You are on page 1of 12

 Schwartz

Chapter.III

A.Birds-Eye.View.of.
Knowledge.Management:
Creating.a.Disciplined.Whole.from.
Many.Interdisciplinary.Parts

Davd G. Schwartz, Bar-llan Unversty, Israel

Abstract
Knowledge management is a fragmented field, whether of necessity or of design. In this
chapter, we present and discuss data that maps out a number of the characteristics of the
field. We then discuss trends that indicate how knowledge management is evolving into a
discipline in its own right and present some thoughts on what the dominant characteristics
of that discipline need to be.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

Introduction
Defining a new discipline is no easy task, and establishing one is yet a harder task. Yet from
the past decade of research, either directly called or indirectly related to knowledge manage-
ment (KM), emerges a discipline. However, KM remains a fragmented field with multiple,
often conflicting terminologies and goals. In this chapter, we present and discuss data that
map out a number of the characteristics of the field. We then discuss trends that indicate
how knowledge management is evolving into a discipline in its own right and present some
thoughts on what the dominant characteristics of that discipline need to be.
One may be tempted to learn from the example of information systems as a discipline. But
after more than 40 years of Information Systems research, there still remains great diver-
gence and diversity in how accurately to define this important field. Banville and Landry
(1989), Backhouse, Liebenau, and Land (1991), Vessey, Ramesh, and Glass (2002), Adam
and Fitzgerald (2000), Baskerville and Myers (2002), and Avison (2003) are but six of the
many attempts to reach a broadly accepted definition. Fortunately, the lack of acceptance of
any such definition has in no way hampered the development of the field. On the contrary,
some, such as Frank (1998), question whether a common profile for Information Systems
research is even desirable.
This same sort of qualification process might be applied to the endeavor of knowledge
management, and we could ask what constitutes the field of KM, what common profile can
be ascribed to KM researchers, and if we, in fact, can consider knowledge management as
a discipline in its own right. Jennex and Croasdell (2005) have called for a determination
that knowledge management be considered a discipline. As they discuss, meeting Kuhn’s
(1996) criteria for the establishment of a discipline may be a necessary step; it is clearly not
sufficient. The actual nature, characteristics, behaviors, and interaction of those researchers
identifying themselves as KM researchers ultimately will determine whether we emerge a
discipline or not. The analysis presented in this chapter moves us a step forward in that di-
rection by taking a broad analytical view of KM research underway from both departmental
and geographic standpoints.
In this chapter, we will focus to a large extent on the publication process of one of the
most comprehensive knowledge management works of recent years, the Encyclopedia of
Knowledge Management (Schwartz, 2006). We will present some of the findings from the
editorial process first reported in Schwartz (2005) and draw insights regarding the global
knowledge management community. We will begin with a number of findings based on the
initial response to a call for papers for the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management that was
issued in October 2003 (Schwartz, 2003). We will present some descriptive statistics that
form what in essence is a profile of the self-described knowledge management community.
We will then present an overview of the actual contents of the encyclopedia and analyze it
from a high-level perspective in an attempt to map out the field itself. By presenting a lay-
ered view of knowledge management in which different streams of research are categorized,
we believe a clearer picture of the state of KM emerges. Not only that, but by following a
layered systematic approach, we can draw implications for both the study of KM and the
adoption of KM in modern organizations.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
0 Schwartz

Background. and. Motivation


Managing the editorial process to create the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management meant
creating an overall map of research being conducted that impacts KM both directly and indi-
rectly. It required reaching out to practitioners and academics in a wide range of disciplines
in order to elicit their views on what makes knowledge management the pursuit that it is.
And it meant attempting to organize that knowledge in a meaningful way so that it can be
delivered to and made use of by KM researchers and practitioners in the future. In essence,
the same acquire-organize-distribute model (Schwartz, Divitini, & Brasethvik, 2000) that
can be used to manage the knowledge of a single enterprise was modified and applied to a
multi-organizational and multi-party knowledge management editorial task.
In an attempt to provide as broad of coverage as possible for KM, the call for papers, in-
cluding a detailed list of topics and subtopics (Figure 1) was prepared in consultation with
the international editorial advisory board (http://www.idea-group.com/reference/details.
asp?ID=4464&v=editorialBoard). It was through the interactions of the EAB that the CFP
metamorphosed from what was originally a very IT-centric worldview to the knowledge and
organization-centric view of its final form. Further modifications (shown in italics) were the
result of feedback from potential contributors subsequent to the release of the CFP.

