J.UCS Special Issue: I-KNOW '02
People-Oriented Knowledge Management
Klaus Tochtermann (Know-Center, Graz, Austria)
Hermann Maurer (Graz University of Technology, Austria and Know-Center,
Abstract: It is widely recognized that the transitions to an
information society and a global knowledge economy will be the most important
social and economic changes of the next decade. The global knowledge economy
with its high innovation speed and an increasing demand of knowledge intensive
products and services calls for new management tools and methods. Therefore,
efficient management of knowledge has become imperative for almost all
types of organizations.
Knowledge management can be addressed from two different perspectives.
The first perspective places the emphasis on information technologies as
enabling technologies. The second perspective is more people-oriented as
it focuses on people and organizations. The difference between these two
perspectives is the level at which knowledge management is applied.
The objective of technology-oriented knowledge management is to support
knowledge workers at an operational level. That is, information technologies
are used to provide the knowledge somebody needs to perform a specific
task as well and as efficiently as possible. Often, this requires a careful
and smooth integration of knowledge management tools with business process
In people-oriented knowledge management, the focus is on the people
and the organization rather than on the technology. People-oriented knowledge
management tries to find answers to questions such as "How can we
improve our communication culture?", "How can we manage our human
capital more efficiently?", "What methods and incentives exist
to foster knowledge sharing and transfer in our organization?". In
addition, impact assessment studies are part of people-oriented knowledge
management. Typical questions in this context are "How do information
technologies change an organization's communication culture?", "How
do the employees of an organization get along with the new tools and the
possibilities they offer?".
The objective of this special issue is to provide an overview of
the mainstream activities in people-oriented knowledge
management. Nine international experts in knowledge management present
their views on the topic. They do not only give answers to the above
questions. Instead, they supplement them with their own questions to
the research community, hoping to provide a further important stimulus
to this fascinating and still so unexplored research field. In detail,
the papers address the following topics:
Johann Günther from Krems University (Austria) argues in his paper
"The New Mobility of Our Society Caused by Telecommunications"
that the ubiquity of information and telecommunication technologies caused
the change of the industrial society into the information society. One
impact of this change is that tourism will develop to be one of the most
promising economic fields in the knowledge society.
In her contribution "The Knowledge-Attention Gap: Do we Underestimate
the Problem of Information Overload?" Ursula Schneider from Graz
University (Austria) provides solutions to overcome the gap between the
increasing amount of new technical knowledge and the little use of existing
"Knowledge on Demand: Knowledge and Expert Discovery"
is the title Mark Maybury from MITRE Corporation (USA) chooses to outline
his experience with intelligent tools that support the automated discovery
of distributed experts and communities of expertise, the automated detection
and tracking of emerging topics from unstructured multimedia data, and
capabilities to increase organizational awareness.
"Ontology-based Skills Management: Goals, Opportunities and
Challenges" by Jacqueline Reich, Peter Brockhausen, Thorsten Lau
and Ulrich Reimer reports on the skills management system developed at
Swiss Life to support skills gap analysis and professional development.
Skills management has a lot to do with management and monitoring of
human capital. Andrea Kasztler and Karl-Heinz Leitner from ARC Seibersdorf
Research (Austria) describe in their contribution "Bibliometric
Analysis and Visualisation of Intellectual Capital" how a visualization
tool can help analyze the human capital data of an organization.
Shanta Liyanage from The University of Auckland (New Zealand)
offers in his paper "Knowledge and Intellectual Management
Processes: Grounding Knowledge of Understanding the Organisational
Learning" an interpretative perspective on knowledge and
intellectual capital development. Based on a study conducted across
140 companies he shows how learning mechanisms can play an important
role in organizational knowledge development.
In their paper "Fostering Knowledge Communication: Concept and
Implementation", Rüdiger Reinhardt and Beate Stattkus from University
of St. Gallen (Switzerland) describe an approach for the transfer of
knowledge between a leaving employee and a successor. The key idea of
this approach is to promote a mentorship or partnership philosophy.
The last two papers of this special issue deal with knowledge transfer
and knowledge sharing in specific domains. The paper "Knowledge
Transfer in Recycling Networks: Fostering Sustainable Development"
by Elisabeth Milchrahm and Arnulf Hasler from Graz University (Austria)
highlight how knowledge transfer can be institutionalized in recycling
The authors argue that the factor "mutual trust" as an important
prerequisite in this context.
Anita Komlodi from UMBS Baltimore (USA) entitled her contribution "The
Role of Interaction Histories in Mental Model Building and Knowledge Sharing
in the Legal Domain". Her focus is on the role of interaction
histories and history-based interface tools in supporting mental model
development of legal information seekers of a topical area and sharing
this information with other users.
With this selection the readers will get a very good and comprehensive
overview of the state-of-the art in people-oriented knowledge management.
We hope that the readers will enjoy these papers as much as we did !
Klaus Tochtermann and Hermann Maurer
Know-Center and Graz University of Technology
Graz, May 2002