Interest in Knowledge Management (herein KM) has seen exponential growth over the last 2-3 years, with articles quadrupling in numbers during this period ( Scarbrough et al., 1999). KM is broadly defined as any process or practice that involves ‘acquiring, creating, capturing, storing, sharing and using knowledge to enhance organizational performance’ (Bassi, 1997). Whilst this definition suggests a variety of practices and processes, research and practice in KM have been dominated by a focus on using Information and Communications Technologies ( ICTs) to store (data warehouses), search (data mining) and transfer (intranets, groupware) knowledge within and across organizations (Scarbrough et al, 1999). Behind much of this work lies a ‘cognitive’ model of knowledge as something that exists inside peoples’ heads, which can be extracted, codified, and made available more widely. Great claims (hype) are made then as to the performance improvements that can be achieved through the use of sophisticated IT-based tools for knowledge capture, storage and sharing. The assumption underpinning these claims is that IT can improve the stocks and flows of knowledge within a firm. On the other hand, others note that these claims typically overestimate the utility of new ITs for delivering organizational performance improvements (fiction), with evidence suggesting no direct correlation between IT investment and business performance ( Malhotra, 1998; Strassmann, 1998). This panel will explore and explain the hype, fiction and reality that shrouds KM. The panel will suggest, not that IT or IT professionals have no role to play, but that this role needs to be developed through a more reflective and contingent approach that makes it possible to align the use of IT-based KM tools with social and organizational structures and processes.
Swan, Jacky, "Panel: Knowledge Management: Hype, Fiction and Reality" (2000). ECIS 2000 Proceedings. 184.