Soliciting.Contributions

Proposals for contributions to the EKM were solicited through five main channels:

1. The ISWORLD mailing list,


2. The DBWORLD mailing list,
3. The knowledge acquisition/modeling/management (KAW) mailing list,
4. The publisher’s (IGI) master mailing list, and
5. The editorial advisory board; each member of the editorial advisory board was asked
to distribute the CFP through his or her personal mailing list of relevant researchers.

Departmental Affiliation

One place to start understanding the directions being taken in knowledge management re-
search is the departmental affiliation of those authors working in an area that they identify
as relevant to knowledge management.
Authors affiliated with 29 distinct disciplines found it relevant to contribute article proposals.
Table 1 shows the main departmental affiliation of proposal authors from the preliminary
round of submissions to the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management. Where an author
indicated multiple affiliations, the first affiliation listed was used.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

Figure 1. Detailed major topics from the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management CFP,
each of which divides into multiple subtopic entries
Theoretical.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management. Legal.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management.
Defining and Understanding Knowledge Intellectual Property/Capital
Types of Knowledge Privacy Issues
Philosophical underpinnings Digital Rights Management
Ontologies of Knowledge Management Liability and the Reliance upon KM Systems
Historical Underpinnings Ethics
Organizations and the Inquiring Organization Technological.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management.
The People Perspective Knowledge Representation
Knowledge Management Models Knowledge Organization and Indexing
Processes.of.Knowledge.Management. Meta-knowledge and Metadata
Knowledge Creation Storage and Retrieval
Knowledge Discovery Presentation and Application Integration
Knowledge Acquisition Artificial Intelligence in KM
Knowledge Classification Computational Experimentation
Knowledge Verification and Validation Data Mining in KM
Knowledge Codification Other specific technologies impacting KM
Knowledge Calibration Application-specific Knowledge Management Issues
Modeling Knowledge Biomedical Knowledge Management
Knowledge Integration Commercial and Financial KM
Knowledge Sharing Industrial Knowledge Management
Knowledge Dissemination Military Knowledge Management
Knowledge Maintenance Mobile Knowledge Management
Organizational. and. Social. Aspects. of. Knowledge. Safety-Critical Systems
Management.
Customer Knowledge Management
Knowledge Transfer
Mathematical Knowledge Management
Corporate Culture
KM in Counter-terrorism
Motivation
Higher Education
Organizational Memory
Workflow Systems
Organizational Learning
Engineering Design
Cross-border knowledge
Legal Knowledge Management
Innovation Processes
Social Welfare Organizations
Social Capital
Franchise KM
Social Network Analysis
Software Maintenance Knowledge
Community-based knowledge
Noteworthy. Knowledge. Management. Systems. and.
Organizational Structure Initiatives.
Managerial.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management.
KM Strategies and Practices
KM Systems Analysis and Design
KM Systems Management and Lifecycle
Human Resource Management

The top four affiliations show an overwhelming concentration in the fields in which knowl-
edge management has been addressed actively over the past decade.
These top four affiliations reflect what may be expected from most of the knowledge man-
agement community. Of greater interest perhaps is the participation in KM research in what
can be termed nontraditional KM affiliations.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
 Schwartz

Table 1. Departmental affiliation of responding authors


Rank Main Departmental Affiliation Count %
1 Information Systems 111 44.58%
2 Computer Science 39 15.66%
3 Information and Library Science 15 6.02%
4 Management 12 4.82%
5 Communications 6 2.41%
6 Economics 6 2.41%
7 Marketing 6 2.41%
8 Cognitive Science 5 2.01%
9 Management Science 5 2.01%
10 Philosophy 5 2.01%
11 Engineering Management 4 1.61%
12 Social Psychology 4 1.61%
13 Information Management 3 1.20%
14 Organizational Science 3 1.20%
15 Sociology 3 1.20%
16 Education 2 0.80%
17 Engineering 2 0.80%
18 Finance 2 0.80%
19 Human Resource Management 2 0.80%
20 Innovation Studies 2 0.80%
21 Mathematics 2 0.80%
22 Media Management 2 0.80%
23 Technology Management 2 0.80%
24 Banking 1 0.40%
25 Business Administration 1 0.40%
26 Cultural Studies 1 0.40%
27 Real Estate 1 0.40%
28 Science and Technology 1 0.40%
29 Statistics 1 0.40%
249 100%

A second point of interest from Table 1 is the wide range of departmental participation,
lending strength to the interdisciplinary nature of KM and providing an indication as to what
types of courses a form program knowledge management studies might need to include.
Also of note is the complete lack of any departmental affiliation specific to knowledge man-
agement. While a number of authors were associated with KM Research Labs or facilities,
these were clearly research-oriented initiatives and not teaching initiatives or programs.

