The Boisot I-Space KM Model

The Boisot KM model is based on the key concept of an "information good“ that differs from a physical asset. Boisot distinguishes information from data by emphasizing that information is what an observer will extract from data as a function of his or her expectations or prior knowledge. Boisot (1998) proposes the following two key points:  

  • The more easily data can be structured and converted into information, the more diffusible it becomes.
  • The less data that has been so structured requires a shared context  for its diffusion, the more diffusible it becomes (Dalkir, 2011, p.82). 

Boisot's model can be visualized as three dimensional cube with the following dimensions:

  1. from uncodified to codified,
  2. from concrete to abstract,
  3. from undiffused to diffused.

He proposes a Social Learning Cycle (SLC) that uses the I-Space to model the dynamic flow of knowledge through a series of six phases:

  • Scanning: insights are gained from generally available (diffused) data
  • Problem-Solving: problems are solved giving structure and coherence to these insights (knowledge becomes 'codified')
  • Abstraction: the newly codified insights are generalized to a wide range of situations (knowledge becomes more 'abstract')
  • Diffusion: the new insights are shared with a target population in a codified and abstract form (knowledge becomes 'diffused')
  • Absorption: the newly codified insights are applied to a variety of situations producing new learning experiences (knowledge is absorbed and produces learnt behaviour and so becomes 'uncodified', or 'tacit')
  • Impacting: abstract knowledge becomes embedded in concrete practices, for example in artifacts, rules or behaviour patterns (knowledge becomes 'concrete') (

The proposed Social Learning Cycle (SLC) serves to link content, information, and knowledge management in a very effective way - the codification dimension is linked to categorization and classification; the abstraction dimension is linked to knowledge creation, and the diffusion dimension is linked to information access and transfer.(


Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License