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Working Knowledge - How Organizations Manage What They Know

Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak
Harvard Business School Press, 1998
ISBN 0875846556

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This is an excellent overview of the important and elusive subject of knowledge management. As stated by the authors, the core message of this book is that " the only sustainable advantage a firm has comes from what it collectively knows, how efficiently it uses what it knows, and how readily it acquires and uses new knowledge." After establishing a working vocabulary, this book examines what knowledge is (and how it is different from information and data), how to gain access to an organization's knowledge, how to use knowledge successfully, and how to develop "knowledge capital" -- the knowledge that an organization retains as its people come and go. Case histories from more than 40 organizations are used throughout the book.

Table of Contents:

  1. What Do We Talk about When We Talk about Knowledge?
  2. The Promise and Challenge of Knowledge Markets
  3. Knowledge Generation
  4. Knowledge Codification and Coordination
  5. Knowledge Transfer
  6. Knowledge Roles and Skills
  7. Technologies for Knowledge Management
  8. Knowledge Management Projects in Practice
  9. The Pragmatics of Knowledge Management
  10. Reference Notes and Index

In general, the book should be read in chapter order. Chapter 1 is required reading for anyone new to the study of knowledge management -- for example, before attending a KM conference or seminar. And don't miss Chapter 9, a very pragmatic discussion on starting and incrementally improving a KM program within an organization.

This book is grounded in a rich set of case studies involving more than 40 organizations. Many case studies -- most successful, some not -- help to legitimize the emerging paradigm of knowledge management. This is definitely a "how to" reference for managing knowledge within an organization, as well as an overview for anyone concerned with maintaining an organization's competitive advantage.

Contributed by Warren Craycroft, ProjectConnections staff

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