Companies are facing a paradigm shift: from productive management to talent management.
From the late 20th century to the present day, the main source of economic wealth creation is knowledge. The main source of competitive advantage for an organization has been considered to lie in what it knows, how it uses what it knows, and the ability to learn new things (Barney, 1991).
Starting from this conception of knowledge as a source of wealth, our time has been baptized as the knowledge society (Viedma, 2001). What implications does this have in the world of organizations?
Managing knowledge and competitiveness
To maintain their competitive advantage, organizations need to establish a strategy. The starting point for formulating this strategy is to identify and assess the resources and capacities available in the organization. These resources can be: tangible (products, income), intangible (culture) and human capital (knowledge, skills and capacities).
Not all the knowledge of an organization becomes a source of sustainable competitive advantage; Only those that contribute to the generation of economic value will be so. Here, knowledge is also understood as skills, experience, contextualized information, values, attitudes, know-how , etc., all of which have been called essential knowledge or “core competencies” (Viedma, 2001).
Knowledge as an individual asset
It is important to indicate that knowledge is located fundamentally in people. It is an individual asset that is developed mainly through learning.
In today’s context, more demanding and dynamic than any previous era, organizations need to bring that knowledge to the surface in order to turn it into a common good and be able to control it. In recent decades, a new trend has been initiated, both at a research and operational level, which aims to achieve this end: knowledge management (KM).
Starting from the premise that knowledge resides in the individual, KM is understood as a transforming process of such an individual asset into an organizational asset. For this process to take place successfully, the existence of a commitment among all the members of the organization, a correct dissemination of knowledge and the successful incorporation of the processes and systems necessary to ensure that such knowledge is institutionalized and remains among its members is essential.
KM is essential for the adaptability of organizations, their survival and competitiveness in environments where change is rapid, growing and discontinuous. In KM, people, organizational systems, and information and communication technology intervene synergistically.
Knowledge Management as a discipline
KM is a young and promising discipline aimed at promoting innovation and the competitive advantage of those organizations that integrate into their operational and business processes activities to capture, document, recover and reuse knowledge, as well as to create, transfer and exchange it (Dayan and Evan, 2006).
Knowledge Management not only affects business organizations, it is also important in research practice, at a scientific level. It is a broad and complex concept, with multiple dimensions and interrelated activities (identification, creation, development, exchange, transformation, retention, renewal, dissemination, application, etc.) that generate an asset of value for the company, knowledge (Lloria, 2008).
Researching in knowledge management
Research in CG has been approached from different disciplines. Thus, there are studies that come, for example, from psychology, sociology, economics, engineering, computer science or management .
Each contribution from these areas has served to provide discoveries on different aspects of Knowledge Management, but so far no comprehensive explanatory universal framework has been reached, nor for any specific domain. It follows that interdisciplinary research is necessary, rather than research activities focused on a single area of knowledge (Nonaka and Teece, 2001).
What is GC and what is it not?
KM is a process:
1. Management continuum that serves for (Quintas et al., 1997)
- Know current and emerging needs
- Identify and exploit the knowledge acquired
- Develop new opportunities in the organization
2. Facilitator of knowledge flows and sharing this to improve individual and collective productivity (Guns and Välikangas, 1998)
3. Dynamic of converting unreflective practice into reflective, in such a way that: (a) it brings out the norms that govern the practice of activities (b) helps to shape collective understanding and (c) facilitates the emergence of heuristic knowledge (Tsoukas and Vladimirou, 2001)
QA processes and phases
There are authors who differentiate three types of processes in CG (Argote et al., 2003):
- Creation or development of new knowledge
- Knowledge retention
- Knowledge transfer
Lehaney and colleagues (2004) define KM as: “systematic organization, (…), with appropriate objectives and feedback mechanisms, under the control of a sector (public or private) that facilitates the creation, retention, exchange, identification, acquisition, use and measurement of information and new ideas, to achieve strategic objectives, (…), which are subject to financial, legal, resource, political, technical, cultural and social limitations. “
KM should not be confused with information management or management of the technology that supports it. Nor is it exactly the same as talent management. Knowledge and its management require human intervention and, in this sense, learning and tacit knowledge are fundamental in this process. Information technology is nothing more than a support to the whole process, but it is not the ultimate goal of KM (Martín and Casadesús, 1999).
- Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17 (1), 99–120.
- Dayan, R., & Evans, S. (2006). KM your way to CMMI. Journal of Knowledge Management, 10 (1), 69-80.
- Guns, W., & Välikangas, L. (1998). Rethinking knowledge work: creating value through idiosyncratic knowledge. Journal of Knowledge Management, 1 (4), 287-293.
- Lehaney, B., Coakes, E., & Gillian, J. (2004). Beyond Knowledge Management. London: Idea Group Publishing.
- Lloria, B. (2008). A review of the main aproaches to knowledge management. Konwledge Management Research & Practice, 6, 77-89.
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- Nonaka, I., & Teece, D. (2001). Research directions for knowledge management. In I. Nonaka, & D. Teece (Edits.), Managing Industrial Knowledge: Creation, Transfer and Utilization (pp. 330-335). London: Sage.
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- Tsoukas, H., & Vladimirou, E. (2001). What is the organizational knowledge? Journal of Management Studies, 38 (7), 973-993.
- Viedma, J. (2001). ICBS Intellectual capital benchmarking systems. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 2 (2), 148-164.