Knowledge, management, and knowledgemanagement in business operations
Fei Gao, Meng Li and Steve Clarke
– The purpose of this research is to help knowledge managers systematically grasp ‘‘knowledge about management knowledge’’ and get a ‘‘deep and full’’ understanding of the nature,scope and methodologies of knowledge management.
– Through presenting a variety of perspectives on knowledge,management, and knowledge management, the article explores the essence of knowledge management in organizations from a perspective of critical systems thinking.
– Knowledge management in business organizations has the task of managing the activities of knowledge workers or the transformation and interaction of organizational ‘‘static substance knowledge’’ and ‘‘dynamic process knowledge’’ for ‘‘products, services, and practical process innovation’’ and, at the same time, ‘‘creating new or justifying existing organizational systematic knowledge’’. Knowledge management is not simply about recording and manipulating explicit knowledge, but needs to address that which is implicit, and from which beneﬁtcan thereforebe derived only through process rather than content.
– The comprehensive review and classiﬁcation of various management theories will expandbothknowledgemanagers’andknowledgeworkers’understandingofthesubjectandprovidea foundation for building a knowledge management toolkit in practice.
Knowledge management, Critical thinking, Organizations
1. Background: differing perspectives on knowledge management in business
Knowledge is an important issue for business organisations. There have been a number ofdifferent perspectives from which researchers and practitioners have approached themanagement of knowledge. While the acquisition, transmission, and use of knowledge hasalways been an important part of human affairs (hence the well-established domain ofepistemology), Penrose (1959), Bell (1973) and Drucker (1993a) provide us with a goodbasis for relating knowledge to twenty-ﬁrst century business organisations. Druckersymbolically declares knowledge, as we move into the ‘‘knowledge society’’ (Drucker,1993b), as the key resource for individual ﬁrms and the key driver of competitive advantagefor developed nations, competing in knowledge-based industries, living with knowledgecommunities and societies.Penrose, acknowledged as one of the ﬁrst scholars to recognize the role of knowledge inbusiness organisations, saw acquiring knowledge as a social learning process:
Thisincreaseinknowledgenotonlycausestheproductiveopportunityofaﬁrmtochangeinwaysunrelated to changes in the environment, but also contributes to the ‘‘uniqueness’’ of theopportunity of each individual ﬁrm (Penrose, 1959).
As did Bell, Drucker proposed the concepts of knowledge worker and knowledge workarguing that the ﬁrst knowledge workers, Taylor’s industrial engineers, increased theproductivity of manual workers (Drucker, 2001, 1993):
DOI 10.1108/13673270810859479 VOL. 12 NO. 2 2008, pp. 3-17,
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270
JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
Fei Gao is based at theGraduate School ofKnowledge Science, JAIST,Japan, Meng Li is based atHoneywell (China),Shanghai, China, and SteveClarke is based at theUniversity of Hull BusinessSchool, UK.
The authors wish to thank theanonymous reviewers’ andeditor’s kind suggestion forimproving the quality andreadability of the paper.