Geographic.Distribution

Another area of interest is that of geographic distribution. Here, we see concentrations of


KM research by country and geographic region.
Table 3 presents the total number of authors by country in which they work (i.e., main
university/employer affiliation).

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

Table 2. Division of respondents into traditional and nontraditional IS/management fields


Traditional.Information.and.
Management-Related.Fields Nontraditional.Fields
Information Systems 44.6% Economics 2.4%
Computer Science 15.7% Marketing 2.4%
Information Science 6.0% Cognitive Science 2.0%
Management 4.8% Philosophy 2.0%
Communications 2.4% Social Psychology 1.6%
Management Science 2.0% Sociology 1.2%
Engineering Management 1.6% Education 0.8%
Information Management 1.2% Engineering 0.8%
Organizational Science 1.2% Finance 0.8%
Human Resource Management 0.8% Innovation Studies 0.8%
Media Management 0.8% Mathematics 0.8%
Technology Management 0.8% Banking 0.4%
Business Administration 0.4% Cultural Studies 0.4%
Real Estate 0.4%
Science and Technology 0.4%
Statistics 0.4%
Total 82.3% Total 17.7%

Table 3. National affiliation of responding authors


Rank Author Affiliation by Country Count Percent
1 United States 76 30.52%
2 England 26 10.44%
3 Italy 17 6.83%
4 Germany 16 6.43%
5 Netherlands 16 6.43%
6 Israel 15 6.02%
7 Australia 13 5.22%
8 France 13 5.22%
9 Ireland 10 4.02%
10 Spain 10 4.02%
11 Canada 9 3.61%
12 Brazil 5 2.01%
13 Singapore 4 1.61%
14 Switzerland 4 1.61%
15 Denmark 2 0.80%
16 Hong Kong 2 0.80%
17 India 2 0.80%
18 Norway 2 0.80%
19 South Korea 2 0.80%
20 Austria 1 0.40%
21 Greece 1 0.40%
22 Japan 1 0.40%
23 Macau 1 0.40%
24 South Africa 1 0.40%
249 100.00%

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
 Schwartz

Table 4. Regional affiliation of responding authors

Geographic.by.Region Count Percentage


EMEA 98 39%
North America 85 34%
UK 36 14%
Asia Pacific 25 10%
South America 5 2%

The. Resulting. Volume


The actual table of contents, by topic, of the encyclopedia is presented in the “Appendix”
section. The six logical topics form a structured framework for the research and study of
knowledge management. Within each main section, specific subtopics are addressed, and
within each subtopic, there appear a number of articles addressing different aspects and
perspectives. This result was achieved after two rounds of review and consultation with the
editorial advisory board.

Discussion
The contents, as described previously, necessitated a new way to think about how all these
topics and subtopics interrelate. And to that end, we developed the diagram shown in Figure
2. The first five sections of the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management are the result of what
can be characterized as a layered approach to the discipline of knowledge management.
The holistic view of knowledge management and its foundations can be used as a guide
for research as well as study. The central core of philosophies (the middle) must inform
our choice of practical knowledge management processes (the first ring). These processes
must be implemented and adapted in order to address organizational, social, and managerial
needs (the second ring). Finally, the implementation of KM process to meet our organiza-
tional needs must be supported by and implemented through a set of relevant information
technologies (the outer ring).
The primary processes that make up knowledge management in practice ideally should
derive from the core theories. Figure 2 illustrates a number of philosophers whose theo-
ries of knowledge, economics, and business form the core of knowledge management.
Understanding these philosophies is fundamental to creating a lasting discipline. Without
grounding our processes in their theoretical soil, we run the very real risk of simply cobbling
together processes on an opportunistic basis. In a disciplined manner, we must turn to our
theoretical core in determining the essential processes of KM. In cases in which experience
begets a process that has yet to be identified with a core theory, one must not belittle the
need to eventually discover that grounding. At the end of the day, this is what will help to
distinguish fad from enduring science.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

