Week 7: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management

Gray Southon, F. C., Todd, R. J. and Seneque, M. (2002), Knowledge management in three organizations: An exploratory study. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 53: 1047–1059. doi: 10.1002/asi.10112

Chun Wei, C. (2000). Working with knowledge: how information professionals help organisations manage what they know. Library Management, 21(8), 395.

Joanna O’Riordan, A Review of Knowledge Management in the Irish Civil Service 

This week we are focusing on organisation learning and knowledge management. In particular, how organisation and their members learn and how they manage what they know are embedded concepts through managerial strategies and activities. I will exploring these concepts through learning developments, also how knowledge is generated, shared, communicated and employed. This stream of consciousness will be explored from the role of information professionals in knowledge management. This concept first emerged in the world of business and has now transcended through the LIS world.

In Gray, Todd and Senegue’s article, it is acknowledged that Knowledge management is a growing field and one where information professionals often occupy a bridging role between the knowledge management function and management. The authors present three case studies that reflect the dynamics of knowledge management in organisation. The three organizations studied were very different types of organizations—a high status, high-performance corporate law firm; a highly politicized, hierarchical, teaching-based commercial higher educational institute; and a legislation-bound local council. Although only the commercial higher education institute had formally adopted a knowledge management strategy, all expressed quite perceptive understandings of the role of knowledge in their organisation. This reading illuminated how knowledge management is employed in different organisations and for a variety of purposes. I found how knowledge management could be improved especially in the case of the educational institution. It seemed like education institution’s assessment devise was driving a few of the teachers mad. It seemed like the teacher’s suggestions weren’t being heard at all, or of having an input on how the student survey is being decided. Some people would say this is a management issue but knowledge management should be integrated into management so a flaw was obviously deeply enmeshed in their managerial strategies and the activity in question. I did an evaluation for modules earlier but some of the lecturers have themselves confessed they don’t know where this data is being used.

I really enjoyed the readings this week. The other case study focused on the Irish civil service’s knowledge management which in turn took a systematic approach to knowledge management in attempting to find out what it is, how can it be ‘audited’ and improvements that can be made utilising knowledge management. Choo (2000) and O’Riordan make the declaration between ‘explicit, cultural and tacit’ knowledge which is quite influential in broadening our concept of knowledge management and giving it context. The idea of subsets of knowledge reiterated my belief of the different varieties of learning, thus different end results of that learning. My Vark learning results echoed back to me, multimodal and I think Choo’s last statement of the article epitomised an ethos that sometimes is ignored in business and even the education process.  ‘Knowledge management is not the domain of a single profession, but is the result of collaboration across multiple streams of expertise.’ Pooling resources is essential to gaining a wider understanding of ourselves and those around us and yet in some of the work place environments, I have encountered individuality is rewarded and competition against colleagues is encouraged. Darwin’s infamous quote: “survival of the fittest” is something to think about. It still is one of the most quoted lines in our society today, hopefully sometime in the future; Choo’s quote will reside alongside Darwin in perspectives on gathering and knowledge management.

Choo article also suggests keeping an updated online curriculum vitae and ‘expertise directory’, hopefully some of my blogging this year will constitute as this.


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