Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning
Authors: W.R. King
Publication Year: 2009
Journal: Knowledge Management and E-Learning
For centuries, scientists, philosophers and intelligent laymen have been concerned about creating, acquiring, and communicating knowledge and improving the re-utilization of knowledge. However, it is only in the last 15–20 years or so that a distinct field called “knowledge management” (KM) has emerged. KM is based on the premise that, just as human beings are unable to draw on the full potential of their brains, organizations are generally not able to fully utilize the knowledge that they possess. Through KM, organizations seek to acquire or create potentially useful knowledge and to make it available to those who can use it at a time and place that is appropriate for them to achieve maximum effective usage in order to positively influence organizational performance. It is generally believed that if an organization can increase its effective knowledge utilization by only a small percentage, great benefits will result. Organizational learning (OL) is complementary to KM. An early view of OL was “…encoding inferences from history into routines that guide behavior” (Levitt and March, 1988 , p. 319). So, OL has to do with embedding what has been learned into the fabric of the organization.
Knowledge management is becoming an hot concept as optimization inside companies takes place. Organizations have come to a stand where they reached an extremely competitive market, where their products are similar and they cannot achieve competitive advantage anymore. This is when organizations start to look inside and optimizing all of its processes.
An organization, more than infrastructure, is made by people, ideas and capabilities. Organizational Learning is the process that employees incur to, when working within an organization. Every business process inside of an organization will result in organizational knowledge as the employees learn them.
With time, one of the most value assets of an organization is the organizational knowledge because if all of the employees are replaced by new ones (without the prior knowledge) they will not know how to make their work properly, and therefore, the organization will not run. Thus, organizations are now more aware that employees are very valuable, because inside them resides the organizational knowledge. Therefore, there is a need of managing that knowledge, to keep it inside of the organization and to make it generate even more knowledge. The authors dive into the Knowledge Management theories and processes and apply it to organizations.
Knowledge Management goals are to:
- Improve knowledge
- Improve knowledge related practices
- Improve organizational behaviors and decisions
- Improve organizational performance.
Knowledge Management focus on:
- Knowledge processes
- Knowledge creation
- Knowledge acquisition
- Knowledge refinement
- Knowledge storage
- Knowledge transfer
- Knowledge sharing
- Knowledge utilization
Process cycle model of Knowledge Management. Such cycle model provide a useful way to organize one’s thinking about KM processes.
Authors use the Knowledge Management Process model (on the right) to explain how the organizational learning takes place and how it should be managed. They suggest this model brings better results on the processes of:
- Individual learning
- Collective learning
- Collective collaborative decision-making.
Through Knowledge Management an organization is able to optimize and improve its external products and services but also its internal processes, organizational behaviors and relationships.