For a long time companies relied on the production factors: labor, capital and (raw) material, but today the main production factor is knowledge (P. Drucker). Organizations, such as corporate enterprises, non-profits, educational institutions and governmental agencies, face the continual struggle to transform vast amounts of data, information and content into usable and reusable knowledge. Globalization and technological developments force organizations into a continuous process of change and adaptation.
Alvin Toffler and Peter Drucker already noticed the consequences in the 80's of the previous century. They mention the rise of the information based or knowledge based organization. This new type of organizations mainly consists of so-called 'knowledge workers' that largely depend on knowledge to do their work. Knowledge workers work rather autonomously hence a different organization structure is required that typically consist of less management layers. The growing awareness of knowledge as a distinct factor of production and the need for a new management approach has led to a new field of study and practice - knowledge management.
Another driver has been the development of so called 'knowledge systems'. However, results of implementing such systems are not always as expected. Systems are not always aligned with work practices, people need to know how to trust and interpret information provided, providing information or sharing knowledge is not automatically a part of everybody’s job routine.
Knowledge management is about organizing development and use of knowledge in such a way that it directly contributes to the competitive edge of a company. In the Knowledge Management course we will explore themes like 'knowledge management strategy', 'learning in organizations, networks and communities', 'culture and change', 'ICT support for knowledge processes’. Support and management of knowledge processes are studied from different viewpoints, among which McKinsey’s 7S framework (Strategy, Structure, Systems, Style, Staff, Skills and Shared Values) takes a prominent place. Consequently it is also discussed how to implement knowledge management practice into (knowledge-based) organizations