Collaborative knowledge management

The primary goal of knowledge management is to “improve organizational performance by enabling individuals to capture, share, and apply their collective knowledge to make optimal decisions…in real time” (Smith and Farquhar, 2000). The approach of deploying centralized data repositories in an organization to gather organizational knowledge is considered a “conventional” or “traditional” knowledge management.

With technology changes, approaches to knowledge management are shifting. A “traditional” or “conventional” approach to knowledge management focuses on collection of knowledge in a centralized repository and its accessibility whereas a “conversational” approach emphases the integration and collaboration of knowledge creation amongst knowledge workers (Lee and Lan, 2007). The empirical evidence shows that knowledge management is a collaborative activity, which depends on the creation of ‘shared context’ between the participants (Clarke and Cooper, 2000). A study of thirty-one knowledge management projects in twenty-four companies, recognize the importance of knowledge sharing (Davenport et al., 1998).

Information technology is creating the opportunity to collaborate (Davenport et al., 1998). Information technology offers several possibilities for making social networks and collaborative knowledge management more visible, inspectable, and systematic, which may aid the process of organizational learning. Collaborative knowledge management tools that allow people to share documents, make comments, engage in discussion, create schematic diagrams, and so on can be valuable aids to support organizational learning (Jones, 2001). The new approach to knowledge management could be described as a “Community of Practice (COP)” (Keyes, 2006). COP is a group of people who are interested in the same topics and share a common practice within the same period of time. They may not stay in the same geographical location, share the same time zone, but on the same knowledge networks.

Internet and Web connectivity has greatly improved the popularity of these conversational technologies in recent years (Wagner and Bolloju, 2005). Technologies like discussion forums, wikis, and weblogs are referred as conversational, to reflect that much of the knowledge creation and sharing is carried out through a process of discussion with questions and answers (discussion forum), collaborative editing (wikis), or through a process of storytelling (weblogs) (Wagner and Bolloju, 2005). Conversations, whether in discussion forums or other media have been recognized as a useful medium for knowledge exchange and extraction (Nishida, 2002).


Clarke, P. & Cooper, M. (2000) Knowledge Management And Collaboration. Proc. of the Third Int. Conf. On Practical Aspects of Knowledge Management (PAKM2000). Basel, Switzerland.

Davenport, T. H., De Long, D. W. & Beers, M. C. (1998) Successful Knowledge Management Projects. Sloan Management Review Vol 39, No. 2, 43-57.

Jones, P. M. (2001) Collaborative Knowledge Management, Social Networks, and Organizational Learning. IN SMITH, M. J. & SALVENDY, G. (Eds.) Systems, social and internationalization design aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI International 2001 proceedings). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Keyes, J. (2006) Knowledge Management, Business Intelligence, and Content Management: the IT practitioner’s Guide, Taylor & Francis Group, USA.

Lee, M. R. & Lan, Y. (2007) From Web 2.0 to Conversational Knowledge Management: Towards Collaborative Intelligence. Journal of Entrepreneurship Research,Vol 2, No. 2, 47-62.

Nishida, T. (2002) A traveling conversation model for dynamic knowledge interaction. Journal of Knowledge Management,Vol.,No.,Vol 7, No. 4, 124-134.

Smith, R. & Farquhar, A. (2000) The road ahead for knowledge management. AI magazine,Vol 21, No. 4, 17–40.

Wagner, C. & Bolloju, N. (2005) Supporting knowledge management in organizations with conversational technologies: discussion forums, weblogs, and wikis. Journal of Database Management,Vol 16, No. 2, 1-8.