Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning.
Knowledge Management programs are typically tied to organisational objectives and are intended to achieve specific outcomes, such as shared intelligence, improved performance, competitive advantage, or higher levels of innovation.
One aspect of Knowledge Management, knowledge transfer, has always existed in one form or another. Examples include on-the-job peer discussions, formal apprenticeship, corporate libraries, professional training and mentoring programs. However, with computers becoming more widespread in the second half of the 20th century, specific adaptations of technology such as knowledge bases, expert systems, and knowledge repositories have been introduced to further simplify the process.
Knowledge Management programs attempt to manage the process of creation (or identification), accumulation and application of knowledge across an organisation. Knowledge Management, therefore, attempts to bring under one set of practices various strands of thought and practice relating to:
- intellectual capital and the knowledge worker in the knowledge economy
- the idea of the learning organisation
- various enabling organisational practices, such as Communities of Practice and corporate Yellow Page directories for accessing key
- personnel and expertise
- various enabling technologies such as knowledge bases and expert systems, help desks, corporate intranets and extranets, Content Management, wikis and Document Management
While Knowledge Management programs are closely related to Organizational Learning initiatives, Knowledge Management may be distinguished from Organisational Learning by a greater focus on specific knowledge assets and the development and cultivation of the channels through which knowledge flows.
The emergence of Knowledge Management has also generated new roles and responsibilities in organisations, an early example of which was the Chief Knowledge Officer. In recent years, Personal knowledge management (PKM) practice has arisen in which individuals apply KM practice to themselves, their roles and their career development.