Knowledge Management

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Introduction The business world at large has embraced the old adage that says knowledge is power, and this is reflected in the way organisations now view knowledge. Knowledge has become one of the key resources organisations utilise in their business strategies hence the need to manage it. The field of Knowledge Management is considered fairly new and it has generated a lot of interest within the business circles with individual companies investing a lot of resources in its development and establishment within their organisations. This paper is focusing on the description and evaluation of the linkages between knowledge management and business strategy with the use of examples from my company, Thermal Air Conditioning (Private) Limited thereafter referred to as Thermal. The definitions of the two terms, knowledge management and business strategy will give a background which will be followed by the descriptive and evaluative component of this discussion.

Knowledge Management Knowledge Management, according to Levinson, M., (1998) is the process through which organisations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge based assets. More often, generating value from such assets involves codifying what employees, partners and customers know, and sharing that information among employees and departments. Another school of thought views knowledge management as comprising a range of strategies and practises used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embedded in individuals or embedded in organisations as processes. A similarly broad definition is presented by Davenport, T. and Prusak, L., (2000), which states that knowledge management is managing the corporation’s knowledge through a systematically organisationally specified process of acquiring, organising, sustaining, applying, sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organisational performance and create value. From all these definitions it is quite apparent that knowledge management consists of initiatives and systems that sustain and support the storage dissemination, application and creation of relevant knowledge. The knowledge has to be relevant, meaning there is a strong linkage between organisational goals and strategy and it refers to knowledge that is useful for some purpose as analysed by Frost, A., (2010)

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This approach to knowledge management involves the understanding of where and in what forms knowledge exists, how to make the right knowledge available to the right people, how to promote a culture conducive to learning, sharing and knowledge creation and above all how to manage all these factors so as to enhance performance in light of the organisation’s strategic goals and short term opportunities and threats. While knowledge management is often facilitated by information technology, technology by itself is not knowledge management.

Business Strategy Johnson and Scholes define business strategy as the direction and scope of an organisation over the long term which achieves advantages for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfil stakeholders’ expectations. Simply stated a business strategy is a detailed plan for achieving success, the bundle of decisions and activities we choose as organisations to achieve our long term goals. It therefore represents the best attempt that management can make at defining and securing the future of that business. This is where the organisation figures out what it wants to achieve and then how it is going to make it happen with its products, customers and operation.

The four functions of knowledge management will help us appreciate the link between knowledge management and business strategy. More so, knowledge can be valued only in the context of an...
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