5.4 Knowledge Capturing and Codification

5.4 Knowledge Capturing and Codification

          Knowledge capturing and codification is an important process in knowledge management. Several approaches have been used for capturing and codifying available knowledge in knowledge management systems.  In general, capturing knowledge means obtaining knowledge from various sources available in different forms. Knowledge capturing focuses on acquiring knowledge whereas codification focuses on organizing knowledge into explicit form which can be used for specific purposes (Holsapple & Joshi, 1999; Al-Hawamdeh, 2003; Dalkir, 2005). Balasubramanian, et.al. (1999) consider knowledge capturing as a process of collecting and interpreting information from both internal and external sources, and organized into explicit forms for utilization.

          In literature many knowledge capturing techniques have been discussed including on-site observation, brainstorming, think-aloud, consensus decision making, repertory grid, nominal group technique, delphi method, concept mapping, blackboard training, apprenticeships, lesson-learned programs, environmental scanning and licensing (Wiig, 1999).

          Knowledge capturing approaches can be divided into three broader groups:

  • Practical approachadvocates that knowledge capturing occurs through work processes, licensing (Wiig, 1999) and acquiring experts who possess particular knowledge (Gupta, Sharma and Hsu, 2004).
  • Educational approach concentrates on training programs, apprenticeships, lessons learned, environmental scan (Wiig, 1999) and document study (Garza & Ibbs, 1992).
  • Social approachmainly focuses discussion, interaction of individuals and networking. Social connections and social relations provide information channels that allow members of societies to transfer and capture knowledge (Coleman, 1988).

          Ryu, et.al. (2005) suggest that an organization can capture knowledge through three methods: learning by doing, learning from others and learning by investment. Learning by doing and learning by investment is educational approach and concerns with education programs. Whereas, learning from others is a social approach and relates to organizational culture and communities of practice. Garza & Ibbs (1992) identify three effective methods of capturing knowledge: (i) document review, (ii) observation and iii) expert interviews. Similarly, Hylko (2005; 2006) suggests for discussion forums which is again an example of social approach.

          The term ‘knowledge engineering’ has also been used for capturing knowledge.  Knowledge engineering (KE) was defined by Edward Feigenbaum and Pamela McCorduck (1983) for integrating knowledge into computer systems in order to solve complex problems which normally requiring a high level of human expertise. 

          Knowledge engineering can be viewed from two perspectives: narrow and broad.  According to the narrow perspective, knowledge engineering deals with knowledge acquisition, representation, validation, inferencing, explanation, and maintenance. Alternatively, according to the broad perspective, the term describes the entire process of developing and maintaining intelligent systems. Similarly, terms like machine learning, natural language processing, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, social networks and the semantic web have also been used for knowledge capturing and codification. 

          Some other authors (Wiig 1999; Liebowitz, 2001; Dalkir 2005) have argued that knowledge acquisition techniques used for computer programs can be applied to other domains for knowledge capturing and codification. In this technique knowledge is captured from experts, including people and other sources, which is then stored or coded in knowledge-based systems according to a rule-based approach (Durkin, 1994). Yet some argue that knowledge engineering techniques may not be suitable for knowledge management as it requires a holistic approach which also relies on traditional methods such as observation, learning from experts, etc.