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4.18.2 Information visualisation

We read increasingly of the problem of information overload. Earlier, we emphasised the importance of designing appropriate information representations to assist human interpretation in order to create actionable knowledge. Information visualisation is concerned explicitly with designing representations using intuitive visual metaphors and graphics to highlight the most important aspects of information structures and processes. Information visualisation is a rapidly emerg
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4.18.1 Data mining

Data mining refers to techniques for analysing databases or information systems to try to identify hidden but significant patterns that are not possible to detect by standard querying of the database.

Moxon defines data mining as follows:

Data mining is a set of techniques used in an automated approach to exhaustively explore and bring to the surface complex relationships in very large datasets … most likely im
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4.14.1 Metadata

Metadata is descriptive data about data. This has also come to refer to a way of tagging documents (on the Web or any other repository) with structured, descriptive information. For example, to describe a unit in B823, we would expect to have concepts such as title and author, but perhaps also prerequisite or core concepts. Translated into a metadata scheme, this might appear as follows (typically metadata fields use to delimit each metadat
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4.13.2 Example: an ‘intelligent’ email system

Let us work through an email example of making a system ‘smarter’. We are all familiar with the standardised fields in an email system: From, To, Subject. The computer needs the To/From information, expressed in a standard format, to direct the message to its addressees and allow them to reply. It has no concept of who the sender and recipient are, or what the Subject field means. We can imagine simple knowledge-level email categories which add status information to t
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4.12.1 Communities of practice and technology

Communities of practice are technical and social networks which set the context in which new knowledge arises in daily work, and determine how it is shared and interpreted, what counts as important knowledge and how people become recognised as members of that community:

A good deal of new technology attends primarily to individuals and the explicit information that passes between them. To support the flow of knowledge,
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4.11.1 Debating and negotiating meaning

The two briefings in Boxes 4.10 and 4.11 illustrate other technological approaches to supporting socially based forms of knowledge generation, with the common theme of facilitating negotiation and debate among stakeholders. These are examples of tools which can assist communication between communities of practice as they seek to understand each other's perspectives.

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4.4.2 Mapping across multiple communities of practice

In introducing the core concepts, we highlighted the perspective that ‘what counts’ as valuable knowledge is unavoidably shaped by the communities of practice to which the ‘publisher’ and ‘consumer’ belong. One makes situated judgements regarding the relevance of a new piece of information for oneself and others, and how to store or share it appropriately. One geographical metaphor conjured up by this perspective is that of ‘islands’ of local coherence, with narrow ‘c
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4.1 Technologies and meta-knowledge

Meta-knowledge is knowledge about knowledge; for example, ‘I know that I know my age’. Meta-knowledge is crucial for managing our own learning and knowledge. For instance, I need to be able to recognise that I am lacking information before I will go and seek it out.

Not surprisingly, meta-knowledge is also crucial to organisational knowledge management. How can an organisation coordinate its activities or learn from the experiences of its members if it has no idea of what it
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3.6.1 When we just want to forget (‘we're only human’)

Group memory systems might be counterproductive if they damage morale or prevent a team from moving on after a failure. Studies of software teams show that many commercial projects are cancelled before completion. This generates an intense pressure to work as hard as possible (so that maintaining group memory falls by the wayside) and, understandably, in many cultures if a project is regarded as a failure everyone wants to forget it as quickly as possible rather than analyse it for lessons le
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3.1 A knowledge management technology framework

In the introduction to a book on knowledge management technologies, Borghoff and Pareschi (1998) described a framework for organisational memory that has been developed within Xerox to promote understanding of the roles and interplay between different technologies (Figure 4).

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2.5 Design implications

The difficulties just described have very practical implications when it comes to designing technologies. Consider the following quotations:

in selecting any representation we are in the very same act unavoidably making a set of decisions about how and what to see in the world …

a knowledge representation is a set of ontological commitments. It is unavoidably so because of the inevitable imperfections of
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the following issues, explaining in your own words, with appropriate examples:

  • the importance of representation, interpretation and formalisation in relation to ICT and managing knowledge;

  • the concept of a ‘community of practice’ in relation to ICT;

  • the main functions that ICT can play in helping to manage knowledge;

  • the potential, and pro
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1.2 The machinery of government: policy as rational planning

Much of the policy literature is imbued with a rather mechanical conception of change: ideas about ‘pulling levers’ to make things happen, or about applying different ‘tools’ or ‘instruments’, all conceive the policy system as something like a machine itself. Component parts – the government departments, regulatory bodies, delivery organisations, and even the people who staff them – are viewed as connected though static and predictable mechanisms. The system is seen as non-ada
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4.2 Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy as a concept has had an interesting career: it begins in France in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, the German state constructed by its first Chancellor, Bismarck, was a model bureaucracy in both its armed forces and civil administration. Weber (1978) realised that the creation of the modern state of Germany had only been possible because of the development of a disciplined state bureaucracy and a bureaucratised standing army – innovations pioneered in Prussia
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3.2 Institutions in flux

Although the implosion of the Soviet Union, after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has extended the flow of global capitalism, de Soto (2000) argues that the lack of capitalist institutions – and specifically legally enforceable rights to own property – has frustrated Western expectations about achieving increased prosperity through free-market economic development: ‘Ten years ago, few would have compared the former Soviet bloc nations to Latin America. But today they look as
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1.1 The wider context

This unit explores the management of local knowledge-generating practices with regard to their wider contexts. Although these local practices might be considered in terms of individuals acting and thinking as if they were autonomous, independent agents interacting with other agents, such practices are simultaneously shaped by shared skills and understandings. As Karl Marx pointed out, when the hero of Daniel Defoe's (1660–1731) novel Robinson Crusoe (Defoe, 1994, first published in 1
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5.2 An integrated perspective on relationship management: the six markets model

Christopher et al. (1991) developed a complementary model to Piercy's. Based on the idea of stakeholders, the ‘six market model’ of relationship management works equally well in either a commercial or non-profit setting. I have combined the Piercy and Christopher et al. models in the following table to illustrate some of the critical issues in the key relationships that organisations need to address.


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5.1 Managing relationships

You should now understand that markets and the customers within them are the responsibility of all managers within an organisation. An organisation needs to identify what will create extra value for its customers, and design a value-driven operating system that will concentrate all its efforts on producing it. This process of going to market involves the organisation in managing the relationships between itself and its customers and competitors, and also in the co-ordination of the organisati
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4.5 Is M&S market led?

Activity 7

Allow half an hour.

Read Case study 1 and then use the evidence there to answer the following questions.

  1. Do you think that M&S is market led?

  2. Which value dis
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4.1 Choosing customers

Think about your own organisation – or your own experiences as a customer. I'm sure you'll agree that, over the last few years, customers have become very sophisticated. They expect higher standards, lower costs, and a wide range of goods and services that are provided at their convenience. If an organisation does not provide what they want, they find one that can.

Most companies have experienced changes in their markets, such as new customer demands and expectations, and new competit
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