The layer of knowledge management processes presents one view of the different stages,
activities, and cycles that comprise knowledge management. Up to 30 different processes
can be identified, depending on the model of KM chosen. We have based our diagram on
those processes identified and discussed in Schwartz et al. (2000). Processes need to be
pragmatic in terms of our ability to implement them, comprehensive so that we can achieve
an end-to-end solutions, replicable and generalizable so they can be applied across a wide
range of organizations. Processes are:

• Technology-independent,
• Application-independent,
• Founded on theory, and
• Generalizable.

That is not to say that these processes should be devoid of organizational context. On the
contrary, it is the function of the third layer, organizational, social, and managerial (OSM)
considerations, to mold, combine, and innovate using the KM processes in order to meet
their well-defined theory-driven goals. OSM elements are:

• Technology-independent,
• Application-specific,
• Founded on practice, and
• Organization-specific.

Encasing all is the outer ring—the enabling technologies that so often seem to be driving
KM rather than facilitating it. Figure 2, of course, is representative rather than exhaustive.
Additional technologies and new applications of existing technologies will continue to
expand this layer. The technologies are:

• Possibly interchangeable,
• Application-independent,
• Founded on practice, and
• Organization-independent.

Moving.from.Layer.to.Layer

One benefit from taking this holistic view of the field is that it enables a novel KM implemen-
tation strategy. It allows us to focus at an operative level on the issues we need to address in
practice; for example, addressing the organizational, social, and managerial elements of the
third ring. Then, we can move either up or down to determine (a) which KM processes are

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
 Schwartz

Figure 2. Layer upon layer of knowledge management

Theoretical
and
Knowledge
Representation Philosophical
Core
Unstructured Data
Indexing and Storage Information
Organizational Learning Retrieval
and Organizational Memory
Cooperation Com
Adv petitiv
ant e
age
Semantics Intellectual
Meta-knowledge
and Capital
Dissemination Creation
Ontology Kant Strategy
Minsky Plato
Maintenance Discovery
Gadamer Aristotle
Culture Sharing Gathering
Transfer
Heid- Validation
Reuse egger
Polanyi Knowledge
Software
Agents
Theoretical
Philosophical
Discovery
Core

Ryle Marshall
KM
Metrics Processes
Privacy
Maimo-
Popper
nides
Mobility
Networks Kuhn Hegel
Desc-
Trust
artes
Motivation
Modeling Calibration
Organizational,
Classification Integration Social, and
Data Mining Social Portals
Communities
Networks
Managerial
Elements
Systems Architecture,
Interface, Integration and Lifecycle Computer
Human Factors Mediated
Communication
Security, Encryption Supporting
Access control and Enabling
Technologies

needed to support the OSM elements selected and (b) which technologies can be leveraged
to implement the required processes.
Another benefit to this layered view is helping to focus the study of knowledge manage-
ment in an academic environment. Programs of study first need to provide specialization in
each of the layers and, therefore, must include a philosophical component; an introduction
to process and process-oriented thinking and planning; OSM theory and practice courses;
and finally, enough of a foundation in the wide range of technologies to allow for intelligent
evaluation and adoption. Second, a KM program of study needs to provide tools and under-
standing in order to enable students to interrelate the layers and to follow how technology,
OSM element, and process complete each other.
In summary, the advantages of this approach are as follows:

• Each layer can be isolated and studied on its own.


• We can focus on needs and requirements of each layer independently.
• Enables one to consider how each layer is supported by the others.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

• Creates a flexible conceptualization of KM that is anchored in research but support-


able in practice.
• Once a layer focus is determined, we can look at connections with other layers.

Conclusion
There is no question that knowledge management has extended its reach into a staggering
number of areas of study. While the fields of computer science, library science, sociology,
psychology, business strategy, and the like will remain disciplines in their own rights, there
clearly are benefits to be gained by starting to view knowledge management as a discipline
separate from the others.
We believe that the layered view of knowledge management can be of great help in estab-
lishing and advancing the discipline.

