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Challenges to KM/KT Implementation

Key research tends to point to a number of specific factors that inhibit firms from successful implementation of KM/KT initiatives (Cortada, 2001). The top three key factors are: 1) corporate culture that does not value knowledge or facilitate its use in daily activities; 2) the failure of top management to proactively support KM initiatives; and 3) a lack of shared understanding of a KM business strategy. Below is a list of other common KM errors25:

  • Not developing a working definition of knowledge. Substantial amount of research indicates that it does not matter what definition is chosen, what matters is that everyone is working under the same definition with the same understanding of KM within their organization;
  • Emphasizing knowledge ‘stock’ to the detriment of knowledge flow;
  • Viewing knowledge as existing predominantly outside the heads of individuals. This point reflects the views of many practitioners and researchers who argue for sharing knowledge with employees at multiple levels of the enterprise. The research indicates that knowledge is always localized (in the heads of individuals or small groups who work in close proximity);
  • Not understanding that the most fundamental purpose of managing knowledge is to create a shared context;
  • Paying little heed to the role and importance of tacit knowledge;
  • Disentangling knowledge from its current uses;
  • Downplaying thinking and reasoning . Knowledge development and breakthrough in insights requires some form of reasoning - it is through reasoning that improvements can be made;
  • Focusing on the past and present and not the future;
  • Failing to recognize the importance of experimentation;
  • Substituting technological contact for human interface (this view is increasingly gaining importance among KM/KT experts and practitioners). Despite all the plethora of communication gadgets and tools, many experts argue that people conversing (in person or virtually) is the optimal method for knowledge transfer; and
  • Seeking to develop direct measures of knowledge. The ability to measure the impact of KM/KT supports the business case for KM/KT activities and allows a company to assess its intellectual and intangible assets as a resource like any other organizational resource. When knowledge is viewed in this light, then firms will give more value to the KM/KT concept, particularly when return of investment (ROI) can be demonstrated.

25 - Fahey, L., and Prusak, L., "The Eleven Deadliest Sins of Knowledge Management", Knowledge Management MIS 580, Texas A&M University, 2008