- Ebook: Information Modelling and Knowledge Bases XXV
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This vision is a transposition of our approach to knowledge management. In this chapter, the basic concepts presented are derived from our industrial experience and university researches. As an operational manager responsible for the deployment of innovative technologies including computer-aided design and knowledge-based systems in a large industrial company—at a time when these technologies had just been developed in universities and laboratories—we developed empirical models with a socio-technical vision of organizations.
These models have been used as references to generate the organizational learning process that induced organizational members to appropriate and use these technologies. Later on, we became associate researcher in the domain of knowledge management, and we highlighted the lack of KM models with a socio-technical perspective. In addition, this reflection is based on 1 few books posing the fundamentals of knowledge management [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ], 2 the work of the European Committee for Standardization CEN KM working group [ 10 ], and 3 the thesis conducted at LAMSADE 2 [ 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 ].
We wish that this chapter should be useful for all stakeholders of the digital transformation processes within organizations. Our research has led us to identify two major approaches to knowledge management in organizations: a technological approach and a managerial and sociological approach. These approaches are significant for the fundamental conceptual distinction of two world visions: the cognitive perspective and the constructivist perspective, highlighted by [ 4 ]. Thereafter, we agree with their analysis and paraphrase, in large part, what they say, which describes two ways of approaching the concept of knowledge in organizations.
The cognitive perspective is the best established and best known. It began in the early s with considerable advances in computer science, systems theory, psychology, and neuroscience. The cognitive sciences provided important insights into the physical structure of the brain and the functioning of cognitive processes. Formal models of the cognitive system as an information processing machine and logical reasoning were developed.
Knowledge was envisaged as representations of the world consisting of a number of objects and events, and the key task of the brain or any other cognitive system was to represent or model them as accurately as possible. Knowledge was universal; two cognitive systems were to lead to the same representation of the same object or event. For cognitivists, knowledge was explicit, capable of being encoded and stored, and easily communicable to others. Moreover [ 17 ], specified that from a cognitive perspective, two major hypotheses concerning knowledge can be identified: Knowledge is seen as a representation of a pre-defined world.
This implies that reality, whether objects, events, or states, lies outside the subject of knowledge and is given objectively for everyone. Resting on new contributions of the neurobiology, the cognitive sciences, and the philosophy, the constructivist point of view envisages the cognition as an act of construction or creation rather than an act of representation [ 4 ].
Because knowledge lives in ourselves and is closely linked to our senses and our previous experiences, we are brought to create the unique world to ourselves. So, knowledge is not universal, and the constructivist carries only not much attention to comparisons between different models. The constructivist approach considers that the cognitive system works when knowledge allows effective actions.
Ebook: Information Modelling and Knowledge Bases XXV
For certain constructivists knowledge is explicit, but others can be tacit, strongly personal, not easy to express, and consequently little easy to share with others [ 4 ]. These two perspectives influenced the theories and the practices of the management. However, the interest of the constructivist studies is that they consider as well the tacit aspects that the explicit aspects of knowledge.
The main features of these two perspectives, enriched by [ 19 ], are summarized in Table 1. Knowledge is seen as a representation of a pre-defined world. Knowledge is universal: two cognitive systems should lead to the same representation of the same object or event. Cognition the ability to know is seen as information processing and rule-based symbol manipulation. The cognitive approach considers that the key task of the brain or any other cognitive system is to represent or model reality as accurately as possible. For cognitivists, knowledge is explicit, can be encoded and stored, and is easily transmitted to others.
Cognition the ability to know is considered an act of construction or creation rather than an act of representation. The constructivist approach considers the cognitive system to work when knowledge enables effective actions. For constructivists some knowledge is explicit, but others may be tacit, highly personal, not easily expressed, and therefore difficult to share with others. Tacit knowledge involves talents, dexterity, and skills characterized by perception and intuition. We define these postulates hereafter. This postulate is based on the theories of [ 20 ] concerning organizational learning.
They are constructed by individuals based on their unique life experiences, perceptions, and understandings of world.
Online Information Modelling And Knowledge Bases Xxv
Mental models are used to reason and make decisions and can be the basis of individual behaviors. They provide the mechanism through which new information is filtered and stored. Here, commensurability is the common space of the whole interpretative frameworks of each member.
