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Knowledge is considered to be the power house of the new era of knowledge based economy Sohail and Daud, 2009. In addition, Davenport and Prusak defined knowledge as a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provide a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experience and information. The minds of people are embodied with great knowledge, while a significant amount of it is stored in organizational artifacts like documents or repositories (Sohail and Daud, ibid).
Theory of knowledge is classified by Nonaka (1994) and Polanyi (1966) classified knowledge into tacit and explicit knowledge. They also state that Tacit knowledge includes insights, intuitions, and hunches that are hard to express and formalize, hence are difficult to share. Hence, tacit knowledge is likely to be personal and individual based experience.
Unlike Tacit knowledge, according Nonaka (1994), explicit knowledge can be considered as knowledge that has been expressed into words and numbers and it can be formally and systematically shared in the form of data, specifications, manuals, drawings, audio and video tapes, etc.
Development of tacit knowledge through experience takes time and requires considerable investment (McKenzie and van Winkelen, 2004). Characteristics of tacit and explicit knowledge are summarized in the Table 2.1 below.
Table 2.1: Characteristics of Tacit and Explicit Knowledge by Hislop (2005)
Tacit knowledge Explicit knowledge
ï‚·ï€ Personal ï‚·ï€ Impersonal
ï‚·ï€ Difficult to share ï‚·ï€ Easy to share
ï‚·ï€ Subjective ï‚·ï€ Objective
ï‚·ï€ Context specific ï‚·ï€ Context independent
ï‚·ï€ Difficult to convey in a ï‚·ï€ Easily codifiable
According to Marquardt (1996, â€¦), "Knowledge is the food of the organization. It is the nutrient that enables the organization to grow. Individuals can come and go, but valuable knowledge cannot be lost or the organization staves to death".
2.3 Knowledge Management
To make the organization successful, it is very important to manage their knowledge well. In the early industrial age, organizations improved their effectiveness, efficiency and their competitive edge by automating physical labor and reducing redundancy (Gupta et al., 2000). However, in this knowledge explosion era, organizations tend to face lots of difficulty to survive without proper knowledge management initiatives.
Several definitions of knowledge have been proposed by many researchers such as Botkin (1999) who defined knowledge management as the process of capturing, sharing and leveraging the expertise of a company in order to improve the decision making so as to achieve organizational goals. Also Nonaka and Konno (1998) defined Knowledge Management as a method for simplifying and improving the process of sharing, distributing, creating and understanding company knowledge.
In addition, the five key benefits of knowledge management as discovered by Chase (1997) are: improvement in making decision, increase responsiveness to customers, improvement in efficiency (people and operations), improvement in product/ services and improvement in innovation.
Sharing information and knowledge among employees is an essential element in the process of knowledge management. The knowledge management processes include discovery, capture, sharing and application in which there are seven sub processes. Of the seven, Nonaka (1994) identified four ways of managing knowledge: socialization, externalization, internalization and combination. The remaining three sub processes (exchange, direction and routines) were proposed by Grant (1996a, 1996b) and Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998). Figure 2.1 shows the knowledge management processes by Fernandez et al. (2004).
Figure 2.1: Knowledge Management Processes
2.4 Knowledge Sharing
"Knowledge is one of the few assets that grows- also usually exponentially when shared" (Quinn, 1996). Sharratt and Usoro (2003) defined sharing as a process whereby a resource is given by one party and received by another, while Fernandez et al. ( 2004), defined knowledge sharing as a process through which explicit or tacit knowledge is communicated to other individuals. Knowledge sharing comprise of a set of shared understanding, which is related to providing employees with access to relevant information through knowledge networks within organizations (Hogel et al., 2003). Hence, knowledge sharing is considered as central to the success of all knowledge management strategies (Chaudry, 2005).
Knowledge sharing is part of everyday organizational life; it recognizes the nature of people's knowledge that was gained from experience (Awad and Ghaziri, 2004). According to Christensen (2007), the aim of knowledge sharing is either to create new knowledge by integrating existing knowledge in another way or to become better at exploiting it. Knowledge sharing helps businesses create opportunities to maximize and improve their abilities to compete with others.
It is very important to develop a knowledge sharing culture where everyone is motivated enough to share their knowledge through social and electronic networks. Knowledge sharing can be informal or formal, whereby formal knowledge sharing is more common in organizational staff (Naaranoja and Sandhu, 2007). Successful implementations of knowledge sharing processes can assist organizations in improving their innovation capability.
The following Figure 2.4, as proposed by Lin (2007), comprises of three dimensions; enablers, processes and outcomes of knowledge sharing. This model was constructed by following the general framework of strategic decision process as proposed by Rajagopalan et al. (1993). The model demonstrates that different influences such as individual factors, organizational factors and technology factors enable the knowledge sharing process.
When the knowledge sharing process is successful, the firm's innovation capability is higher and this results in better performance and competition with others in remaining ahead of the field.
Figure 2.4: General framework for studying knowledge sharing by Lin (2007)
2.4.1 The Importance of Knowledge Sharing
2.5 Previous Research
2.6 The Relationship between IT and Knowledge Sharing
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