Knowledge Risk Management and the Challenger disaster


When tragic events happen that could have been prevented, we all want to know how and why they happened. One example is  that of the Challenger disaster. In 1986, a space shuttle called the Challenger blew up after takeoff killing those on board. In the aftermath, an investigation was done into the cause of the tragedy to see how and why it happened. Kumar and Chakrabarti look into this tragedy through the lens of bounded awareness and tacit knowledge as it pertains to decisions made by managements. Bounded awareness is experienced when decision makers “overlook relevant  and readily available information and take a decision that is either suboptimal or entirely erroneous” (Kumar and Chakrabarti, 2012, p. 935). We have all probably experienced bounded awareness at some point in our lives (at least, I know I have). We may not always make good decisions and often overlook or ignore information that could help…

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Codification and other such matters


I have focused more on tacit knowledge than explicit knowledge and codification. So, for this blog post, I decided to change it up a bit. Though, of course, one can never escape from tacit knowledge no matter how one may try. I had a hard time with this blog post so it’s a little all over the place so please ask any questions!

Cowan et al. (2000) and Kimble (2013)  both focus on codification especially in regards to economics. Incidentally,  though, most of their discussion revolves around tacit knowledge and developing it into explicit and codification. Cowan et. al. (2000) stated “tacit knowledge thus has come to signify an absolute type, namely ‘not codified knowledge'” (p. 212). At least this seemed to be the case with economists.  Cowan et. al. believe that tacit knowledge is not always inarticularable (which  Nonaka and Polanyi thought as well). Sometimes is just isn’t necessary to…

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Social Media Part 1

Social Media Part 1

This is the first part of a 2 part series, because I have a lot to say about these four articles. I must admit that social media and I don’t really get along. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see the appeal and the importance of social media. However, I just do not use it very much. In fact, I didn’t get a Twitter account until I was forced to for this class which started a couple months ago (has it really been almost 2 months?!).  While I have enjoyed the discussions on Twitter and now think it is a great way to do discussions (partly because I get updates about it) and interact with people, I don’t do much else on twitter. I hardly get on facebook anymore and I’m only vaguely aware of the other social media outlets out there.  The articles I decided about this week deal with social media and I must say I am incredibly fascinated by it. They all deal with it through different perspectives. Two are about Customer Knowledge Management (my favorites), one is about viral events, and the last one is about wikis.

Social media has allowed for greater connectivity on multiple platforms. Social network sites make it possible for events to become viral, aka spreading to a large amount of people since social networking allows for a lot of weak ties to exist between people. For example, let’s say I have 300 friends on Facebook (that’s a slight exaggeration) and I post a message that gets seen by a lot of people in my friends list. Now let’s say a friend of mine shares it with all of her friends and so on and so forth. The original message has the potential to reach a lot of people who do not have strong ties to me. Hemsley and Mason (2013) suggest that for an event to become viral, people have to make 2 decisions: whether to read/watch the message or not and whether to forward the message or not (p. 144).  These decisions turn the user into an active user rather than just passive. They have to make a choice. This is something all four articles go into, at least a little bit. Hemsley and Mason (2013) go on to say that there are four points about the nature of viral events which are significant to knowledge management, the first one being those two decisions mentioned above. The second is that making those decisions to watch/read the message and pass it on means that the user thinks the message/event is worth passing on and is relevant. Third: once an event goes viral, it can take on iconic significance (Hemsley and Mason, 2013, p. 147). And Fourth: the more attention the event gets, it gets more attention from more people (since people want to know what everyone else is talking about).

Hemsley and Mason (2013) then talk about the nature of knowledge which was interesting because everything seems to go back to Polanyi and tacit knowledge. They bring up six views on the nature of knowledge: Knowledge Pyramid, Knowledge as a state of mind; Knowledge as Object; Knowledge as Process; Knowledge as Access to Information; Knowledge as Capability. I am not going into detail about these (since this is just the first article and I haven’t even brought up the other ones). They end up suggesting that organizations need to be open to change when it comes to social media.

“Social media enables workers to be immersed in the organization’s culture even during ‘non-work’ periods, simultaneously with cultures and behavioral norms of multiple other networks” (Hemsley and Mason, 2013, p. 157).

I mentioned earlier that when it comes to social media (like Twitter and Facebook) I am not as proficient as many others. When it comes to wikis, I know even less (except for Wikipedia). According to Grace (2009), many organizations are leaving traditional knowledge management systems for Web 2.0 applications like Wikis, blogs, and social software (p. 64). Also, let me say I had no idea how many types of wikis are out there.

“Wikis in particular embodies the highest attainable information sharing dream of an organization where a group of its members is voluntarily and unselfishly collaborating and creating knowledge and working towards a common goal to benefit the organization” (Grace, 2009, p. 65)

The quote above seems a bit idealistic to me (unselfishly? Really?). However, I see what it is saying. Wikis allow users to collaborate together and create knowledge together as a group instead of individually. It uses the combined efforts of many. It is interesting to me because I was taught in school to stay away from Wikipedia (granted that was mostly dealing with research purposes and Wikipedia is only one wiki out of many). Wikis are useful and do have value. But as rhugenwrites put it, “an unreliable Wikipedia post is just as bad as a poorly given speech with outdated statistics”.  Grace (2009) did a case study review on three different organizations: Mapa, eBay, and Ingenta. I was especially intriugied by Mapa’s reason for choosing wiki “because of its ability to not only capture explicit and migratory knowledge but also tacit and embedded knowledge which is critical to the knowledge intensive nature of the business” (Grace, 2009, p. 66). After all, tacit knowledge show up everywhere. By capturing tacit knowledge, would that make it explicit? Is it collaboration aspect of wikis that helps capture tacit knowledge?

