Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Barriers - Three Blurry Terms in KM
Paper in proceedings, 2011
In the knowledge management world there are many different terms flying around. Some are more important and frequently used than others. In this paper, we present and discuss the development and views of three terms: knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing and knowledge barriers. Knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing are sometimes used synonymously or have overlapping content. Several authors have pointed out this confusion while other authors have attempted to clarify the differences and define the terms. Knowledge barriers in themselves seem to have a more obvious content although the borders between knowledge barriers and connecting terms, such as 'barriers to knowledge sharing', seem to blur discussions and views. Our aim is to make a contribution to finding appropriate demarcations between these concepts. After reviewing Knowledge Management literature, we can state that the three terms, knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing and knowledge barriers, are somewhat blurred. For knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing, the blurriness is linked mainly to the fact that the analytical level each term is related to has come and gone and come back again. For knowledge barriers, the blurriness comes from the development of the term. The mere existence of the many different categorizations of knowledge barriers implies that the concept itself is blurry. The concept seems clear cut and focuses on knowledge although it is also broad and later sources have included much more than knowledge. This paper concludes by highlighting the effects on the terms when two different knowledge perspectives, knowledge as an object (or the K-O view) and knowledge as a subjective contextual construction (or the K-SCC view) are applied. The clarifications are supported by examples from companies in different industries (such as Cargotec and IKEA) and the public sector (police, fire brigade, ambulance and other emergency services).