1.2.3 Knowledge

1.2.3 Knowledge

Knowledge extends persons, organizations or a group’s ability to perform appropriate action or make appropriated decisions in a situation in hand. Knowledge is accumulated through the process of learning which is directly related to human understanding about a situation, event or process. Therefore, knowledge is usually defined as a systematic process of collecting information, such that it's intent is to be useful.

            The concept of knowledge is under debate since centuries. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that knowledge is generated by people. Aristotle, for instance, related knowledge with understanding. Plato believed that correct belief can be turned into knowledge through the process of reasoning. Western philosophers considered knowledge as abstract, universal, impartial and rational. Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) defined knowledge as a stand-alone artifact that could be captured in technology and which will be truthful in its essence.

            According to Gamble and Blackwell (2001) "Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, expert insight, and grounded intuition that provides an environment and framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the mind of the knowers. In organizations it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories, but also in organizational routines, practices and norms."

            Knowledge is the lowest level of Bloom's Taxonomy (Bloom, 1956). It forms the base of a pyramid of learning & reasoning; a detailed discussion about Bloom’s Taxonomy is given in forthcoming sections.

Davenport & Prusak (2000) have argued that knowledge is closely linked to doing and implies know-how and understanding. Typically, information deals with who, what, where and when questions while knowledge deals with how and why questions. The knowledge possessed by each individual is a product of his/her experience, and encompasses the norms by which he/she evaluates new inputs from his/her surroundings.  Just to make the concept of knowledge more clear, let’s take Benet & Benet’s  (2004) example of a bite from a red apple; thay  say, “a bite (of information) should be taken, chewed, digested, and acted upon so that it becomes knowledge”. It means knowledge can be generated from information that is organized, synthesized, or summarized to enhance comprehension, awareness, or understanding (Benet & Benet, 2004).

            Ackoff (1999) maintain that knowledge is a deterministic process. When someone "memorizes" information then he/she has amassed knowledge. This knowledge has useful meaning to him/her, but it does not provide for, in and of itself, integration such as would infer further knowledge. He further explained, for example, elementary school children memorize, or amass knowledge of, the "times table". They can tell you that "2 x 2 = 4" because they have amassed that knowledge (it being included in the times table). But when asked what is "1267 x 300", they cannot respond correctly because that entry is not in their times table. To correctly answer such a question requires a true cognitive and analytical ability that is only encompassed in the next level - understanding.