5.11 Knowledge Creation

5.11 Knowledge Creation

          According to Nonaka (1994) knowledge creation is about continuous transfer, combination, and conversion of different types of knowledge as users practice, interacts, and learns. He points out that knowledge creation encompasses the processes of individual knowledge enlargement, amplification, crystallization, justification and networking knowledge. The ability to create new knowledge is often at the heart of the organization's competitive advantage. Sometimes this aspect is not treated as part of knowledge management since it overlaps with innovation management (Wellman, 2009).

          Knowledge creation involves generating and discovering new knowledge of any types, and covers the conversion of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and vice versa (Al-Hawamdeh, 2003; Nonaka, 1994; Sena and Shani, 1999).  Cook and Brown (1999) explain knowledge creation is a product of the interplay between knowledge and knowing. The shift in condition between the possession of knowledge and the act of knowing - something that comes about through practice, action, and interaction- is the driving force in the creation of new knowledge. Furthermore, in order for this interplay to be most fruitful, it is important to support unstructured work environments in areas where creativity and innovation are important.

          It has been argued that knowledge sharing and knowledge creation thus go hand in hand. Knowledge creation relates to the creation of new knowledge through practice, collaboration, interaction, and education. Similarly knowledge sharing can also be achieved through practice, collaboration, interaction, and education. Yet, knowledge creation is supported by relevant information and data which can improve decisions and serve as building blocks in the creation of new knowledge.

          It has widely been advocated that the organizations that have the ability to create knowledge on an ongoing basis have the advantage of being dynamic & competitive (Spender, 1996; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka & Toyama, 2007; Mitchell & Boyle, 2010). It means the competence to generate and apply new organizational knowledge is one of the main sources of the competitive advantage (Nonaka, 1994; Spender, 1996; Zollo & Winter, 2002). However, the commitment of top management in the knowledge creation process is very essential. To encourage knowledge creation process the management needs to consider following aspects:

  • To enable and encourage knowledge sharing: On the tactical side, management must understand where and in what forms knowledge exists. They must then provide the right forums for knowledge to be shared. For tacit knowledge this implies a particular emphasis on informal communication, while for explicit knowledge this implies a focus on a variety of IT systems. On the strategic side, management must create/design the right environments, processes, and systems that provide the means and willingness to promote knowledge sharing.
  • To create a suitable work environment: The workplace itself is a microcosm of activities. People spend most of their time per week at their workplaces and are expected to be happy and productive. Therefore, a suitable work environment is now widely recognized as a mechanism through which greater development outcomes can be achieved. A suitable work environment includes the notion of creating interplay between knowledge and knowing. It implies offering relevant training, but most importantly allowing new knowledge to be created through interaction, practice, and experimentation. Botha, et. al. (2008) emphasis to the importance of shared experiences in the knowledge creation process when dealing with tacit knowledge, and the need for an environment where these can be formed. March (1988) discusses how our cultural norms often stifle innovation and new knowledge creation. He advocates for environments where goals can be created through action, where intuition is accepted and valued, and where experience is recognized. Cross, et. al. (2001) argue that in knowledge intensive work, creating an enabling environment helps employees to solve increasingly complex and often ambiguous problems.
  • To provide systems that supports the work process: These can be KM systems that facilitate communication, creation, transfer, and application of knowledge. However, KM systems should ensure that adoption and innovation of business performance outcome occurs in alignment with changing dynamics of the business environment.
  • To provide knowledge workers with timely, relevant information and data: Accurate, relevant, and timely information is a key to good decision making.  Technology based systems help to store, retrieve, organize, and present information and data in an efficient way. Such systems also offer following advantages:
    • Time sensitive information becomes easily available
    • Decision making is improved
    • Potential market advantage can be maintained
    • Data and toolset can be shared
    • Data security becomes possible
    • Cost reduction
    • Knowledge can be shared at organizational level
    • Customer services can be improved