Information becomes knowledge only when it is sense-read through the interpretative framework of the receiver. Any information inconsistent with his interpretative framework is not perceived in most cases.
Therefore, we postulate that knowledge is not an object processed independently of the person who has to act. This individual knowledge is tacit knowledge, self-explanatory or not, and can be later transformed into collective knowledge, as it is shared with other people. Tacit knowledge involves talents, dexterity, and capacities characterized by the perception and the intuition.
Consequently, formalized and codified knowledge that are independent from individual, are not more than information. The conditions and limits under which knowledge can be thought of as an object and therefore can be managed as information as follows: Knowledge is explicit, stable and well defined, recognized by a specific homogeneous population. Knowledge is dissociated from action and can be thought of as an object. Within organizations, activities contributing to value-added processes and support processes, defined by [ 25 ], use and create knowledge. Moreover, knowledge is partially characterized by the aim of these activities.
In particular, the role of the stakeholder, involved with these activities, must be taken into account.
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Therefore, knowledge is linked to their decisions, their actions, and their relationships with the surrounding systems people and artifacts. The tangible elements take the shape of formalized knowledge in a physical format databases, procedures, plans, models, algorithms, and analysis and synthesis documents or are embedded in automated management systems conception and production systems and in products. Relying to the three postulates mentioned overhead, it appears that KM addresses activities, which utilize and create knowledge more than knowledge itself.
With regard to this question, since , our group of research 3 has adopted a managerial and socio-technical approach to KM defined as follows [ 27 ]:. KM is the management of the activities and the processes that enhance the utilization and the creation of knowledge within an organization, according to two strongly interlinked goals, and their underlying economic and strategic dimensions, organizational dimensions, socio-cultural dimensions, and technological dimensions: i a patrimony goal, and ii a sustainable innovation goal p. The patrimony goal has to do with the preservation of knowledge, their reuse, and their actualization; it is a static goal.
The sustainable innovation goal is more dynamic. It is concerned with organizational learning that is creation and integration of knowledge at the organizational level. It leads to integrate the whole dimensions that should be involved in the management based on knowledge within organizations. In doing so, it induces a well-balanced technological, organizational, and socio-technical management based on knowledge strategy that mutualizes and structures the various themes discussed in this chapter.
In this section we will refer to our research that leads to distinguishing two main approaches underlying KM: i a technological approach that answers a demand of solutions based on the technologies of information, communication, and artificial intelligence and ii a managerial and sociological approach, which is people-focused and integrates knowledge as resources contributing to the implementation of the strategic vision of the organization.
Snowden [ 28 ] consolidates our research when writing about developing practices of knowledge management pp. He identifies two different approaches to KM: 1 an approach that arises from information management where knowledge is seen as a thing or entity that can be managed and distributed through advanced use of technology and 2 an approach that sees the problem from a sociological vision where knowledge is seen as human capability to act.
Taking into account our researches and observations, we can say that technological approach of KM is the most widespread. Considered from the point of view of the information system, knowledge is implicitly treated as an object independently of the person who creates and uses it. It is a positivist approach that can be considered according to the cognitivist perspective of knowledge within organizations.
Typically, the positivist approach considers knowledge independently of its links to the action and context of its implementation. As a result, it neglects the role of tacit knowledge. The same phenomenon is analyzed by [ 21 ] who states: The fact that we can possess knowledge that is unspoken is of course a common-place and so is the fact that we must know something yet unspoken before we can express it in words. It has been taken for granted in the philosophical analysis of language in earlier centuries, but modern positivism has tried to ignore it, on the ground that tacit knowledge was not accessible to objective observation p.
In the technological approach, the KM refers to information systems and databases. Emphasis is placed on the quality of the IT system to create and preserve knowledge in order to create value. Most often, the goal is oriented by the notion of knowledge management system KMS. That is, they are IT-based systems developed to support and enhance the organizational processes of knowledge creation, storage, retrieval, transfer, and application. Moreover, although authors are careful to propose a definition to distinguish between data, information, and knowledge concepts, when applications are addressed in terms of computer systems, these three concepts are rapidly declining in terms of data processing: knowledge being only a form of enriched data.
This leads to the characterization and organization of knowledge according to a hierarchical vision of objects. Thus, the authors who join this perspective are mainly interested in the content of the knowledge of the organization. They focus on building and managing knowledge stocks.