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To provide a technological base for managing knowledge, a consortium of U. companies started the Initiative for Managing Knowledge Assets in 1989.Knowledge management-related articles began appearing in journals like Sloan Management Review, Organizational Science, Harvard Business Review, and others, and the first books on organizational learning and knowledge management were published (for example, Senge’s The Fifth Discipline and Sakaiya’s The Knowledge Value Revolution).
Chris Argyris, Christoper Bartlett, and Dorothy Leonard-Barton of Harvard Business School have examined various facets of managing knowledge.
In fact, Leonard-Barton’s well-known case study of Chaparral Steel, a company which has had an effective knowledge management strategy in place since the mid-1970s, inspired the research documented in her Wellsprings of Knowledge — Building and Sustaining Sources of Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 1995).
The 1980s also saw the development of systems for managing knowledge that relied on work done in artificial intelligence and expert systems, giving us such concepts as "knowledge acquisition," "knowledge engineering," "knowledge-base systems, and computer-based ontologies.
The phrase "knowledge management" entered the lexicon in earnest.
Everett Rogers’ work at Stanford in the diffusion of innovation and Thomas Allen’s research at MIT in information and technology transfer, both of which date from the late 1970s, have also contributed to our understanding of how knowledge is produced, used, and diffused within organizations.
By the mid-1980s, the importance of knowledge (and its expression in professional competence) as a competitive asset was apparent, even though classical economic theory ignores (the value of) knowledge as an asset and most organizations still lack strategies and methods for managing it.In 1994 the IKMN published the results of a knowledge management survey conducted among European firms, and the European Community began offering funding for KM-related projects through the ESPRIT program in 1995.Knowledge management, which appears to offer a highly desirable alternative to failed TQM and business process re-engineering initiatives, has become big business for such major international consulting firms as Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, and Booz-Allen & Hamilton.Even so, few have actually begun to actively manage that asset on a broad scale.Thus far, they have addressed the issue at a philosophical or a technological level, with little discussion about how knowledge can be used more effectively on a daily basis.A number of management theorists have contributed to the evolution of knowledge management, among them such notables as Peter Drucker, Paul Strassmann, and Peter Senge in the United States.Drucker and Strassmann have stressed the growing importance of information and explicit knowledge as organizational resources, and Senge has focused on the "learning organization," a cultural dimension of managing knowledge.Doug Engelbart’s Augment (for "augmenting human intelligence"), which was introduced in 1978, was an early hypertext/groupware application capable of interfacing with other applications and systems.Rob Acksyn’s and Don Mc Cracken’s Knowledge Management System (KMS), an open distributed hypermedia tool, is another notable example and one that predates the World Wide Web by a decade.In addition, a number of professional organizations interested in such related areas as benchmarking, best practices, risk management, and change management are exploring the relationship of knowledge management to their areas of special expertise (for example, the APQC [American Productivity and Quality Council] and ASIS [American Society for Information Science]).We do not know one millionth of one percent about anything,” said Thomas Alva Edison who probably wouldn’t have appreciated Professor Davenport’s observation that the most valuable asset companies have is the knowledge of their employees.