Monday, 10 November 2008

Knowledge Management Spiral: Perspectives of Knowledge Creation

Sponsored Links
Find high paying job. It's quick! It's Free!!Earn some quick money by spending just 5 minutes!!
Knowledge can be tacit (also known as, implicit) or explicit. There are various theories of knowledge capture, and the toughest challenge ever remains to capture tacit knowledge. After years of research & analysis, scientists created Knowledge Spiral which highlights different modes of knowledge capture. This spiral is applicable for knowledge management practices of various organizations too.

(1) Socialization refers to the sharing of tacit knowledge between individuals. This mode of knowledge creation exists almost everywhere. Here knowledge is created / captured through informal discussions, one-to-one casual meetings, talks over coffee, or just plain chat while walking in the corridor. A research studies that a lot of knowledge is transacted through this mode, and often it goes unrecorded. The real challenge that a knowledge management professional faces is to capture (& document) some part of this knowledge.

(2) Externalization mode often involves formal knowledge capture, using various techniques to document knowledge captured in human brains. One may use interviews, forms, or questionnaires to externalize tacit knowledge which is understandable by others.

(3) The next mode is the Combination mode where different explicit knowledge is combined and more complex explicit knowledge is created. This includes three processes; capturing new knowledge; distributing the captured knowledge through e.g. meetings; and processing knowledge in order to make it more useable. This is where the new knowledge is combined with existing knowledge, most efficiently supported by IT such as networks, groupwares, documentations, and databases.

(4) The fourth mode is the Internalization of new explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. Learning-by-doing, exercises, and training are a few aids for this process. In this mode, the explicit knowledge becomes embodied in action and practice within the organization.

IT systems are often viewed to be effective for providing Combination mode, where the combination of knowledge can be more efficient. But lately, as the techniques for IT systems have evolved, IT has been proved to enhance other modes in the knowledge creation process as well. This can be within the externalization mode where IT provides an efficient Externalization mode for collaboration between individuals or in the Internalization mode where IT supports the process of making explicit knowledge tacit.

Knowledge Perspectives & Implications

Five perspectives summarized below can be used when examining knowledge. All of these are exemplified with implications for knowledge management and knowledge management system in the following table.

Knowledge perspective

Implications for knowledge management (KM)

Implications for knowledge management system (KMS)

Knowledge vis-à-vis data & information

Data is facts, raw numbers.

Information is processed, interpreted data.

Knowledge is personalized information.

KM focuses on exposing individuals to potentially useful information & facilitating assimilation of information.

KM will not be radically different that existing IT system; it is extended towards helping users in assimilating information.

State of mind

Knowledge is the state of knowing and understanding.

KM involves enhancing individual’s learning & understanding, through provision of appropriate & adequate information.

Role of IT is to provide access to sources of knowledge rather than the knowledge itself.


Knowledge is an object to be stored & manipulated.

Key KM issue remains building & manipulating knowledge stocks.

Role of IT involves gathering, storing, and transferring knowledge.


Knowledge is a process of applying expertise.

KM focus is on knowledge flows and the process of creation, sharing, and distributing knowledge.

Role of IT is to provide link among sources of knowledge to create wider breadth & depth of knowledge flows.

Access to information

Knowledge is a condition of access to information.

KM focus is organized access to and retrieval of content.

Role of IT is to provide effective search and retrieval mechanisms for locating relevant information.


Knowledge is the potential to influence action.

KM is about building core competencies and understanding strategic know-how.

Role of IT is to enhance intellectual capital by supporting development of individual and organizational competencies.

Source: Study by Alavi & Leidner, 2001

Conclusion: The choice of perspective influences the implications for KM & KMS in an organization. Even if a distinction has been made between tacit and explicit knowledge, they have a strong interrelationship where the tacit knowledge is needed as a background in order to interpret the explicit knowledge in the intended way. This also points out the importance of a shared knowledge base between individuals in order to efficiently exchange knowledge. Without this shared knowledge base, an implementation of a KMS will not have a large positive impact on knowledge management within an organization. On the other hand, the greater the shared knowledge base is within a company, the greater the value will be for the explicit knowledge.

Do not miss even a single tech update... Subscribe to RSS feeds now!

1 comment:

francesco said...

could you send me the image in a better quality?? thanks!
my email address: