TO – Knowledge Management

What does knowledge management mean?
How to disseminate and leverage knowledge in order to enhance organizational performance
What are the 4 main terms in knowledge management?
1.) Organizational Learning (Process and theory)
2.) Organizational knowledge (theory and content)
3.) knowledge management (practice and content)
4.) The learning organization (practice and process)
What does organizational learning mean?
rather academic study of learning process of and within organizations
What does The learning organization mean?
– Ideal organization that has the capacity to adapt knowledge effectively and hence to prosper
– creates, acquires, interprets, transfers and retains knowledge
– actively modifies its behavior based on new insights
– may be the only source of sustainable competitive advantage
– in todays rapidly changing environments, organizations have to learn fast
– barriers are: theoretical discussion, concept aimed at CEO not on local leaders, lack of standards and tools
What does organizational knowledge mean?
try to understand and conceptualize the nature of knowledge in an organization
What types of knowledge do exist?
1.) tacit knowledge
2.) explicit knowledge
What is explicit knowledge?
– formal and systematic
easy to communicate and share (codified as manuals, product specifications etc.)
– can be seen
What is tacit knowledge?
-potential source of sustainable competitive advantage, hard to imitate
– highly personal and hard to formalize
– difficult to communicate
– connected to individuals commitment
– connected to routines/processes
– technical skills and cognitive restrictions (master craftsmen, granted knowledge)
– cannot be seen
What is the SECI Matrix?
– Visual illustration how to manage the process of transforming one type of knowledge into another
– comprises: Socialization (TK to EK), Externalization (TK to TK), Internalization (EK to TK), Combination (EK to EK)
– spiral of increasing and accumulating knowledge
– critical for success are internalization and externalization
What are 2 different kinds if a knowledge management system in consultancies?
1.) People-to-document
2.) Person-to-person
Name the factors which have an impact on the effectiveness of knowledge management
1.) Skills (A- and T-Shaped)
2.) Shared Mental Models (SMM)
3.) Routines
4.) Richness of personal interaction (RPI)
5.) Information Redundancies
6.) Impact of Incentives on knowledge Transfer
7.) Impact of IT on knowledge transfer
What kinds of skills do exist?
1.) T-Shaped: so called knowledge engineers
– have expertise in technical areas (vertical stroke) AND know how to interact with other functions (horizontal stroke)
Implication for HRM: screen team members for T-Shaped Skills and support development of T-Shaped skills (e.g. reduce pressure in daily operations, cross-functional teams for some time, then back in line)

2.) A-Shaped skills:
– people who learned two disciplines (e.g. engineers with MBA)
they can combine knowledge sets and create synergies
– have visions to manage technical tradeoffs
– they are more effective in knowledge development tasks
– how to acquire A-Shaped Skills? –> on-the-job-experience or two in a box leadership style

What is to be understood under Mental Models?
team members have:
– shared prior knowledge
unconcsious assumption how the world works
– common language
– SMM facilitate internalization and externalization
– However DANGER of groupthink when there is a high degree of SMM
What are characteristics of routines?
– set of regular and predictable patterns of organizational behavior
– the more routines, the more successful team members/organizations are
– use/include experienced members to establish routines
– too many routines can lead to groupthink (due to familiarity)
What are the characteristics of RPI?
– RPI consists of face-to-face, frequent and informal communication (important for creation of TK)
– dynamism and flexibility of direct communication lead to better outcomes than less direct forms
– physical proximity facilitates frequency of communication
– informal networks (e.g. Communities of Practice) are more significant than formal channels
What are communities of practice (CoP)?
– informal networks to create and transfer knowledge
– informal groups of people with SMM
– purpose: build and exchange knowledge
– self organized
– direct communication channels
– need management support
– CoPs enhance knowledge transfer
Explain the impact factor information redundancy
– storing important information at a central place (DB) makes knowledge available to everyone in the company
– IT-solutions in many companies
– contribution should be valued by content not by hierarchy
– redundancy implies fast multiplication of knowledge
– suitable for explicit knowledge
– critical success factors are incentivation and corporate culture!
What is the impact of incentives on knowledge transfer?
– Different knowledge management systems require different incentive systems ( codification model vs personalization model)
– transfer of knowledge requires intrinsic motivation
– key question: what is the value of knowledge?! Difficult to assess
What is the impact of IT on knowledge transfer?
– different knowledge management systems require different IT-solutions (Codification model (heavy investments, large strong, sophisticated systems) vs personalization model (establish yellow pages system))
– effective use of IT depends on degree of tacitness
– usually overfocus on IT systems as knowledge management tool
– tool has to be perceived as useful –> leads to success
Success factors of knowledge management – Industry experience
– Link to economic value
– technical and organizational infrastructure
– knowledge friendly culture
– motivation and Incentives
– Senior Management Support
– multiple channels for knowledge transfer
What are the tasks of HRM in R&D?
1.) store and retain knowledge of Key Inventors!
2.) establish efficient incentive systems towards KI
3.) Establish Kis as TGKs
4.) Keep KIs during acquisitions
5.) Acquire KIs (= acquisition of technological knowledge)
How to keep KI knowledge?
– Transfer as much TK as possible (e.g. from KI to talents)
–> Codify TK or socialize (KI–> talents)
What are important forms of incentives in R&D?
– Freedom for Creativity
– financial rewards
– other awards
– career opportunities
What are requirements of effective incentive systems?
1.) Transparency
2.) performance based
3.) flexibility
What is the Cafeteria model?
– employees can choose from different incentives
– firm is able to find out the preferred incentive of an employee
– Elements of CM have to be known to all employees (transparency as basis for acceptance among employees)
– Incentives have to be based on transparent performance indicators
What is the dual ladder system?
– employees have different career aspirations (technical interest vs managerial responsibility)
– Dual ladder system can ensure both orientations
– career along 2 different hierarchies possible (managerial progression OR professional advancement)
– equal status and payment for equivalent levels
– objective: retain technical talents
How to identify TGKs?
– they have high patent performance
– they signal technological competence
– HRM must facilitate external visibility of KI
What are the 3 building blocks of the learning organization?
1.) Block 1: Supportive learning environment (psychological safety, openness to new ideas)
2.) Block 2: Concrete learning processes and practices (aims at standardization and systemization)
3.) Block 3: Leadership that reinforces learning (learning organization can never only be enabled by top management – all levels are needed!)
What are the 4 principles to cultivate Learning Organizations?
1.) Leadership alone is not sufficient
2.) Organizations are not monolithic (differences between functions)
3.) Comparative performance is critical
4.) Learning is multidimensional