Both of the articles deal with social media, though focusing on two different things (though if something does become viral, it could have its own wiki page J ). However, they both emphasize the importance of social media today for organizations. Organizations may be reluctant to embrace social media because it does mean a change and many people are resistant to change (I couldn’t help but think of one of our discussions on twitter). Grace (2009) concluded by saying “the strongest push for organizations embracing wiki technology is its ease of use and ability to facilitate knowledge sharing” (p. 72). I think this could also apply to other social media outlets.


Grace, T. P. L. (2009). Wikis as a knowledge management tool. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 64-74.

Hemsley, J., & Mason, R. M. (2013). Knowledge and knowledge management in the social media age. Journal of Organizatational Computing and Electronic Commerce, 23(1), 138-167.

Customer Knowledge Mangement and Social Media

Social Media Part 2 (+Customer Knowledge Management)

The second part of this social media blog deals with Customer Knowledge Management through two very different organizations: an academic library in Australia and Starbucks. What is Customer Knowledge Management? As mentioned in my Social Media Part 1 blog post, users are now seen as active participants rather than passive ones. Because of this, “their role is now more significant” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, p. 239). hereticalpoetical acknowledged this and suggests that “the passive user is becoming a relic of the Web 1.0 era”. This would mean that as users have become more active users, organizations need to adjust accordingly and reevaluate traditional knowledge management systems. Organizations have always tried to focus on their customers but with the rise of social media and more active participants, there is a lot more knowledge that can be gathered at this point (or something along those lines).

Both Chua and Banerjee (2013) and Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) see Customer Knowledge in three different categories: Knowledge about Customers (KAC), Knowledge from Customers (KRC), and Knowledge for Customers (KFC) (KFC=KAC+KRC). Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) see KAC as what the customers motivations, information needs, and interests are (these are normally explicit but also include indirect and tacit knowledge because of the librarians interactions with patrons), KRC deals with their perception, insights, reactions, knowledge of other products which facilitates continuous improvement, and KFC is generated by KAC and KRC (p. 10). Chua and Banerjee (2013) see it a little simpler than that (well sort of): KFC is the knowledge flow from organizations to customers, KRC is knowledge flow from customers to organizations, and KAC is knowledge flow among customers (I guess it is not important to see knowledge flow between organizations) (p. 238).  The differences between the two articles perhaps are because they are two different kinds of organizations.

As mentioned, both articles see KFC as integrating KAC and KRC. For Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012), the methodology for doing that started with the ‘tacit’ (generally understood, taken for granted) component of the librarians’ knowledge. (p. 18). It is interesting to me that the articles written in the past few years seem to assume the readers are familiar with tacit and explicit knowledge enough that they don’t have to spell it out as much. While I may be over generalizing, is tacit and explicit knowledge something that have just become commonplace, at least in knowledge management and similar circles? It would make sense.

“The thrust of Customer Knowledge Management (CKM) is to capture, organize, share, transfer and control knowledge related to customers for organizational benefits” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, 238). Basically, CKM deals with managing the knowledge of customers which I realize is fairly evident.  The biggest difference from the study of the academic library and starbucks is that starbucks deals more with the social media aspect of CKM.

So there are four emerging social media services that Starbucks has actively used for several years now. These are microblogging (MBS), social networking (SNS), Location-aware mobile services (LMC), and corporate discussion forum services (CDS). According to Chua and Banerjee (2013), social media brings a human side into knowledge management. Starbucks uses four main social media platforms to help CKM. These are Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and MyStarbuksIdea. They use all four to connect with users in different ways. “Starbucks deploys a wide range of social media tools for CKM that serve as effective branding and marketing instruments for the organizations” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, p. 245). They also encourage users to be more active participants and promote engagement.

Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) didn’t focus on social media at all for their study on the academic library (they also only focused on the faculty) but I would be interested to see how social media could be utilized for the library and CKM at the library. Starbucks has managed to use social media to their advantage and is even more connected with their customers. I know libraries (both academic and public and others) are on social media. However, how well do they engage with their patrons? Could using social media for customer knowledge management like Starbucks does help engage their patrons and understand their needs better? I realize that the mission of libraries and Starbucks are different (Starbucks goal is more focused on money and getting customers to keep buying their products) but maybe libraries could take a lesson from Starbucks. Would it work though? On a different note, Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) state that “one of the most effective uses of Customer Knowledge Management (CKM) systems is to provide timely and useful knowledge for the customers” (p. 21). I believe that CKM systems could be more beneficial for organizations today than traditional knowledge management systems.


Chua, A. Y. K., & Banerjee, S. (2013). Customer knowledge management via social media: The case of Starbucks. Journal of Knowledge Management, 17(2), 237-249.

Daneshgar, F., & Parirokh, M. (2012). An integrated customer knowledge management framework for academic libraries. The Library Quarterly, 82(1), 7-28.


My name is Abigail Keller and I am currently working on my MSLS from the University of Kentucky.  I have worked in public libraries, academic libraries, and archives. I enjoy working in all of them for different reasons, but my favorite part of all of them is working with patrons.  My favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, Ted Dekker, and Patrick Rothfuss. I love most genres, but prefer fantasy.