The following two chapters consider some of the other big questions in knowledge management (KM). What we find, like those around the nature of knowledge, is that the principle issues have changed little over the last two decades. One in particular concerns the question over what KM is all about. This might seem a little surprising considering how long KM has been active in organizational management and research. But this remains a live issue as we will find in the following discussions, and in Part Two in the analysis of a public online knowledge manager’s discussion forum which is themed on this precise question (the topic of computer-mediated communication in general is reviewed in Chapter 6). The roots of the issue can be clearly traced back to the debate over the nature of knowledge itself and the influence of the systems approach.

The present chapter focuses on the constitution of KM, beginning with an investigation of its origins revealing a variety of often competing opinions and viewpoints. The discussions then move onto KM itself, finding multiple perspectives and near limitless boundaries. Particular consideration is given to the question of whether KM is merely a passing management fad. The role of technology as both a defining and push factor in the drive to take up KM reveals interesting perspectives with the suggestion of a further schism in the field: those who consider the nature of ...

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