Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Knowledge Maps in the Conversion of Tacit Knowledge as a Competitive Strategy

Academic journal article Journal of Competitiveness Studies

Knowledge Maps in the Conversion of Tacit Knowledge as a Competitive Strategy

Article excerpt


Healthy organizations with the ability to survive in an adverse atmosphere create and use knowledge. As organizations interact with their surroundings, they absorb information, convert it into knowledge and carry out actions based on the combination of this knowledge and their experiences, values and standards. Without knowledge, an organization could not automatically maintain order. It would be incapable of remaining functional. As a result, it is important to interpret knowledge within organizations in an easy way without losing its essence. Companies that wish to codify knowledge must follow four principles: decide what business objectives will be served by codified knowledge; identify knowledge that exists in different forms; evaluate appropriateness and usefulness for codification; identify an adequate means for codification and distribution.


Villarreal (2004) points out that knowledge management means administering the flow of information and getting the correct information to the people who need it in an expeditious and prompt manner. There are two types of knowledge - tacit and explicit. The latter is based on manuals and procedures and the former is knowledge which is acquired only through experience. For tacit knowledge based on workers' experience to always be available to the organization, it is important to implement mechanisms, such as the codification of knowledge, which lead to exteriorization. Therefore, the objective of codification is to make institutional knowledge available to those who need it. Davenport and Prusak (2001) state that "activities based on the knowledge of the development of products and processes that are being converted into the main internal functions and those with the greatest potential for creating a competitive advantage" (sic) (p. 15). Davenport and Prusak (2001) indicate that businesses that wish to successfully codify knowledge must take the following four principles into account: administrators must decide what business objectives will be served by the codified knowledge; to reach these objectives, they must be able to identify knowledge that exists in different forms; they must evaluate the appropriateness and usefulness of the knowledge to be codified; finally, the codifiers must identify an appropriate means for codification and distribution. Once identified, the knowledge must be evaluated regarding its usefulness and importance to the organization and the type of knowledge must be determined. Vast knowledge, intuitive in an advanced expert, is knowledge based on standards and is schematic and explicit. What is done with the knowledge depends on its importance; what should be done depends on its type. This knowledge includes so much accumulated and firmly established learning that it may be impossible to separate its rules from the way in which the individual acts. In other words, it cannot be efficiently codified, at least in writing; a document cannot capture knowledge. For this reason, the codification process of the vastest tacit knowledge in organizations is generally limited to finding a person who has the knowledge, to guiding those seeking it and to encouraging workers to interact.

Knowledge Map

A knowledge map is the design and maintenance tool of the knowledge management program and must go beyond the aptitude for searching the firm's sources of knowledge. It should be a useful tool for defining the strategy of the business. When creating a knowledge map, two important processes must be taken into account: a knowledge audit in order to understand the organization, its strategies, objectives, priorities, how it has evolved and, naturally, information and knowledge needs; an evaluation of what is expected of the people working within the organization regarding their aptitudes in accordance with the environment in which they work and which may constantly be changing. The map should contain: key processes and activities, information and the strategic knowledge necessary to carry these out; who the people, clients and associated internal and external users are and who the information and knowledge suppliers are; and how the people use the information and knowledge. …

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