Knowledge Management and the Learning Organization

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Information Management, Knowledge Management, and Organizations – a Case Study


Michael P. Magee


Information Technology Management

Paul R. Watkins, PhD
Dean of the Colleges of Business Administration and Information Systems Touro University International (TUI). 

21 July 2008
Submitted: 14 SEP 2008

The relationship between organizational learning and organizational knowledge and the affect knowledge management has on both is at once undeveloped and immature-in its basis and orientation to organizations-as it is in another instance burgeoning and unknown. Carl Sagan the great physicist and astronomer was accustomed to saying about the universe as comprising “Billions and billions, and billions of stars”; well as much may be said of the field of knowledge management with respect to its breadth and depth. Studies and the assembled base of research captured in and by the sampling of articles this paper will use to support this discussion of these three daunting, yet weighty entry points give the assembled body of academe and student reason for pause as well as concern. Pause because just as the era of Sagan’s Astronomy exposed the viewing public of the vastness of the universe so too is today’s corporate executive, government leader, and IT/IS/IM subject matter expert (SME) in awe of the rapid pace of change-and unknown horizons-of the future of knowledge and learning, and, the complex management required by both: knowledge and learning. Equally interesting (as well as daunting and disturbing) is the obvious concern-and confusion-from the reviewed authors and experts as to what is really known and understood about organizational learning, knowledge, and the management of either or both. What one common thread-or issue-that all seem to be in agreement of is this: that those who get it (“it” being knowledge management) will not only be pioneers and mavericks in their field/industry/global market, but they will set the benchmark for success as they explode beyond the horizon leaving all others in their dust. Organizations like Virgin Air, Southwest Airlines, or Stella Artois, are but a few of the early pioneers making headlines in this arena today. (Magee, Jeffrey) What do the others look like and who will they be? Again, another great launching point but not one with clear skies.

This paper will look at some of the complexities and opportunities provided by cooperative and thorough understanding between organizational learning and knowledge, and the requisite knowledge management required to make usable sense of both.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” Albert Einstein (Lewis) “These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.” Vernon Cooper (Lewis) “Data are raw and unorganized facts about the world that are collected and stored.  Information is produced when data is processed and transformed so that it is organized in a meaningful fashion.  Knowledge is the "set of rules" that can be used to interpret information and to take appropriate action based on that information.” (Watkins) Put another way: Information-in the modern, post-industrial era-is the data bits and bytes, which if “…organized in a meaningful fashion” (Watkins) may necessarily usher through processes and transformations in group activity (of any type or level of human activity) that will allow and promote effective production. As Economists add the realm of knowledge management (KM) and business intelligence (BI) to their economic models an entirely new definition (and model(s)) of “economies of scale” will necessarily emerge. The paradigms of global-business economics and knowledge management that here-to-fore existed will be challenged to their core. So what exactly is organizational learning and...
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