What is Knowledge Management?
Knowledge management (KM) is a broad term with many different definitions depending on the discussion's context. The IFLA Knowledge Management section provides this working definition: "KM is a process of creating, storing, sharing, applying and re-using organisational knowledge to enable an organisation to achieve its goals and objectives. KM is extending the concept of "knowledge" beyond existing concepts like "memory", "storage", and "information". The term covers such areas as tacit knowledge (expertise), implicit knowledge, explicit knowledge and procedural knowledge."

Here are a few examples of other authors' definitions of "knowledge management."

"Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers." (Gartner Group quoted in Duhon, Bryant. "It's all in our Heads." Inform 12.8 (1998): 8-13)

"Knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge." (Davenport and Prusak, cited in Ponzi, Leonard and Koenig, Michael, "Knowledge Management: Another Management Fad?" Information Research, 8.1 (2002). link)


"Perhaps the most central thrust in KM is to capture and make available, so it can be used by others in the organization, the information and knowledge that is in people's heads as it were, and that has never been explicitly set down." (Koenig, Michael E. D. "What Is KM? Knowledge Management Explained." KMWorld Magazine. KMWorld, 4 May 2012. link)

  • "Knowledge management (KM) is not a new concept. As individuals, we’ve been building on knowledge learned all our lives. As nations and as a world community, we turn to history books for knowledge about the past so we don’t have to keep repeating mistakes or reinventing the same implements and programs. And when we’ve gathered knowledge, we’ve begun to manage it—sometimes unconsciously, sometimes quite deliberately—to make the best use of what we do know and to identify what we don’t know.
  • Even in a work environment where technology informs and powers almost everything, KM is not dependent on a software system. Software can make it easier to manage knowledge, but it’s not a prerequisite for starting to think of ways to capture and build on the expertise in an organization.
  • KM is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process that requires continual maintenance if it is not to become obsolete.
  • KM is not the possession of any one department. Although the expertise of individuals such as the organization’s learning professionals if vital to its success, the entire project of creating a KM system is best served by a cross-departmental team, and maintenance of the system is an organizationwide responsibility."
(Atwood, Christee Gabour. Knowledge Management Basics. Alexandria, VA: ASTD, 2009. p 1-2)