IT Management
Topics: Knowledge management / Pages: 17 (4227 words) / Published: Mar 15th, 2014

Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning


William R. King
Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh For centuries, scientists, philosophers and intelligent laymen have been concerned about creating, acquiring, and communicating knowledge and improving the re-utilization of knowledge.
However, it is only in the last 15–20 years or so that a distinct field called “knowledge management”
(KM) has emerged.
KM is based on the premise that, just as human beings are unable to draw on the full potential of their brains, organizations are generally not able to fully utilize the knowledge that they possess. Through KM, organizations seek to acquire or create potentially useful knowledge and to make it available to those who can use it at a time and place that is appropriate for them to achieve maximum effective usage in order to positively influence organizational performance.
It is generally believed that if an organization can increase its effective knowledge utilization by only a small percentage, great benefits will result.
Organizational learning (OL) is complementary to KM. An early view of OL was “…encoding inferences from history into routines that guide behavior” (Levitt and March, 1988, p. 319). So, OL has to do with embedding what has been learned into the fabric of the organization.



The Basics of Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning

To understand KM and OL, one must understand knowledge, KM processes and goals and 21
knowledge management systems (KMS).



Knowledge is often defined as a “justified personal belief.” There are many taxonomies that specify various kinds of knowledge. The most fundamental distinction is between “tacit” and
“explicit” knowledge. Tacit knowledge inhabits the minds of people and is (depending on one’s interpretation of Polanyi’s (1966) definition)

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