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Knowledge Management: Are We Missing Something?



As commercial organisations face up to modern pressures to downsize and outsource they have begun to realise that they have lost knowledge as people leave and take with them what they know. This knowledge is increasingly being recognised as an important resource and organisations are now taking steps to manage it. In addition, as the pressures for globalisation increase, collaboration and co-operation is becoming more distributed and international. Knowledge sharing in a distributed international environment is becoming an essential part of Knowledge Management (KM), although this area does not yet appear to be given much attention. In this paper we make a distinction between hard and soft knowledge within an organisation and argue that much of what is called KM deals with hard knowledge and emphasises capture-codify-store. This is a major weakness of the current approach to KM, equating more with Information Management than Knowledge Management. Soft knowledge is concerned more with the social and cultural aspects of knowledge, its construction and the processes through which it is sustained and shared. This paper addresses this weakness by exploring the sharing of 'soft' knowledge using the concept of communities of practice.

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