A University-based Approach to the Diffusion of KM Concepts and Practice

Abstract: This paper addresses the diffusion of Knowledge Management concepts, principles, and cases into university courses. Although we are now living in a world of gigabit transmission systems and terabyte storage, there are still long delays that often occur before industry practice finds its way into university courses. Knowledge Management practices have been elaborated in books, articles, cases, and symposia for almost a decade, with particular acceleration during recent years. Yet only a small number of universities offer KM courses, and few are offered at top business schools. In order to speed the assimilation of KM courses to universities, we describe the essential tools and resources needed in order to give our colleagues a head start in the preparation for KM courses. We also hope to facilitate the university’s traditional role as an agent for diffusing best practices and sound principles to a broader audience. To achieve this, we present an approach that brings together the intellectual territory, books, resources, and a few early lessons we have learned into a “toolkit” that should aid teachers in several disciplines in planning and delivering KM courses at the university level.

The resources for KM teaching are abundant and include dozens of books, hundreds of articles, extensive WWW resources, and a fast-growing group of cases. We provide samples of the most suitable resources. The crucial question for preparing a KM course is the intellectual territory that can be covered. We present eight recommended modules, including: Knowledge Creation, History of KM Theory/Concepts, The Importance of Trust, Knowledge Coding, and Hardware/ Software/Systems, KM ROI/Evaluation. Since many approaches or emphases for KM courses are possible, we suggest four examples, each including different proportions of the core modules. These course approaches are: Current Industry Practice, KM History, Concepts and Theory, Human/Personnel Factors, and Hardware, Software, and Systems. A matrix matches resources, modules, and approaches to help a professor personalize and save considerable time in the preparation of a KM course. KM seems ready to evolve into a robust body of concepts and practices that will be taught far beyond business schools. We hope that the concepts and recommendations presented in this paper will speed the diffusion process.

Stephen Ruth, Jeffrey Theobald, Virgil Frizzell: A University-based Approach to the Diffusion of Knowledge Management Concepts and Practice. In: Prasad, J. (Ed.): Managing Organizational Knowledge for Strategic Advantage: The Key Role of Information Technology and Personnel. Proceedings of the 1999 ACM SIGCPR conference on Computer personnel research, New Orleans, Apr. 8-10, 1999. ACM, 1999: 283-290.

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