A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge  
TABLE OF CONTENTS     What is e-Knowledge?
© SCUP 2003
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Understanding e-Knowledge (continued)


Chapter 1

What is e-Knowledge?

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  • Implicit or tacit knowledge is subjective, experience-based knowledge. Typically, it is not easily expressed in words, sentences, and formulae. It is highly context specific. It includes, but is not limited, to beliefs, values, tradecraft, mental models, and technical skills. Tacit knowledge resides in formal and informal networks of experts and communities of reflective practice. Some of this knowledge can be codified, made explicit, and migrated into content repositories and marketplaces. Most is accessed through person-to-person knowledge sharing or social interactions. New opportunities for sharing are made possible through pervasive, secure, online interactivity through communities of practice. Practitioners are developing heightened appreciation for the importance of such vibrant sources of tacit knowledge.

    Tacit knowledge includes the informal knowledge that exists through common practice and is shared via e-mails, communities of practice, expert networks, and other permutations of online interaction. As organizations develop their e-knowledge competencies, they enhance their capacity to nurture, harvest, and use informal, tacit knowledge.

The policies, practices, competencies, networks, communities, and marketplaces for exchanging explicit and tacit e-knowledge are developing today. Their refinement to handle continuously revised knowledge will catalyze and drive the revolution in learning and knowledge management tomorrow.

The nature of knowledge is that it makes itself obsolete.

Peter Drucker, 1999


Interactions Between Tacit
and Explicit Knowledge

By definition, knowledge is dynamic, not static. Knowledge continuously changes meaning and form. Whether knowledge is held by individuals, organizations, communities of practice or networks of organizations, the content, context, and community in which it is used are always changing.

It is especially critical to understand how elements of explicit and tacit knowledge can transcend their current states through progressive cycles of conversion. Ikujiro Nonaka (1999) has captured the essence of the relationships and interactions of tacit and explicit knowledge in four modes: socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization. These knowledge conversions are portrayed in the figure next page.


Depicting the Interactions Between Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

In their work on the integration of e-learning and knowledge management, Woelk and Agarwal (2002) have schematically represented the transitions of knowledge between Nonaka’s four phases. They have added a fifth phase, cognition, in which the knowledge seeker makes sense of tacit knowledge in context through applying it to a business problem.

Understanding e-Knowledge
as a “Thing” and a “Flow”

In recent years, practitioners have begun to understand the complexities of modeling knowledge in all its forms. In consequence, the assumption of a clean delineation between tacit and explicit knowledge and the migration of knowledge between different states is questionable. The emerging ecology of knowledge representation suggests that knowledge exists as both a thing and a flow at the same time. The “thing” is knowledge that is “known” (the “know-what”) and can be formally shared and used. The “flow” is the changing contexts or passage of knowledge through the informal structures of organizations where communities of practice and others make sense of it and convert it from “knowable” to “known.”



Knowledge Management Phases



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