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Title: Towards a knowledge management methodology for articulating the role of hidden knowledges
Author: Smith, Simon Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 791X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Knowledge Management Systems are deployed in organisations of all sizes to support the coordination and control of a range of intellectual assets, and the low cost infrastructures made available by the shift to ‘cloud computing’ looks to only increase the speed and pervasiveness of this move. However, their implementation has not been without its problems, and the development of novel interventions capable of supporting the mundane work of everyday organisational settings has ultimately been limited. A common source of trouble for those formulating such systems is said to be that some proportion of the knowledge held by a setting’s members is hidden from the undirected view of both The Organisation and its analysts - typically characterised as a tacit knowledge - and can therefore go unnoticed during the design and deployment of new technologies. Notwithstanding its utility, overuse of this characterisation has resulted in the inappropriate labelling of a disparate assortment of phenomena, some of which might be more appropriately re-specified as ‘hidden knowledges’: a standpoint which seeks to acknowledge their unspoken character without making any unwarranted claims regarding their cognitive status. Approaches which focus on the situated and contingent properties of the actual work carried out by a setting’s members - such as ethnomethodologically informed ethnography - have shown significant promise as a mechanism for transforming the role played by members’ practices into an explicit topic of study. Specifically they have proven particularly adept at noticing those aspects of members’ work that might ordinarily be hidden from an undirected view, such as the methodic procedures through which we can sometimes mean more than we can say in-just-so-many-words. Here - within the context of gathering the requirements for new Knowledge Management Systems to support the reuse of existing knowledge - the findings from the application of just such an approach are presented in the form of a Pattern Language for Knowledge Management Systems: a descriptive device that lends itself to articulating the role that such hidden knowledges are playing in everyday work settings. By combining these three facets, this work shows that it is possible to take a more meaningful approach towards noticing those knowledges which might ordinarily be hidden from view, and apply our new understanding of them to the design of Knowledge Management Systems that actively engage with the knowledgeable work of a setting’s members.
Supervisor: Jirotka, Marina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethnographic practices ; Science and technology (business & management) ; Computing ; Program development and tools ; Software engineering ; ethnomethodology ; knowledge management ; tacit knowledge ; knowledge management systems ; ethnography ; pattern languages