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The Knowledge Context, Organizations and Managing People

Organizational knowledge, sometimes referred to as the intellectual capital (or the 'IQ') of the enterprise, is the engine of innovation, improvements in service delivery and business processes in modern for-profit and not-for-profit corporations.  In turn, intellectual capital rests on the levels of investment and complementarity of three, more basic, forms of capital.  These are human capital,social capital and organizational capital.  Human capital is what individual employees know and can do.  Social capital has been defined as the goodwill displayed by stakeholders towards an organization and the trust they place in it though internal bonding ties or corporate identity and external network ties with other individuals and organizations.  Organizational capital is different from the other two because it is neither the property of individuals nor groups; instead it the institutionalized knowledge and codified experiences residing within organizations in the form of databases, filing cabinets, patents, manuals,  organizational structures, routines and processes. 

This chapter explores the links between these different forms of capital, and how people management and HR are core activities in creating, transferring and exploiting knowledge.  It also focuses on the problems of managing so-called 'knowledge' workers, who are the most unique and valuable employees in modern organizations but who are also among the most difficult to manage. 

Listen to the Gurus

Watch the video of John Seely Brown talking about a social constructivist approach to learning and the role of Web 2.0 in enhancing organizational learning - re-learning learning.  You can also read about his work in the text and download some articles related to the video from his website.  Fast forward 19 minutes to get to his talk.

Key Issues

Listen to the second part of this BBC programme on knowledge management

Additional Reading

One of the best books written on certain aspects of knowledge management and learning is by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid on the Social Life of Information.  It has an excellent website worth visiting.  

Another excellent website, which is full of links to books, cases and exercises, is the one by Etienne Wenger.  His work on communities of practice is extremely popular with practitioners.

A good report by McKinsey's on the benefits of developing informal employee networks for innovation.

Finally, another site worth visting is Tom Davenport's.  He has written extensively on knowledge management and knowledge workers.  His book, 'Thinking for a Living: How to get the best out of knowledge workers' is certainly worth a read.

The innovation agenda and organizational learning are central issues in knowledge management and learning.  Read the AIM reports on Signature Practices of successful organizations and on Organizational Learning

Ideas on Customising the Material

The e-Government Monitor is a useful public sector site, alongside the IBM Business of Government site.

Useful Websites

Probably the best repository of websites on knowledge management and technology is BRINT.  As it says on the can, you probably won't need to look much further.