Have you ever wanted to know how to manage knowledge in your company? Then, here are four approaches high-tech companies can use to exchange and share knowledge between stakeholders.

The field of knowledge management covers the creation, distribution and management of knowledge. Its  main form of exchange is through technological means such as the use of the internet, databases and email.

Nevertheless I present four different ways you can use for organizing your wealth of knowledge.

Extended libraries typically involve widespread use of technology. From the communities of open source software developers such as. Ubuntu. Extended libraries can take the form of forums where members post problems and solutions for each other in order to create an online community. They can also take the shape of databases, where it gathers information and helps people when needed.

The advantage is that individuals can benefit from each other’s knowledge on a certain issue, that inevitably leads to them being exposed to different kinds of knowledge.

One of the problems usually associated with extended libraries is that it often contains a wide range of solutions that proves to be a burden for someone searching because they can’t decide which search result is most relevant. This has happened to me when experiencing problems with Ubuntu; I would go to the forums and look for a solution – only to find that I need to go through a dozen threads to find an answer to my problem.

Communities of practice work in a similar way as extended libraries do. Although the interaction is more social than technological. The goal here is to tap into the tacit knowledge reservoir. Ideas can arise through social interactions instead of using technology. One of the challenges that are faced by managers is to try and create an atmosphere of openness, care and trust that encourages the sharing of knowledge.

Managers also need to know how to deal with a diverse working environment, as having people from different cultures can often lead to the creation of innovative ideas. With different perspective, they are able to bounce of each other’s thoughts.

The benefit gained from communities of practice is the originality of ideas and opinions from team members.

The drawback is when management fails to create an atmosphere that values sharing. Resulting in an unwillingness to speak  out and contribute. This leads to group think that can have devastating consequences. One example of group think is the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

Normative control stresses the corporate culture created by management. The idea is to establish certain values on employees. To form a common identity and create a community.

The advantage they aim for is to persuade people to define themselves in terms of the same social identity (Alvesson & Kärreman, 2001: 1006).

The goal is to break down boundaries within the organization and make people more cooperative and helpful to one another.

Enacted blueprints are computer centric. Databases are filled with templates employees can use.

They are used to elicit desired behavior from individuals. The values of the company and management have no bearing on the behavior of employees.

The advantage with enacted blueprints is that lower skilled employees can benefit from the knowledge and experience from senior figures of the organization. This approach is also based on the financial benefits of reusing the knowledge and passing it on to future employees.

However the knowledge available may at one point become outdated and rendered useless. And since there is no social component in this approach to extract tacit knowledge the pool of knowledge doesn’t get refilled.

These approaches have their pros and cons and some sound more beneficial than others. However there is not one approach that ‘s suitable for all companies. The approach to adopt completely depend in what industry you’re in. Personally I would have a mixture of communities of practice and the extended libraries. They provide more flexibility and ensure that employees remain happy and motivated.