Knowledge Management

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Knowledge management systems: strategic asset or not?

Abstract
In the knowledge based economy today, it is important for organisations to rapidly collect and share knowledge with globally dispersed locations. KMS is collection of technical artefacts designed to help organisations to achieve such goal. The purpose of this essay is to evaluated whether KMS are strategic asset from resource based view. The outcome of the finding determines whether KMS can be leveraged to facilitate knowledge dissemination within organisations and strengthen organisations sustainable competitive advantage. Or KMS eliminates the intangible aspect of tacit knowledge and weaken organisation’s competitive advantage. KMS is evaluated from technical and social-technical perspective.

1. Introduction
Knowledge is recognized as a major source for competitive advantage in highly competitive business environment. Traditionally, organisations relied on training programs, operation procedures and manuals to facilitate knowledge management in the organisation. These functions served the purpose of creating, organizing, disseminating, and maintaining essential knowledge within organisations, which ensured the consistency of the quality of product and service, and attributed to employees’ performance. (Mohamed, 2007) As organisations expend globally, it becomes extremely challenging for organisations to manage knowledge effectively on a global scale and timely fashion. Traditional knowledge management techniques became inefficient, impractical and expensive. (Alavi and Leidner, 1999) To effectively capture knowledge developed in organisations and share with globally dispersed locations, organisations are investing heavily in information technology enabled knowledge management systems (KMS). This phenomenon raised the question of whether knowledge management systems are strategic assets from the resource-based view. The answer will determine that whether KMS contributes to organisations’ sustainable competitive advantage. If KMS manages to transfer an organisation’s tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, using KMS might not be the best option for gathering and disseminating firm’s knowledge. KMS may easily be imitated by firm’s competitors, which leads to weakening a firm’s competitive advantage. On the other hand, if KMS is proven to be strategic assets, it would be in firms’ best interest in utilizing knowledge management systems. (Meso and Smith, 2000) The organisation of the essay is as follows. The next section presents the concept of knowledge management and knowledge management systems. Section 3 illustrates the characteristics that constitutes strategic asset. Section 4 evaluates whether knowledge management systems are classified as strategic asset from resource-based view. Final section concludes the main points of the essay and suggests opportunities for further research to be undertaken. 2.

Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems
To evaluate the importance of knowledge management systems and its contribution to an organisation’s competitive advantage, it is necessary to define the concept of knowledge. There are several definitions of knowledge, which view knowledge from different perspectives (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Since this essay takes a pragmatic approach to evaluate knowledge management systems, the following definition of knowledge is adopted.

“Knowledge is a justified personal belief that increases an individual’s capacity to take effective action.” (Alavi and Leidner, 1999)

This definition suggests that effective action resulted from the increase of individual’s capacity indicates the existence of knowledge. Another definition of knowledge, which is widely used in the field of information systems, is the hierarchical view of data, information and knowledge. Cooper (2010) suggests the essential distinction between data, information and knowledge is the level of individual’s understanding and...
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