Development of Knowledge Management (2)

Knowledge management has many origins.

Historic Efforts

  • Religion and Philosophy (e.g., epistemology) to understand the role and nature of knowledge and the permission of individuals "to think for themselves."
  • Psychology to understand the role of knowledge in human behavior.
  • Economics and social sciences to understand the role of knowledge in society.
  • Business Theory to understand work, and its organization (Wiig, 1999).

In 1959, the major management and business thinker Peter Ferdinand Drucker insisted on the need to pay more attention to knowledge work and the people doing such work. In his publication Landmarks of Tomorrow he coined the term "knowledge worker". Since then he has developed his thinking on the role of knowledge - most notably in his 1992 book, Managing for the Future in which he observed; "from now on the key is knowledge. The world is becoming not labor intensive, not material intensive, not energy intensive, but knowledge intensive" (as cited in Crainer, 2006, p.88).

In 1966, Michael Polanyi defined the differences between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. He stated that we know more than we can tell. People are not often aware of the tacit knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. Tacit knowledge is considered more valuable because it provides the context for people, places, ideas, and experiences. Effective transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact and trust. However, tacit knowledge is not easily shared. Tacit knowledge consists often of innate habits and culture that are not easily recognized. In knowledge management, tacit knowledge refers to knowledge which is only known by an individual and is difficult to communicate to the rest of an organization. Knowledge that can be communicated more easily is called explicit knowledge. The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation (New World Encyclopedia. Michael Polanyi).

Knowledge Management - Managing Tacit and Explicit Knowledge  

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