KM is a set of systematic practices and processes that pursue the creation, distribution and implementation of the knowledge generated in the organizations, in order to improve the organizational and personal development, ultimately for generating competitive advantages.
Knowledge adopts different forms, and it can be transmitted in different ways. It is important to distinguish some concepts, like data, information and knowledge, which are sometimes confused when we address this topic.
Allow us to reflect reality into identifiable items, but :
- do not have objectives by themselves,
- are not structured,
- say nothing about the things, their purpose or interpretation,
- do not have an assessment about their own importance
Data can be considered a raw material for knowledge creation, but they are not knowledge, and can be transformed into knowledge or not.
When we structure a set of data in a rational way, and we give them an objective or purpose, we are managing some type of information.
Is the result of analyzing information, which implies adding value in order to reach a solution or decision in a real situation. It is also an added value for organizations, because it allows them to reach goals or to face demands.
For organizations, knowledge is what allows to generate competitive advantages and to satisfy market demands. But not all knowledge is a competitive advantage for organizations, only those that can generate economic value that is named core or essential knowledge. This knowledge usually is intangible assets, like intellectual assets or intellectual capital.
To face knowledge study, it is also important to distinguish between different kinds of knowledge:
Explicit knowledge (declarative knowledge in psychology) is articulable knowledge, easily communicable, and it embraces facts and data that people know in an aware manner.
Tacit knowledge is a practical knowledge, which is difficult to articulate and communicate. The most important challenge in knowledge management is to find the way to liberate, articulate and communicate tacit knowledge in the organizations.
Individual knowledge can appear at individual, group, organizational, or inter-organizational level. Individual level is restricted to a particular person.
Collective knowledge is distributed among a collective that goes beyond to any individual member.