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Volume 10 / Issue 3

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-010-03-0162


Managing the KM Trade-Off: Knowledge Centralization versus Distribution

Matteo Bonifacio (Department of Information Technology, University of Trento, Italy)

Pierfranco Camussone (Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italy)

Chiara Zini (Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italy)

Abstract: KM is more an archipelago of theories and practices rather than a monolithic approach. We propose a conceptual map that organizes some major approaches to KM according to their assumptions on the nature of knowledge. The paper introduces the two major views on knowledge -objectivist, subjectivist - and explodes each of them into two major approaches to KM: knowledge as a market, and knowledge as intellectual capital (the objectivistic perspective), knowledge as mental models, and knowledge as practice (the subjectivist perspective). We argue that the dichotomy between objective and subjective approaches is intrinsic to KM within complex organizations, as each side of the dichotomy responds to different, and often conflicting, needs: on the one hand, the need to maximize the value of knowledge through its replication, on the other hand, the need to keep knowledge appropriate to an increasingly complex and changing environment. Moreover, as a proposal for a deeper discussion, such trade-off will be suggested as the origin of other relevant KM related trade-offs that will be listed. Managing these trade-offs will be proposed as a main challenge of KM.

Keywords: bounded rationality, communities of practice, constructivism, intellectual capital, knowledge markets, mental models, organizational trade-offs, retrospective rationality

Categories: A.0, A.1, H.1.0, H.1.1