Data, Information, and Organizational Knowledge
The increasingly competitive business landscape in the market place needs organizations innovatively manages their organizational knowledge in a manner that is cognisant with their organizational objectives. For the optimal overall business strategy, organizations have a need to effectively and efficiently create, locate, capture, and share their organizational knowledge. This implies that the created knowledge should be preserved for future use and easy distribution. Data can be considered as facts or observations about a particular phenomenon, which might not be meaningful and useful since it has not been processed. There are various types of data such as scientific, analytic, attitudinal, and socio-economic data, which could be primary (raw data) or secondary, and can be found from both external and internal sources.
According to Engeström, (1987), information can be referred to as data that have already been processed through purposeful analysis. The information has more subjective values than raw data since it is associated with a particular view point or theory. The basis of data and information being applied to beliefs, values, context, and attitudes creates knowledge. Different people within an organization may hold a variety of knowledge over the same topic or subject, and this is a form of organizational knowledge creation. Knowledge can be defined as what a group of individuals has come to believe and value based upon meaningful collection of information through experience, inference, or communication. Knowledge can be stored and manipulated; therefore, organization requires that they manage knowledge in terms of as an object and as a process.
Every business organization or company deals with information systems or subsystems either through a lesser or greater extent. Information systems enable organizations to handle information by collecting data and interpreting it. This also includes availing it to the workers via a distribution system. This information could be marketing information, accounting results, company reports, cost projections, which needs to be manipulated into useful knowledge to support decision making processes.
Information systems comprise of software, hardware, data, techniques, and people which are designed to create information that supports knowledge creation that is in line with the organisation’s short term and long term goals. The types of information systems that can be found in business organizations are management information systems, transaction processing systems, and decision support systems.
Organisational knowledge management involves efforts in information seeking, information sharing, tasks undertaken in the work place, collaboration, and construction of organisational memory. A knowledge management structure comprises of repositories of explicit knowledge, refineries for accumulating, managing, transferring, refining, and distributing the knowledge. Knowledge management is organisational processes and strategies that are designed through information technology management processes together with strategies that significantly enhance the organisation’s ability to apply the knowledge resources in solving organisation problems (Krishna, &Schrader, 2002).
A major problem with knowledge management systems in over indulgence and over-emphasis on information technology, this occurs at the expense of creatively designed knowledge management roles and responsibilities. The organization’s knowledge management architecture in many organisations consists of knowledge or expertise centers, organisational learning, knowledge mapping, and integrating the company’s technological resources. Organisational knowledge management must address the cross-functional and cross organizational processes that enable knowledge to be created, shared, and applied.
Knowledge Based Theory
The knowledge based theory of the firm looks at knowledge as the ultimate significant resource strategy of the firm. Knowledge based resources cannot be replicated and socially complex, heterogeneous knowledge and capabilities among firms are the main factors that determine sustaining a competitive edge coupled with superior performance. Companies such as Honda, canon, and 3M are some real-world examples that use organisational knowledge creation. The knowledge in organisations is integrated through multiple entities such as organizational culture and identity, documents, routines, policies, systems, and people. This type of resource based view in these firms considers the importance of knowledge in attaining a competitive edge, these systems considers knowledge as a generic resource (Bartlett, & Toms, 2005).
Knowledge-based theory used by these firms interprets the intelligence of the firms as not coming from the chief executive officer, but comes from gathering of any knowledge by individual employees. These firms apply the theory to enhance their ability to adapt to the turbulent environment through knowledge creation. Knowledge creation forms the basis of innovation and the company’s capabilities. The flow of information within the organisation is such that all employees can obtain access to current information on the market, technology, and competitors. The firms emphasize enhancing mobilization of tacit knowledge, so that coordination of knowledge flow and coherent knowledge creation unit is maintained. The general goals of the knowledge creating firms are to construct new theories for organisational knowledge creation, provisions of reasons why certain companies are leading in innovation, and developing universal management models. The organisational knowledge comprises of the modes of knowledge conversion in socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization (Chatman, &Pendleton, 1995).
The data, information, and organizational knowledge management must be accurate, time-bound, ensures security and confidentiality, and must possess integrity and reliability. The collection and transfer of organisational knowledge is relevant from the workers to the customers, suppliers, partners, and collaborators. In order for organizations to maintain a competitive advantage and leader in innovation, they have to build and manage their knowledge assets. This is useful for strategic planning.
Bartlett, J. & Toms, E. (2005). Developing a protocol for bioinformatics analysis: an integrated information behaviour and task analysis approach. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 56(5), 469-482
Chatman, E. &Pendleton, V. (1995). Knowledge gap, information-seeking and the poor. Reference Librarian, (49/50), 135-145
Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: an activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.
Krishna, A. &Schrader, E. (2002). The social capital assessment tool. In C. Grootaert &T. v. Bastelaer (Eds.), Understanding and measuring social capital (pp. 17-44). Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Developments.
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