From the emergence of Knowledge Management (KM) systems until today, the vast majority of the implemented systems have concentrated on a centralised architecture, which utilizes knowledge within a single organizational domain. Lately, there is much focus on alternative, distributed approaches, which attempt to overcome the single organization’s KM paradigm, and develop inter-organizational knowledge exchange infrastructures. Effective management from a security perspective is always a serious and difficult to achieve challenge, especially when it comes to managing resources from cooperating autonomous domains. Security issues in Information Systems coalition enabling environments are treated in this paper and a secure distributed KM architecture is being presented.
Distributed Knowledge Management Systems (DKMS) are often faced to heterogeneous environments associated with the absence of shared vocabularies. DKMSs realise Knowledge Flows between autonomous Knowledge Nodes as parts of social networks. Schwotzer models the KNs’ individual policies for input relevance and output strategy as Knowledge Ports. Topic Map Technologies are well suited for the semantic integration of distributed, heterogeneous knowledge. But current implementations base on pure naming approaches to Subject Identity in connection with the use of shared vocabularies. Maicher’s SIM Approach helps to use Topic Map Technologies for the semantic integration of distributed, heterogeneous knowledge in the absence of shared vocabularies. To detect Subject similarity it exploits the Topics’ usage in the current context. Our contribution is the liaison of the Knowledge Port Approach and the SIM Approach. This leads to DKMSs which significantly better deal with the absence of shared vocabularies.
Various studies focus on general networks within and between organizations, but strongly focused studies on knowledge sharing through social networks and communities within specific domains that are of critical relevance to the R&D organization are hard to find. Therefore, the argument presented here is explored through an empirical case study on inter-organizational knowledge community building between different research institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a large German organization for contract research in all fields of the applied engineering sciences. Expert knowledge communication and networking processes are evaluated by a multi-level approach. Institutionalization of knowledge transfer is studied with regard to the development of the informal contacts between the community members and the inter-organizational linkages on an aggregated level. The main focus is put on the relationships of knowledge exchange between the formal organizational boundaries and the informal interorganizational network structures. Finally, this case study aims at further supporting the adaptation of methods from social network analysis for purposes of organization and management practice.
Knowledge management solutions relying on central repositories sometimes have not met expectations, since users often create knowledge ad-hoc using their individual vocabulary and using their own decentral IT infrastructure (e.g., their laptop). To improve knowledge management for such decentralized and individualized knowledge work, it is necessary to, first, provide a corresponding IT infrastructure and to, second, deal with the harmonization of different vocabularies/ ontologies. In this paper, we briefly sketch the technical peer-to-peer platform that we have built, but then we focus on the harmonization of the participating ontologies. Thereby, the objective of this harmonization is to avoid the worst incongruencies by having users share a core ontology that they can expand for local use at their will and individual needs. The task that then needs to be solved is one of distributed, loosely-controlled and evolving engineering of ontologies. In this paper we present a corresponding process template and a case study.
In many organisations, conservation of specialised expertise is picked out as a central theme only after experienced members have already left. The paper presents the SELaKT method, a method for Sustainable Expert Localisation and Knowledge Transfer based on social network analysis (SNA). It has been developed during a project co-operation between the Department of Information Science at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Free University Berlin, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK, Berlin. The SELaKT method uses recent insights into network analysis and pragmatically adapts SNA to suit organisational practice. Thus it provides a strategic tool to localise experts, to identify knowledge communities and to analyse the structure of knowledge flows within and between organisations. The SELaKT method shows its advances and increasing relevance for practical use by integration of specific organisational conditions and requirements into the process of analysis.
IT support for knowledge management that builds on rather standard information systems architectures, e.g. a Web server with underlying database technologies, has proven beneficial in many situations where knowledge processes supported in this way were comparatively rigid and where the value of knowledge could be reasonably easily be assessed. However, these assumptions do not hold for less rigid knowledge processes; thus, more decentralised solutions have been proposed. With SWAPSTER we have built a Peer-to-Peer knowledge management platform that avoids some of the issues that detriment centralised solutions. This platform is surveyed here. We also show methods that support new ways of socialisation enabled by the Peer-to-Peer platform.
The Distributed Knowledge Management (DKM) approach tries to overcome problems deriving from a typical outcome of traditional Knowledge Management (KM) solutions: the creation of a unique conceptualization of corporate knowledge (e.g. an ontology or a unique system of classification) which does not allow autonomy of organizational units and the coexistence of different conceptual schemas (e.g. points of view or perspectives). This new approach takes strongly into account local heterogeneity, and looks at complex knowledge-based organizations as constellations of local organizational units which manage knowledge in an autonomous way, exchanging it with other units through meaning negotiation/coordination processes. In a DKM system each autonomous unit is reified by a Knowledge Node (KN), a useful abstraction which allows us to identify, within organizations, people who manage knowledge according to a local conceptual schema and a personalized system of artifacts. In this paper, a new methodology is described and then used to unveil Knowledge Nodes in a case study: Impresa Pizzarotti & C. S.p.A., a complex Italian building industry. It is argued that the resulting Distributed Knowledge Management system might be implemented within the firm with a high probability of success, because the system of Knowledge Nodes (discovered through this methodology) reflects the perspective and the way in which organizational units usually manage their knowledge.
The goal of this article is to explore some of the main reasons that sustain a
distributed approach to Knowledge Management, and this will be done, first, showing how, according to very different theoretical disciplines, knowledge diversity is proposed as the very source of organizational innovation and adaptability; second providing some evidence coming from major applicative domains; third proposing some considerations on the role of technology.
In our work a new approach, the Distributed Knowledge Management (DKM) approach, is used and organizations are seen as constellations of communities, which “own” local knowledge and exchange it through meaning negotiation coordination processes. In order to reify communities within a DKM system, the concept of Knowledge Node (KN) is used and then applied in a case study: a complex Italian national firm, the Impresa Pizzarotti & C. S.p.A. All communities of practices are unveiled and reified as KNs within a high level architecture of a DKM system. In this paper it is argued that, even if knowledge has to be organized and made useful to the whole organization, there are types of knowledge that must be managed in an autonomous way, and the DKM approach is a good system which to deal with coordination/ negotiation processes.
In this paper, we criticise the objectivistic approach that underlies most current systems for Knowledge Management. We show that such an approach is incompatible with the very nature of what is to be managed (i.e., knowledge), and we argue that this may partially explain why most knowledge management systems are deserted by users. We propose a different approach – called distributed knowledge management – in which subjective and social (in a word, contextual) aspects of knowledge are seriously taken into account. Finally, we present a general technological architecture in which these ideas are implemented by introducing the concept of knowledge node.