowledge. First entails the internal protection of knowledge that involves secret recipes and processes, tacit knowledge, signing of non-disclosure agreements by staff, incentives to discourage employee turnover, and designing jobs to ensure workers contribute to certain sections of the production process. Factors affecting the external protection of knowledge include copyright, international non-proprietary names, legal contracts with customers/ suppliers, protected denomination of origin, time to market, trademarks, and technical standards such as ISO standards. Another way identified of protecting knowledge is the four attributes of a strategic resource that strategic resource needs so as to have a sustainable competitive advantage. These four attributes are valuable knowledge, rare knowledge, imperfectly imitable knowledge, and no substitution of knowledge (Wilson, 2005).

Knowledge Management

Different scholars have attempted to define knowledge management in organizations as follows. Malhotra (1997) defines the term knowledge management as to involve the most significant crucial question of an organization’s adaptation, survival, and competencies as a result in rising changes in the business environment. It provides organizational processes that attempt to interaction and integration of data, which for an outcome has the potential improvement of information technologies and making and innovation of human capacities. Ensuring that knowledge gets effectively applied during decision making is the most important aspect. Knowledge management gets described as the wide process of creating, locating, organizing, transmitting, and utilizing the information and skills available within an organization (Filemon and Uriarte, 2008)

Knowledge management in an organization is the tool used to plan, organize, motivate, and control people, processes, and technology so as to improve and effectively use it knowledge-related assets. The assets include knowledge stored in printed documents such as manuals, patents, knowledge stored electronically such as databases, knowledge possessed by the personnel, and knowledge contained in businesses’ products, processes, and relationships.

Knowledge Management Processes

Knowledge Management processes get described as the degree, to which an enterprise creates, shares, stores, and uses knowledge-related assets across various functional boundaries. The different elements of knowledge management are the acquisition, conversion, application, storage, and protection.

 Knowledge Management Systems

The Knowledge Management Systems get defined as the applications of the firm’s computer-based communications and information systems that provide assistance to the different knowledge management processes. Knowledge management systems use various knowledge management mechanisms and technologies to assist the knowledge management processes.

Significance of knowledge management

Organizations use knowledge management to acquire or create possibly meaningful knowledge, and then avail it to users who can apply it at a time and place appropriate for them for maximum effective utilization, so as to positively influence organizational performance. According to O’Dell & Hubert (2011), knowledge management entails the systematic effort that allows the growth, flow, and creation of valuable information, hence ensuring that all stakeholders in an organization have access to the right knowledge at the right place at the right time.

Knowledge management is responsible for ensuring that knowledge gets employed to decision making, hence leading to informed decisions in an organization. This aspect promotes the production of high-quality products, hence customer satisfaction and competitive advantage in the market. Knowledge management is a significant technique in an organization to achieve and sustain competitive advantage in the market and to improve performance. The assessment of knowledge management performance provides the reference needed for directing organizations to improve their competitiveness and performance. The advantage gets attained by achieving the main goals of knowledge management that are the creation of new knowledge for accelerating innovation and attaining competitiveness, and the sharing of company knowledge to improve organization effectiveness. Knowledge management promotes information assurance and information security in an organization.

Other ways in which knowledge management profits organizations in the present world economy is the leveraging the intellectual capital and maintaining cutting-edge performance. An organization’s intellectual capital is the sum of all knowledge related assets that exist in elements within or outside the company. Intellectual capital gets divided into three categories namely human capital, social capital, and organizational capital. Examples of businesses that greatly attribute their net worth incensement to knowledge management are GE, Microsoft, and Intel where the percentage attribute is as much as 82, 97, and 85 percent respectively (Frappaolo, 2002).

Challenges in Knowledge Management

Despite the various attempts made to launch knowledge management initiatives such as the design and execution of knowledge management systems, only few knowledge management implementations have become a success. Personnel in organizations do not feel compelled to be part of knowledge management initiatives because of the different uncertainties in the present day business environment as well as the reality of continuing layoffs.

So as to provide solutions to these challenges of knowledge management, the human component should get addressed effectively. First, the knowledge management practices must formulate methods of motivating and stimulating the ability of staff to create new knowledge. Secondly, the knowledge management methods and technologies must provide effective means of eliciting, representing, organizing, reusing, and renewing this knowledge. Lastly, knowledge management should be at the forefront of acknowledging the position of knowledge owners as experts in an organization (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2014).


The ability of a business to manage knowledge is paramount in the present knowledge economy as it necessary for survival and sustaining competitiveness. Knowledge management processes in an organization play a vital role in creating, securing, sharing and improving knowledge, organization decisions and behaviors, knowledge-related practices, and the general organizational performance. Thus, organizations that utilize knowledge in one way or another in their operations and processes need to invest in knowledge management. The intermediate results of knowledge management in the organization include quality products and services and improved organizational behaviors, processes, relationships and decisions.


Becerra-Fernandez, I. & Sabherwal, R. 2014 Knowledge Management: Systems and Processes: Routledge

Filemon A. & Uriarte J., 2008 Introduction to Knowledge Management, ASEAN Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia

Frappaolo, C. (2002) Knowledge Management. Oxford: Capstone Publishing Ltd

Hislop, D. (2013). Knowledge management in organizations: A critical introduction. Oxford University Press

Malhotra, Y. (1997) Knowledge Management in Inquiring Organizations. Proceeding of 2RD Americas Conference on Information System (Philosophy or Information Systems – in Track): Indianapolis

O’Dell, C., & Hubert, C. (2011) The New Edge in Knowledge: APQC.p.2

Wilson, J. P. 2005 Human Resource Development: Learning & Training for Individuals & Organizations Kogan Page Series: Kogan Page Publishers

Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in cheap term papers if you need a similar paper you can place your order from top research paper writing companies.

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