Levels of Knowledge Management

Knowledge management covers a broad spectrum of activities and operates at many levels, from the individual to the enterprise, between enterprises (as in virtual organizations). Much of the focus of a KM programmes is at enterprise level, i.e. knowledge management across an organization. However, many of the approaches and techniques of organizational knowledge management are equally applicable at several levels. The table below shows a hierarchy of levels and gives examples of factors addressed at each level.

Level Typical Programme Examples of Focus
International Various Accounting standards (intangible assets), WIPO (World Intellectial Property Organization)
Governments Knowledge economy Stimulating innovation, setting public sector KM standards, innovation scorecards
Intra-Organizational Collaborative alliances Pooling knowledge, new product development, market access
Enterprise Organization-wide KM programme Sharing best practice, intranet portal, communities of practice
Team or Department KM Project (localized) Business improvement, specialist knowledge base, virtual working
Individual PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) Skills development, time management, information management, effective use of PC and networks

Concept in Practice

Most frequently, people working at a given level do not consider the other levels. Thus policy makers who set 'knowledge economy' agendas do not take on board lessons from organizational KM initiatves and vice-versa. Yet our own experience has identified the value of synergy and alignment across these levels. For example, thinking behind some governmental innovation indices carry over extremely well into the corporate environment.

There is also growing interest in PKM (Personal Knowledge Management). After all, trying to implement a major KM programme across a diverse organization can be complex. Yet, if every individual can be developed to be more effective at managing their own knowledge and information, then the collective sum of many incremental improvements themselves contribute to better organizational knowledge management.

The international level is one that is not yet widely developed. There has been some movement towards international KM standards but this is a contentious area.

Last updated: 19th February 2011



Our resources section has several articles that will give you a good grounding in some of the basics and practicalities of knowledge management.

See full list of articles


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