Knowledge is often defined as a belief that is true and justice. This definition has led to its measurement by methods that rely solely on the correctness of answers. A correct or incorrect answer is interpreted to mean simply that a person knows or does not know something. Such methods of measurement have serious deficiencies that can be alleviated by expanding the definition of knowledge to include the test-taker’s certainty. The person’s certainty about the answers on a test captures important, but now neglected, dimensions of knowledge. Historical roots of certainty as an essential component of knowledge, and some practical benefits of including it, are discussed.
Key words: knowledge, training, assessment, dynamic entity, economics, strategy, competition, institutionalized theorizing.
The different terms and differentiations that knowledge management literature has provided in the conceptualization of knowledge have been presented. Knowledge is in people’s heads, it differs from information or data, it is individual, and in some instances it can be made public or shared as information. In addition, the difference between various types of knowledge has been explained in terms of content. Andreessen (2006, p. 97) identifies six different metaphors in his analysis of the treatment of knowledge in key publications of the knowledge management field: knowledge as something physical, as a wave, as a living organism, as thought and feelings, as a process and as a structure.
In the present work, knowledge is understood both as the structure and the content of the mental schemas. Therefore, this study could be said to use knowledge as “something physical” and “as a structure” as defined by Andreessen. It also includes the idea of knowledge as feelings since the schemas have important emotional components.
Further, it includes knowledge as a process, as a wave and as a living organism, since these three elements refer to the idea that knowledge is in a constant dialectic process with the reality it represents. The frame and the content are reinforced or change in each action that we perform. It is through action that we test our schema in the real world. This action will inform us about the schema that in turn will or will not change. In this way, action develops our knowledge, and knowledge is therefore a dynamic entity.
Knowledge as a static entity never changes. The positivistic view of science maintains that scientific inquiry looks for objective and universal knowledge, what traditionally has been called Truth with a capital T. However, post-positivistic views criticize the idea of a universal truth and propose the existence of different truths. Thus there will not be a unique, invariant knowledge but different types of knowledge viewed from different perspectives.
In the management literature, as Demarest (1997, p. 375) has pointed out, interest is focused on commercial knowledge, as in the following:
The goal of commercial knowledge is not truth, but effective performance: not ‘what is right’ but ‘what works’ or even ‘what works better’ where better is defined in competitive and financial contexts.
In a similar vein, Spender (2002, p. 151) has indicated that:
We need to keep a careful eye on the utility of theorizing [about knowledge], whether our conclusions can ever be reattached to our discipline’s established empirical work in economics, strategy, competition, institutionalized theorizing, management and so forth.
The dynamic feature of knowledge is thus related to the idea that knowledge must be translated into and associated with action (Blacker, 1995; Hunt, 2003; Elkjaer, 2003). Further, the action uses knowledge but does not “consume” the knowledge that can be re-used in its modified form. Thus it is important to mention that “knowledge is not ‘consumed’ in a process, it sometimes increases through use” (Wiig et al. 1997, p. 16, emphasis added; Halal, 1998, p. 13). Through this process of adaptation, or equilibrium in Piaget’s terms, knowledge, action and learning are closely linked together.
To conclude, it is important to note that knowledge is related to learning. The act of learning provides knowledge and understanding, which in turn feed further learning”. As has been already argued, learning can be regarded as the adaptation of mental structures to the specific realities that an individual confronts. Knowledge, understood both as content and as schema, will therefore be constructed during this process of adaptation through its interaction with the environment. When we are presented with data (facts, impressions), we will examine that specific information (which has some meaning and structure for us) with the knowledge that we already have. In fact, the previous knowledge will guide the type of data that we seek, or beyond that, the information we seek and are capable of understanding. If that specific information content (either know-what, why, how or who) appears in adequate conditions of motivation, interest and attention, the content will be “absorbed” into the mental model (or theory) that we are applying to that specific context. The new content might not produce much change in the structure of the mental model (alpha answer), it might produce partial modification (beta answer) or it might result in a critical modification (gamma answer, significant learning or conceptual change). These changes in our schema constitute, in fact, learning. Figure 3 shows that learning is the process of transforming data into knowledge, making something public (information) into something private (knowledge).
The process of transforming knowledge into data is the process of teaching, understood broadly. The information that starts the process of learning is usually the articulation of someone’s knowledge that served to codify and externalize her/his knowledge. If the students (or any listener or reader) incorporate the data that has been externalized, then there is learning.
Finally, it is important to mention that knowledge might be acquired through different means. Knowledge is not only created through theoretical means (such as reading or analyzing information); learning also occurs by doing. Thus when we act, our acts “teach” us, providing us with information on our performance. This process of learning is not necessarily a conscious one, and can occur implicitly without the individual realizing it; in this way we acquire tacit knowledge.
To sum up, this paper on the conceptualization of knowledge considers learning and knowledge to be totally interrelated, since learning is the process of creating knowledge and knowledge guides the process of learning. Learning occurs constantly and throughout the entire life span, this is it is a lifelong, life-wide process.
It is clear that knowledge and learning are complex concepts that are difficult to define. The above discussion tries to clarify them and present some relationships between knowledge and other related constructs, but it cannot be seen as a comprehensive review of the conceptualization of knowledge.
The paper has presented the differentiation between knowledge and other related terms such as information, data or expertise. In addition, the distinction tacit vs. explicit is crucial in order to make the right decision when managing knowledge. Depending on the knowledge necessary for the specific activity of the company, some knowledge will have to be emphasized. Tacit knowledge is crucial for Small and Medium Enterprises that rely heavily on the knowledge of their employees and that do not usually have very formalized systems for knowledge management. On the other hand, bigger companies might have more formalized knowledge management systems, and might not need to rely as much on the tacit knowledge of their employees, but on information.
Thus, in terms of the promotion of innovation, understanding the nature of knowledge and its differences with other related terms is crucial in order to make right decisions in a highly competitive knowledge economy. This also calls for understanding the process of learning and as a consequence the process of teaching. If learning is meant to occur as a lifelong, life-wide process, teaching and learning are necessarily interconnected outside formal institutions. dynamic entity.
Might be of interest for the business community in order to make their workforce more adaptable and able to learn.
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