Ramblings & ephemera

4 basic functions of knowledge management

From Carl Frappaolo’s “Four basic functions” in Computerworld (23 February 1998)

The four basic functions of knowledge management are externalization, internalization, intermediation and cognition …

Externalization is capturing knowledge in an external repository and organizing it according to a classification framework or taxonomy. At the low end are technologies that simply provide a means to capture knowledge and store it online …

The next level of externalization holds more powerful and promising search tools and document management systems that classify the stored knowledge and identify similarities among separate information sources. …

Ultimately, the role of externalization is to make your captured knowledge available to knowledge seekers through internalization or intermediation. …

Whereas externalization seeks to discover the existence of similar bodies of knowledge, internalization tries to discover bodies of knowledge relevant to a particular user’s need. With internalization, you extract knowledge from the external repository and filter it to identify what is relevant to the knowledge seeker. Internalization helps a researcher communicate a problem or point of interest and map that against the bodies of knowledge already captured through externalization. …

Whereas internalization focuses on the transfer of explicit knowledge, intermediation brokers tacit knowledge. It matches a knowledge seeker with the best source of knowledge. By tracking the experience and interests of individuals, intermediation can link people who need to explore certain subjects with people who appear to harbor knowledge in that area. … Intermediation is automated through technologies such as groupware, intranets, workflow and document management systems….

Cognition is the application of knowledge that’s been exchanged through the preceding three functions and is the ultimate goal of knowledge management.

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