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Best practices in knowledge management: A review of contemporary approaches in a globalised world
chapterposted on 29.01.2019, 00:00 authored by Geoffrey ChapmanGeoffrey Chapman, Stephanie MachtStephanie Macht
The term ‘best practice’ is used widely in nearly every field of academic study, and purported best practices exist for every type of organisation, including public organisations, private organisations, not-for-profit companies, manufacturing firms, service-based firms, multinational corporations and small to medium-sized enterprises. The origin of the concept is not easy to establish, although the work of Schonberger (1986), which focused on developing world-class manufacturing techniques, is often cited as a fundamental basis for what came to be known as best practice. However, despite the omnipresence of the term over the past 30 years, there is surprisingly little agreement around what actually constitutes a best practice, and there is even less consensus around how beneficial it is for firms to implement changes to their organisational policies to better reflect the best practices of their industry (Castro and Frazzon 2017; Darbyshire et al. 1999; Peters and Heron 1993). However, this lack of consensus in definition and application have not resulted in a shortfall of research articles, handbooks, textbooks, industry reports and other forms of information that purport to outline the definitive set of best practices for any given field—knowledge management (KM) being no exception (Armstrong and Taylor 2014; Holsapple 2013; McIver et al. 2013; Oliva 2014). The sheer volume of material available creates a situation where best practices in KM appear to be everywhere, but are simultaneously very difficult to actually find. Managers are faced with a task somewhat akin to finding objects in a picture that is out of focus: you can see that they are there, but identifying them clearly is a significant challenge. This chapter attempts to bring that picture into sharper focus by delving into the ample information available on best practices in KM, and by examining some of the tools and initiatives used by organisations around the world. By providing this perspective, the chapter aims to establish what the currently held beliefs are regarding best practice in KM in the contemporary business world. To begin, the chapter considers two key perspectives on KM itself.