BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Shared knowledge and performance have been relevant in four epochs namely the era of early influences, the era of the industrial revolution, the era of scientific management movement and the modern era. Many records and ideas relating to management date from antiquity. Among these are the records of the Egyptians, the early Greeks, and the ancient Romans. In addition, there have been the experience and administrative practices of the Catholic Church, military organizations, and the cameralists of the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Interpretation of early Egyptian papyri, extending as far back as 1300 B.C., indicate the recognition of the importance of organization (Koontz, O’donnel and Weirich, 2000:34).
The Industrial Revolution in Europe was the transitory phase from the manufacturing or putting-out system to the factory system. The present thesis will attempt to show that management was relevant during the three epochs of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, United States of America and Japan and so it was more of a Management Revolution than an Industrial Revolution (Berliner, 2003:5). Although Frederick Taylor, who did his work in the early years of the twentieth century, is usually called the father of scientific management, many persons before Taylor considerable contributions to the development of management thought (Koontz, O’donnel and Weirich, 2000:34).
Knowledge management is a relatively new discipline and therefore has a short history. As a conscious discipline, it developed from the various published work of academics and pioneers such as Peter Drucker in the 1970s, Karl-Erik Sveiby in the late 1980s, and Nonaka and Takeuchi in the 1990s. It began when the concept of a “knowledge company” was introduced in published literature (Uriarte, 2008:32-38)
In the 1970s, there was increasing use of information and this led to an increase in the performance of the workers. Both implicit and explicit knowledge were relevant as valuable assets of organizations. Most organizations became learning organizations and emphasized the cultural dimension of managing knowledge. Management of knowledge became very relevant. Knowledge was seen as specialized information and information was seen as processed data and the output of the statistical system, the data processing system and the integrated computer system. Information became a very important resource which needed to be integrated with such other resources as the human resource, materials, money, time, energy, knowledge, and infrastructure. These resources when processed would lead to an improvement in the performance of the brewing staff as the output.
This growing recognition of the importance of organizational knowledge led to an increasing concern over how to deal with exponential increases in the amount of available knowledge and the complexity of products and processes. It was at this point that the computer technology, which in the first place contributed heavily to the great abundance of information, started to become part of the solution in a variety of ways.
Two examples of technology solutions that were available for use in early knowledge management systems can be cited.