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Critical issues in research on real‐time knowledge management in enterprises

Omar A. El Sawy (Professor of Information Systems, and Director of Research, Center for Telecom Management, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA (
Ann Majchrzak (Professor of Information Systems, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA (

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 August 2004



This paper aims to identify and articulate critical research issues in the emerging area of real‐time knowledge management (RT‐KM) in enterprises, in order to stimulate other researchers to further pursue them. The paper creates a framework around which it identifies and examines research issues and challenges that become salient and critical when knowledge sharing and creation need to happen in near real‐time. The framework is based on two drivers: increasing the requirements to plan for quickening the action‐learning loop in the enterprise, and increasing requirements in planning for emergence. The action‐learning loop is further articulated through the “observe, orient, decide, and act” (OODA) framework that is suited to sense‐and‐respond environments. Through the framework six sets of critical research challenges are identified around RT‐KM in enterprises: challenges around managing the quality of information in RT‐KM, challenges around improving the selective and intensive aspects of managerial attention in RT‐KM, challenges around making core business processes better suited to RT‐KM, challenges around integrating multiple distributed perspectives unpredictably in RT‐KM, challenges around developing heuristics in a way that allow real‐time emergence, and challenges around effectively capturing actions and learning for later reuse in RT‐KM. The issues and challenges identified are suggestive rather than exhaustive. Based on observations from real field case studies in industry, and driven by an industry need for better RT‐KM. This paper brings together the concepts of vigilant information systems, OODA loops, and emergence and applies them through a framework to identify research issues and challenges in this new emerging area of RT‐KM.



El Sawy, O.A. and Majchrzak, A. (2004), "Critical issues in research on real‐time knowledge management in enterprises", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 21-37.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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