• The central core of philosophies must inform our choice of practical knowledge man-
agement processes. Primary processes that make up KM in practice ideally should
derive from the core theories. Without grounding our processes in theory, we risk
cobbling together processes on an opportunistic basis.
• These processes must be implemented and adapted to address managerial, social and
organizational needs. The layer of processes we have chosen presents just one view
of the different stages, activities, and cycles that comprise knowledge management.
Processes need to be:
 Pragmatic in terms of our ability to implement them.
 Comprehensive so we can achieve end-to-end solutions.
 Replicable.
 Generalizable to be applied across a wide range of organizations.
• The third layer, organizational, social and managerial considerations, uses an organi-
zational context to mold, combine, and innovate using KM processes.
• Finally, the implementation of the KM process to meet our organizational needs must
be supported by and implemented through a set of relevant technologies. The outer
layer is the enabling technologies that so often seem to be driving KM rather than
facilitating it.

We have taken some of the first steps to enable this to happen by mapping out the distinct
elements that comprise knowledge management, from each of its contributing disciplines.
We then have shown how these elements are grouped into logical and interrelated layers. The
structured interrelation between the layers not only serves to create a conceptual framework
for research in KM but also serves as a guide for developing programs of study and as a
basis to develop novel implementation strategies for KM. Developing KM strategies and

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
 Schwartz

plans by moving among layers and taking the necessary elements for a given KM situation
that each layer has to offer will better equip the modern organization to deal with what can
be an overwhelming field.

References
Adam, F., & Fitzgerald, B. (2000). The status of the IS field: Historical perspective and
practical orientation. Information Research, 5(4). Retrieved from http://informationr.
net/ir/5-4/paper81.html
Avison, D. E. (2003). Is IS an intellectual subject? (Response to opinion piece.) European
Journal of Information Systems, 12(3), 229-230.
Backhouse, J., Liebenau, J., & Land, F. (1991). On the discipline of information systems.
Journal of Information Systems, 1(1), 19-27.
Banville, C., & Landry, M. (1989). Can the field of MIS be disciplined? Communications
of the ACM, 32(1), 48-60.
Baskerville, R. L., & Myers, M. D. (2002). Information systems as a reference discipline.
MIS Quarterly, 26(1), 1-14.
Frank, U. (1998). Reflections on the core of the information systems discipline [report no.
14]. Institute fur Wirtschaftsinformatik, University of Koblenz-Landau.
Jennex, M. E., & Croasdell, D. (2005). Is knowledge management a discipline? International
Journal of Knowledge Management, 1(1), i-v.
Kuhn, T.S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of
Chicago Press.
Schwartz, D. G. (2003). Call for papers. The Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management.
Retrieved October 1, 2003, from http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~dgs/ekm/EKM-CFP.pdf
Schwartz, D. G. (2005). The emerging discipline of knowledge management. International
Journal of Knowledge Management, 1(2), 1-11.
Schwartz, D. G. (2006). Encyclopedia of knowledge management. Hershey, PA: Idea Group
Reference.
Schwartz, D. G., Divitini, M., & Brasethvik, T. (2000). Internet-based organizational memory
and knowledge management. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.
Vessey, I., Ramesh, V., & Glass, R. L. (2002). Research in information systems: An empirical
study of diversity in the discipline and its journals. Journal of Management Informa-
tion Systems, 19(2), 129-174.

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.
A Brds-Eye Vew of Knowledge Management 

Appendix
Table of Contents, Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management

1..........Theoretical.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management
Knowledge Management Models
Philosophical Underpinnings
Types of Knowledge
Effects of Knowledge Management
2..........Processes.of.Knowledge.Management
Creation
Discovery
Gathering
Calibration
Modeling
Integration
Dissemination
Sharing
Reuse
Synthesis
3..........Organizational.and.Social.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management
Organizational Learning
Organizational Memory
Organizational Structure
Transfer
Corporate Culture
Motivation
Social Networks Analysis
Community-Based
Innovation Processes
Intellectual Capital
Privacy Issues
4..........Managerial.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management
Knowledge Management Strategies
Knowledge Management Systems
Managing the Knowledge Environment
Metrics
Operational
Governance
Mobility
5..........Technological.Aspects.of.Knowledge.Management
Representation
Artificial Intelligence in Knowledge Management
Data Mining
Meta-Knowledge and Metadata
Mobility
6 Application-Specific Knowledge Management

Copyright © 2007, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission
of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.