R, Scientometrics, Knowledge Management, and Social Network Analysis

Common Criticisms of Knowledge Management

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Criticisms of Knowledge Management can generally be categorized into 4 groups, namely:

  1. The “Fad” argument. Wilson (2002) describes it as “in large part, a management fad, promulgated mainly by certain consultancy companies, and the probability is that it will fade away like previous fads.”
  2. An overfocus on IT. In a survey of knowledge management papers from 1990-2000, Swan & Scarborough (2002) found that more than 40% were written by and for computer or IS/IT professionals, suggesting that the IT community “has become an important professional patron of KM.” They further suggest that, although a common rationale for KM calls for a variety of  management practices, the patronage of KM by specific professional communities, especially that of IT, has paradoxical effects — promoting its use and success, but also separating it into areas of narrow focus, thus limiting its effectiveness. But, it is also important to note what Gartner Research (Harris, 2006) suggested that while “strictly speaking, KM does not require the use of software” they “believe that KM technology is necessary to a good KM program.”
  3. The questionable validity of the models that underlie KM practice. Many alternative models and classification systems have been proposed for KM, with a major focus evident in the literature on Nonaka’s SECI (Socialization, Externalization, Combination, Internalization) cycle and the conversion of tacit to explicit knowledge, likely driven by the over-focus on IT discussed above. Several critics have pointed out this is, at minimum, an oversimplification. For example, Styhre suggests that “in the knowledge management literature, there is little patience with an organizational resource that cannot be reduced into a number of categories and skills” (Styhre, 2003) and criticizes the codification or knowledge representation approach.
  4. The usefulness and validity of the knowledge itself. Underlying all this is an even more fundamental question — is the knowledge that is being created, captured, shared or recorded actually useful and relevant knowledge? These concerns are especially true of explicit knowledge, frequently captured in IT systems. Is what is being captured “best” practice or just
    “any” practice?

Harris, K. (2006). Knowledge management enables the high performance workplace. Gartner Inc.
Styhre, A. (2003). Understanding knowledge management: Critical and postmodern perspectives. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.
Swan, J., & Scarborough, H. (2002). The paradox of “knowledge management”. Informatik Informatique, 2002(1), 10-13.
Wilson, T. D. (2002). The nonsense of ‘knowledge management’. Information Research, 8(1).

Source: Developing a Model of Next Generation Knowledge Management by Kenneth A. Grant and Candace T. Grant.


Written by Mat

November 18, 2008 at 9:26 am

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