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Knowledge management: the darker side of KM

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Knowledge Management (KM) has become one of the most discussed issues amongst academics and practitioners working in the information systems arena. The source of knowledge, the dissemination of knowledge, and the motives of the knowledge provider and knowledge seeker have received less attention in the literature than their significance warrants, both in terms of practical outcomes and in terms of ethical issues. This paper sets out to re-examine some of the foundations of Knowledge Management, to show that much of the current discussion - including by those who are critical of the conceptual basis of KM - neglects or underplays some otherwise well known aspects of the topic. The paper points to the more manipulative processes which characterise the darker side of KM. Why is it even necessary to explore the ethical dimension of KM? There exist shades of desirable and undesirable directions of the experience of KM, processes in need of a critical awareness. We cannot assume that however knowledge is interpreted, facilitated, conceptualised, or experienced, that KM processes will always have a desirable outcome. The first section examines the multidisciplinary foundations of Knowledge Management. The second section discusses 'relationship guidelines' for engaging with KM in organizations. The concluding part examines the issues raised from the previous discussion and relates these to the theme of ethics. The paper concludes that if the study of KM is to have an enduring future it must take a more holistic stance and recognise that its antecedents come from many more disciplines than those, which are cited in its literature.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/14890/

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