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Knowledge Management: Here to Stay or Management Fad

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Knowledge Management: Here to Stay or Management Fad? Introduction The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) defines knowledge management as "the strategies and processes of identifying, capturing and leveraging knowledge" to enhance competitiveness (Manasco 1996, p.26). Knowledge management is concerned with the exploitation and development of the knowledge assets of an organisation with a view to furthering the organisation's objectives. It is generally considered that knowledge management has been widely accepted in businesses. However, it is nowhere near as clear whether knowledge management is another transient fad or something that is here to stay. A management fad is a short-lived idea that is important and accepted for a short time, but then fades either because it is not successful or because something else replaces it. Other business ideas last and become an important part of most organisations. The opinions on the status and importance of knowledge management vary widely. Holtham (1997) dismisses knowledge management as just another transient management fad that will soon fade and be forgotten. Skyrme (1999, p.84) describes a survey that found over half of European and UK managers thought that knowledge management was a fad. Ponzi and Koenig (2002) assume that knowledge management is similar to other management fads such as quality circles, total quality management and business process reengineering. ...read more.


Relationships that are based only on business transactions are fragile. Those that are built on genuine knowledge exchanges and helpfulness are stronger and more resilient. This is yet another reason that knowledge management is relevant to the current business environment (Nonaka 1991). Overall then, it can be said that knowledge management is relevant to the modern business environment. However, like all theories, its real effectiveness lies not in its theoretical value, but in the results it achieves. In turn, this depends on how well organisations are able to utilise it. This is where the issue of knowledge management becomes complex, because as will be shown, there are many factors that make applying knowledge management strategies a complex issue. Implementing a Knowledge Management Culture One of the first major complexities associated with knowledge management is that it is not something that can be implemented only at the higher levels of the organisation. Since every employee is a source of knowledge, knowledge management must be part of the organisation overall (Dearlove 2001). One of the common problems that occurs in knowledge management implementation is that the organisation ignores the people and cultural issues (Walsham 2001, p.599). In an environment where the individual's knowledge is valued and rewarded, establishing a culture that recognizes tacit knowledge and encourages employees to share is critical. ...read more.


But when you think about it, that is an incomplete picture of the value return for something as complex as a knowledge initiative. Financial measures only tell you about past performance - they say nothing about your ability to be successful five years from now. The bigger story about focusing on knowledge is how it can improve the underlying intangibles asset base of the organisation, where you are building capacity for the future. This improves human competence, supports innovation in infrastructure and operations, and builds trusting relationships with stakeholders. However, as long as an organisation is measuring its success based on old models and traditional return on investment measures, it may be completing missing the benefits and successes it is achieving (National Electronic Library for Health 2005). Conclusion With this analysis completed, several points have been made. The first important point is that knowledge management does have important benefits and does achieve the kind of outcomes that organisations are seeking in the current business environment. The second important point is that knowledge management is not simple and easy to implement. It is complex and has significant potential for success, but it does require thorough consideration and effective implementation. Whether knowledge management becomes a fad or an effective approach will depend on whether or not organisations are willing to take the time to make the knowledge management work. ...read more.

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