5.6.1 Explicit Knowledge Sharing

5.6.1 Explicit Knowledge Sharing

           As discussed before, explicit knowledge is documented knowledge that can facilitate action. It is usually available in communicable or transferable formats and expressed in formal shared language like formulas, equations, rules, regulations, and best practices. Studies show that explicit knowledge sharing is stimulated by both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators (Chen, et. al., 2011). Intrinsic motives include knowledge self-efficacy, enjoyment in helping others, etc. Whereas, the extrinsic motives include organizational rewards, reciprocity, reputation, etc.

           Bukowitz and Williams (1999) have defined criteria for successful explicit knowledge sharing:

  • Articulation: The ability of the user to define what he/she needs.
  • Awareness: Awareness of the knowledge available. The user or knowledge provider is encouraged to make use of directories, maps, corporate yellow pages, etc.
  • Access: Access to the knowledge.
  • Guidance: Knowledge managers are often considered key in the build-up of a knowledge sharing system (Davenport & Prusak, 2000; Gamble & Blackwell, 2001). They must help define the areas of expertise of the members of the organization, guide their contributions, assist users, and be responsible for the language being used in publications and other communication material. This is so as to avoid an information/knowledge overload.
  • Completeness: Access to both centrally managed and self-published knowledge is an important aspect of knowledge sharing. The former is often more scrutinized but takes longer to publish and is not as hands-on (and potentially relevant). Self-published information on the other hand runs the risk of not being as reliable.

           IT systems have proved extremely useful in aiding or performing many of these functions. In fact, IT is useful in most stages of the knowledge sharing process. For example, it can be used for content management as well as data and text mining (looking for hidden knowledge, relationships, etc. within data and documents).  Content management systems can used to update, distribute, tag, and otherwise manage content. Content Management Systems also include a wide range of functions, including web content management, document management systems, etc. They may be used to:

  • Import and create documents and multimedia material.
  • Identify key users and their roles.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities to different instances of content categories or types.
  • Define workflow tasks. Content managers can be alerted when changes in content are made.
  • Track and manage multiple versions of content.
  • Publish content to a repository to support access.
  • Increasingly, the repository is a part of the system, incorporating search and retrieval.

           The current Document Management Systems use numerous advanced indexing, searching, and retrieval mechanisms (e.g. using meta-data or content from the actual document) to facilitate explicit knowledge sharing.

           Although, IT is a very useful tool in the management of explicit knowledge, it is equally important that the importance of human should not be undermined. Human as content managers are instrumental in ensuring that the knowledge is relevant, up to date, and presented correctly.  Also, to take full advantage of technology, IT system must be chosen carefully and implemented appropriately.