Organizations have recognized that knowledge constitutes a valuable intangible asset for creating and sustaining competitive advantages. Knowledge sharing activities are generally supported by knowledge management systems. However, technology constitutes only one of the many factors that affect the sharing of knowledge in organizations, such as organizational culture, trust, and incentives. The sharing of knowledge constitutes a major challenge in the field of knowledge management because some employees tend to resist sharing their knowledge with the rest of the organization.
Although knowledge is commonly treated as an object, Snowden has argued it is more appropriate to teach it as both a flow and a thing. Knowledge as a flow can be related to the concept of tacit knowledge, discovered by Ludwik Hirszfeld which was later further explicated by Nonaka. While the difficulty of sharing knowledge is in transferring knowledge from one entity to another, it may prove profitable for organizations to acknowledge the difficulties of knowledge transfer and its paradoxicality, adopting new knowledge management strategies accordingly.
Explicit Knowledge Sharing
- Articulation: the knowledge provider can describe the information.
- Awareness: the recipient must be aware that knowledge is available.
- Access: the knowledge recipient can access the knowledge provider.
- Guidance: the body of knowledge must be defined and differentiated into different topics or domains so as to avoid information overload, and to provide easy access to appropriate material. Knowledge managers are often considered key figures in the creation of an effective knowledge sharing system.
- Completeness: the holistic approach to knowledge sharing in the form of both centrally managed and self-published knowledge.
Tacit Knowledge Sharing
Tacit knowledge sharing occurs through different types of socialization. Although tacit knowledge is difficult to identify and codify, relevant factors that influence tacit knowledge sharing include:
- Informal networks such as daily interactions between people within a defined environment (work, school, home, etc.). These networks span hierarchies and functions.
- The provision of space where people can engage in unstructured or unmonitored discussions, thereby fostering informal networks.
- Unstructured, less-structured or experimental work practices that encourage creative problem solving, and the development of social networks.
Embedded Knowledge Sharing
Embedded knowledge sharing occurs when knowledge is shared through clearly delineated products, processes, routines, etc. This knowledge can be shared in different ways, such as:
- Scenario planning and debriefing: providing a structured space to create possible scenarios, followed by a discussion of what happened, and how it could have been different.
- Management training.
- Knowledge transfer: deliberately integrating systems, processes, routines, etc., to combine and share relevant knowledge.
Importance of Knowledge Sharing in Organizations
Knowledge constitutes a valuable, intangible asset for creating and sustaining competitive advantages within organizations. Several factors affect knowledge sharing in organizations, such as organizational culture, trust, incentives, and technology. Knowledge sharing activities are commonly supported by knowledge management systems, a form of information technology (IT) that facilitates and organizes information within a company or organization.
Challenges in Knowledge Sharing
Knowledge sharing can sometimes constitute a major challenge in the field of knowledge management. The difficulty of knowledge sharing resides in the transference of knowledge from one entity to another. Some employees tend to resist sharing their knowledge because of the notion that knowledge is property; ownership, therefore, becomes very important. In order to counteract this, individuals must be reassured that they will receive some type of incentive for what they create. However, Dalkir (2005) demonstrated that individuals are most commonly rewarded for what they know, not what they share. Negative consequences, such as isolation and resistance to ideas, occur when knowledge sharing is impeded. To promote knowledge sharing and remove knowledge sharing obstacles, the organizational culture of an entity should encourage discovery and innovation.
The Role of IT Systems in Knowledge Sharing
IT systems are common tools that help facilitate knowledge sharing and knowledge management. The main role of IT systems is to help people share knowledge through common platforms and electronic storage to help make access simpler, encouraging economic reuse of knowledge. IT systems can provide codification, personalization, electronic repositories for information and can help people locate each other to communicate directly. With appropriate training and education, IT systems can make it easier for organizations to acquire, store or disseminate knowledge.
- Collective intelligence
- Community of practice
- Knowledge management
- Knowledge market
- Knowledge transfer
- Knowledge fairs
- Knowledge networking
- Knowledge of ethical hacking
- Knowledge of science
- Tacit knowledge
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- Toolkit with information about knowledge sharing tools and methods - http://www.kstoolkit.org/
- Knowledge Sharing for Development E-learning Course - from the FAO of the United Nations