Knowledge Management - "A New Paradigm"


Gayathri M
Department of Management Studies
AMC Engineering College


With the emergence of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG), the business environment has become more dynamic, markets are becoming competitive, businesses are becoming service-oriented and diversified, educated workforce is growing in number. Information revolution is actually knowledge revolution. Nowadays, organizations are capitalizing on knowledge-based work and knowledge workers are regarded as "Intellectual Capital". 

Paradigm Shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change. There is transformation of the industrial economy into a knowledge-based economy in 21st Century. In this scenario; the role of HR managers has become very crucial. They need to attract, mold, develop, retain and fulfill the expectations of "knowledge workers". It has become evident that the application of effective HRM practices in managing them can only lead the organization towards success.

A knowledge worker helps the company in gaining competitive advantage over the others by developing business intelligence, getting knowledge of customer preferences, buying behavior and their expectations, increasing the value of intellectual capital and other variety of knowledge benefits that aid the business of the organization.

Managing knowledge workers is indeed a difficult task as these people are more aware of the latest happenings, have high expectations and are more prone to switch to another organization if not satisfied. So, managing knowledge workers is one of the greatest challenges encountered by HR managers. If the HR department follows proper techniques and ways of managing knowledge workers can be enhanced and the overall efficiency of the organization can be improved.


Knowledge management is not only about the latest technology but also managing knowledge within the company and treating it as the most valued asset for the success of the company. Knowledge workers are people who use their heads more than their hands to produce value. They add value through their ideas, their analyses, their judgment and their designs.

Machines can do knowledge processes but Human Mind only sustains the knowledge within the organization.

Knowledge may be defined as the capacity to act.  It is both about issues are being dealt with. Two types of knowledge are: tacit and explicit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge: 

1. It is the personal knowledge embedded in individual experience
2. It can be shared and exchanged through direct, fact-to-face contact
3. It is deeply rooted in the individual's action, experience as well as in the ideals, values or emotions he or she embraces.
4. Subjective insights, intuitions, etc., are the examples o f tacit knowledge.

Explicit knowledge:

1. It is the formal knowledge that can be packaged as information.
2. It can be found in the documents of an organization reports, articles and manuals, patents, pictures, video images, sound, software, etc.
3. It defines the identity, the competences and intellectual assets of an organization independently of its employees.

However, the explicit knowledge can grow and sustain only through the growth of tacit knowledge.

What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management may be defined as a systematic, explicit and deliberate building, renewal and application of knowledge to maximize an enterprise knowledge-related effectiveness and returns from its knowledge assets.

In simple terms, knowledge management is a systematic and organized attempt to generate knowledge within an organization that can transform its ability to store and use knowledge for improving performance.

Importance of Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Management in Organizations.

Knowledge has become the buzz word in many organizations today.  It is largely due to the shift of power from an industrial economy to global decentralized information driven economy. From the 1990's the knowledge age has emerged age to supersede the information age (between 1960 and 1990)

In this knowledge age an, organization can no longer expect that the products and services that made them successful in the past will keep them in business in future. The organizations having rich 'knowledge source' only can able to maintain and enhance their core competence and corporate identity. In this competitive global market, the knowledge management is considered as intangible asset which can provide a substantial competitive advantage.

Since tangible assets such as land, machinery, etc., can be bought/owned by all organization to gain a competitive edge in the market by turning intellectual assets into value through innovation.  Knowledge management can be used for creating customer value, operational excellence and product innovation, by which the profit and effectiveness of the organization will increase.

 Also much of the value added work in organization's today is primarily knowledge-based.  For example, the work of the following functions or departments is essentially knowledge-based:

a. Customer service
b. Information system
c. Finance
d. HR/Administration
e. Management
f. Manufacturing (such as CAM, JIT concepts)

Thus the knowledge management, especially in present scenario, is very important, because

i. It leverages internal and external expertise to build and apply industry- leading skills and
ii. It develops and exploits in tangible based assets including brands, technology, and know-how.


 Peter Ducker coined the term 'Knowledge Worker' in 1959 and defined a Knowledge Worker as: "Anyone who works for a living at the tasks of developing or using knowledge".  For example, a knowledge worker might be someone who works at any of the tasks of planning, acquiring, searching, analyzing, organizing, storing, programming, distributing, marketing, or otherwise contributing to the transformation and commerce of information and those who work at using the knowledge so produced".

A knowledge worker helps the company is gaining a competitive advantage over the others by developing business intelligence, getting knowledge of customer preferences, buying behavior and their expectations, increasing the val7ure of intellectual capital and other variety of knowledge benefits that aid the business of the organization.

Examples of knowledge workers are: core professional like teachers, lawyers, architects, doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists and all such professionals who deal with information technology.


A knowledge worker demonstrates strategic, managerial and operational traits.  There are various characteristics and abilities which convert them into intellectual capital.  The foremost characteristic of knowledge workers is that they have 'good thinking and analytical power'; they have good vision and can make strategies that how the product or the company can perform better.  They have the ability to think independently.  Along with analytical skills, they are endowed with 'innovative skills and creativity". Knowledge workers with help of their creativity discover innovative techniques to help their firing to develop further.

The second characteristic that knowledge workers possess is 'continuous learning'.  They can learn, unlearn and relearn in tune with the fast-changing environment.  They are learning-oriented and focus on organizational learning to ensure operational excellence of organization along with their own growth.  The third characteristic is the ability to work with 'team spirit'.  Knowledge workers believe in collaboration, cooperation, and coordination while working and have a good team spirit.  They search, create, share, and use knowledge regularly.

Knowledge workers are 'calculated risk takers', as well as 'emotional intelligent' people. They do not fear risks; in fact they make decisions with calculated risk.  They seek challenges in work and do not follow instructions blindly.  Knowledge workers primarily have the characteristic of emotional intelligence.  It is the capacity of understanding our own feelings as well as those of others.  It helps in motivating and managing ourselves as well as others.  Knowledge workers have all the characteristic of emotional intelligence, i.e., they have self-awareness, possess empathy, have influential personality, as well as have self-control.

Knowledge workers are 'action-oriented professionals'. They are willing to embrace professional discipline, have patience and determination.  They are highly qualified professionals with a high a level of education.   Knowledge workers may either have expertise on specific skills or to multidimensional skills.


Undoubtedly, knowledge workers are very effective in for increasing the productivity and the overall efficiency of organizations but managing them is a very challenging task. 

The main challenge that comes in the way is that it is an expensive affair.  Expenditure includes money invested in HR (recruitment, training, compensation, benefits, etc) as well as in infrastructure.  In order to utilize knowledge workers more efficiently, organizations need to have 'sound infrastructure and hi-tech information technology'. 

The second important challenge is 'sharing of knowing' effectively between multiple knowledge workers and knowledge teams who are involved in various projects concurrently and independently. 

And, last but not least challenge is managing expectations.  Knowledge workers have high expectations in terms of challenging jobs, growth opportunities, and quality of work life, pay packages and benefits given by organization.  So in order to motivate and retain those, organizations need to provide the best possible facilities to them.

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Source: E-mail December 6, 2010


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