Dimensions Of Knowledge

A key distinction made by the majority of knowledge management practitioners is distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge. The former is often subconscious, internalized, and the individual may or may not be aware of what he or she knows and how he or she accomplishes particular results. At the opposite end of the spectrum is conscious or explicit knowledge — knowledge that the individual holds explicitly and consciously in mental focus, and may communicate to others. In the popular form of the distinction, tacit knowledge is what is in our heads, and explicit knowledge is what we have codified.

A successful KM program needs, on the one hand, to convert internalized tacit knowledge into explicit codified knowledge in order to share it, but, on the other hand, it also must permit individuals and groups to internalize and make personally meaningful codified knowledge they have retrieved from the KM system.

The focus upon codification and management of explicit knowledge has allowed knowledge management practitioners to appropriate prior work in information management, leading to the frequent accusation that knowledge management is simply a repackaged form of information management.

Another common framework for categorizing the dimensions of knowledge include embedded knowledge (knowledge which has been incorporated into an artifact of some type, for example an information system may have knowledge embedded into its design) and embodied knowledge (representing knowledge as learned capability of the body’s nervous, chemical, and sensory systems). These two dimensions, while frequently used, are not universally accepted.

It is also common to distinguish between the creation of "new knowledge" (i.e., innovation) vs. the transfer of "established knowledge" within a group, organization, or community. Collaborative environments such as communities of practice or the use of social computing tools can be used for both creation and transfer.

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