Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This book is an anthology of 13 edited and developed papers originally presented at the Management of Information and Communication Technology conference, Copenhagen, 15‐16 September, 1999. Each paper is a separate chapter, with the chapters divided into three sections: context and philosophy; tools and methods; and management and applications.
The general theme is the intelligent use of information technology (ICT), taking a management and strategic perspective into how information is produced and used for the benefit of the organization. The basic premise is that knowledge is a critical asset that needs to be managed for the long‐term survival of the contemporary company, given that information and communication technologies now encompass the whole firm. The implication is that ICT presents new challenges for management with regard to how business is done and operations are organised in practice. A special focus is on how businesses can be organised with regard to relationships with customers and suppliers, and how the internal operations can be organized in order to take advantage of opportunities brought by the new technologies.
The editors define “intelligence” as the ability to solve problems the subject has never been confronted with by means of an extensive analytical capacity and experience. They believe that “intelligent management” is about contributing to the creation of an organizational arena supporting distribution and sharing of relevant knowledge and experience. Hence, intelligent management is something that takes place in a socially embedded context.
“Knowledge” does not carry a single definition in these papers but is treated dependent upon the perspective chosen in each paper. The editors question whether knowledge is something that can be treated as an object or if knowledge should be seen as the subject enabling the transformation of information into actions.
Addressed within context and philosophy are matters such as the co‐evolvement of information systems issues and organizational issues; extended organizations (a mixture of both inter‐organizational collaborations and vertically integrated organizations); and organizational knowledge leadership and the understanding of knowledge across the boundaries of scholarship and professional practice.
The tools and methods covered include:
communities of practice and activity systems;
process warehouse (a data warehouse approach for business process management);
online conversations (online support systems); and
electronic knowledge carriers that have interaction and reactivation characteristics.
optimising the business value of electronic commerce;
a discussion on knowledge management and organizational learning in multinational companies with a focus on the relative merits of standardization versus local adaptation;
artificial sellers (future e‐commerce applications);
the bazaar model of virtual networking; and
an examination of whether ICT enhances or diminishes place‐bound advantages (geography) of innovative firms.
The general thrust of many chapters in the book is that senior managers today (and especially tomorrow) are knowledge managers and that their actions and their organization's structure needs to reflect that. This is clearly differentiated from the technical aspects of information or knowledge management (process, systems and structures).
Two aspects worth considering are the breadth of the subject matter covered and the age of the contributions. Each of the chapters tackles a different aspect(s) of knowledge and management: this might be an issue for the general reader but perhaps not for its target audience. It is also interesting that the book comprises contributions that are now about four years old, but the subject matter is dealt with at a level that does not date quickly. The contributions still have relevance.
This book will not be the book‐of‐choice for someone new to the ways and means of knowledge management or senior management in an organization. There are other books that will provide the basics and do so in a reader‐friendly manner. This book is an advanced text and experienced individuals will gain the most from it.