Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title

Harnessing Knowledge Management to Build Communities – Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference on Knowledge Management and Intelligent Decision Support (ACKMIDS08)


Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Date of Presentation



The communal nature of knowledge production predicts the importance of creating learning organisations where knowledge arises out of processes that are personal, social, situated and active. It follows that workplaces must provide both formal and informal learning opportunities for interaction with ideas and among individuals. This grounded theory for developing contemporary learning organisations harvests insights from the knowledge management, systems sciences, and educational learning literatures. The resultant hybrid theoretical framework informs practical application, as reported in a case study that harnesses the accelerated information exchange possibilities enabled through web 2.0 social networking and peer production technologies. Through complementary organisational processes, 'meaning making' is negotiated in formal face-to-face meetings supplemented by informal 'boundary spanning' dialogue. The organisational capacity building potential of this participatory and inclusive approach is illustrated through the example of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in San Jose, California, USA. As an outcome of the strategic planning process at this joint city-university library, communication, decision-making, and planning structures, processes, and systems were re-invented. An enterprise- level redesign is presented, which fosters contextualising information interactions for knowledge sharing and community building. Knowledge management within this context envisions organisations as communities where knowledge, identity, and learning are situated. This framework acknowledges the social context of learning - i.e., that knowledge is acquired and understood through action, interaction, and sharing with others. It follows that social networks provide peer-to-peer enculturation through intentional exchange of tacit information made explicit. This, in turn, enables a dynamic process experienced as a continuous spiral that perpetually elevates collective understanding and enables knowledge creation.