Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice
Knowledge management as an organizational innovation has been with us for more than a decade. As a discipline, it has reached a state of maturity where we can now discern the principles, practices, and tools that make it unique. As a discourse, it has engendered new concepts and categories for us to make sense of the many important ways that organizations use knowledge to create value. Given the richness of ideas and innovations that have emerged under the rubric of knowledge management, and given the tremendous interest in schools and organizations to learn about the subject, it is something of a mystery that there are so few textbooks available. Perhaps it is because the ﬁeld draws upon a wide range of subject areas, or perhaps it is because many different perspectives complicate the discussion of issues that engage knowledge management. Despite these difﬁculties, or perhaps because of them, there is a pressing need for a textbook that presents a thoughtful, systematic view of knowledge management as a coherent body of management theory and practice. The book in our hands answers this call.
The process and practice of knowledge management is a central focus of the book. After a survey of major theoretical approaches in the literature, the book develops a new synthesis that views knowledge management as a continuous cycle of three processes: (1) knowledge creation and capture, (2) knowledge sharing and dissemination, (3) knowledge acquisition and application. This “KM Cycle” model forms the organizational principle of much of the book, and is carefully considered in the ﬁrst six chapters. The balance between process and practice is a delicate one. A process that is regulated strictly by rules and policies can stiﬂe creativity and experimentation. On the other hand, relying only on informal practices may mean that new learning is dispersed and unavailable to others in the organization.
A textbook is a pedagogical apparatus, and this book has incorporated a number of features that will enhance student learning and student-teacher interaction. Each chapter contains learning objectives, side-boxes of short cases, summaries of main messages, and questions for discussion. Beyond these features, the most engaging quality of the book is the combination of experience and enthusiasm that the author brings to the subject: the insights, the resonant examples, the lively language, and the occasional touch of humor. The book is an invitation to students to embark on an exciting and rewarding learning adventure.
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