Knowledge management: a literature overview

Shana Ponelis, Felicite A. Fairer-Wessels

Abstract


The concept of knowledge management is becoming increasingly prevalent in academic and vocational literature. The objective of this article is to review the conceptual foundations of knowledge management starting with a conceptual clarification of knowledge relative to data and information. The characteristics in terms of forms, levels and categories of knowledge are discussed. Against this background a definition of knowledge management is sought which is compared with information management. The increasing emphasis placed on knowledge in an organisational context has given rise to a new manifestation of capital which occurs as human or structural intellectual capital. Therefore, the relation of knowledge management to corporate memory as well as the learning organisation is indicated. There are various ways in which knowledge management can be interpreted, the first being analogy; three of which occurring frequently in discussions of knowledge management (biological, economical and their convergence in bionomics) are discussed. Secondly, an indication of a paradigm shift in the approach to management is outlined and the different management styles (top-down, bottom-up and middle-up-down) are contrasted in relation to knowledge management. Finally the underlying approaches to knowledge management (people-centred versus technologycentred) are considered.

Die konsep kennisbestuur kom toenemend voor in die akademiese sowel as populêre literatuur. Die doelstelling van hierdie artikel is om die konsepsionele gronde van kennisbestuur te ondersoek, beginnend met 'n konseptuele verheldering van kennis relatief tot inligting en data. Die kenmerkende eienskappe van kennis in terme van vorms, vlakke en kategoriee word bespreek. Gesien teen hierdie agtergrond word daar gepoog om 'n definisie van kennisbestuur te vind wat dan vergelyk word met inligtingbestuur. Die toenemende klem op kennis in organisasies het gelei tot 'n nuwe vorm van kapitaal wat voorkom as menslike of strukturele intellektuele kapitaal. Ous word die verwantskap tussen kennisbestuur en korporatiewe geheue asook die lerende organisasie bekyk. Daar is verskeie raamwerke waarbinne kennisbestuur geYnterpreteerkan word; die eerste is analogie waarvan drie wat geredelik in die literatuur voorkom (ekonomies, biologies en die se samesmelting in sogenaamde bionomie) in verband met kennisbestuur bespreek kan word. Tweedens word 'n aanduiding gegee van 'n paradigmaverskuiwing wat kennisbestuur te weeg bring en die verskillende bestuurstyle (bo-na-onder,' onder-na-bo en middel-op-af) word teenoor mekaar gestel. Laastens word die onderliggende benaderings tot kennisbestuur (mensgesentreerd versus tegnologiegesentreerd) onder die loep geneem.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7553/66-1-1449

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