IT managers concerned with implementing knowledge management in their organizations today face a number of challenges in developing sound methods for this area of management practice. If they are to understand how to manage knowledge in organizations, managers must understand that knowledge management is the attempt to maximize the use of knowledge which exists in an organization. One way of understanding is to think of it as being ‘information-plus’ or information combined with experience, context, interpretation, reflection and is highly contextual (Barnes, 2001). Knowledge in organizations evolves from different origins and is engaged in different ways. Implicit in this suggestion is the important idea that knowledge is not just an object, but also the outcome of people working together, sharing experiences, and constructing meaning out of what they do. This paper begins by introducing two different approaches to identifying and managing knowledge in organizations. These two approaches are characterized as the “tacit knowledge” approach and the “explicit knowledge” approach. Then continues by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach; and finally addresses the roles of information professionals with respect to each approach of knowledge.
The Tacit Knowledge Approach
In organizations, tacit knowledge is personal knowledge used by members and is therefore difficult to extract from the heads of individuals. According to Polanyi, chemist turned philosopher of science, "We know more than we can tell". By this he meant that tacit knowledge is knowledge that is hidden from the consciousness of the knower (Wilson, 2002). The tacit knowledge approach typically holds that the dissemination of knowledge in an organization can best be accomplished by the transfer of people as “knowledge carriers” from one part of an organization to another. Further, this view believes that learning in an organization occurs when individuals come...