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Complex Adaptive System Approach: KM Model Essay

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Updated: Mar 26th, 2021

What is the major advantage of a complex adaptive system approach to a KM model?

The main advantage of a complex adaptive system is that the approach views the organization as having a symbiotic relationship with its environment. The traditional methods such as flat structures, bureaucracies and popular matrix are not able to ensure the organization has the cohesiveness, complexity and selective pressure for its survival in the market place. A complex adaptive organization consists of a number of self-organizing sub systems that interact with each other as they seek to accomplish their goals. These subsystems also adhere to the appropriate rules and procedures in their relationships with each other and the outside world. The system enables managers take advantage of people’s strengths and spurs them towards innovation, learning and quick responses to new situations while at the same time ensuring unity.

What are some of the drawbacks?

The main challenges would be on securing the cooperation and unity of the knowledge workers. The members are aware that knowledge is regarded highly however they have to share the knowledge with others for optimum organizational results. a. Provide an everyday example of requisite variety. Next, apply this to the management of knowledge in an organization. In an area such as creativity, there would need to be a network of people brainstorming on different ideas and sharing knowledge. Members should realize every person’s contribution will be highly appreciated.

What are the key elements needed in order to successfully regulate a complex adaptive system? Why?

For the system to be implemented successfully there needs to be organizational intelligence, permeable boundaries, shared purpose, knowledge centricity, selectivity, multi-dimensionality, optimum complexity and flow of information. This is because it is only the knowledge workers who can make decisions and take action. They need to be systems to share knowledge such as dynamic networks.

Link the KM frameworks to key KM concepts and the major phases of the KM cycle. The KM cycle consists of several steps. These are knowledge capture, sharing, acquisition and application. The concepts that apply in the KM cycle are several. Knowledge capture is about identifying and codification of both internal and external knowledge. Knowledge creation is on innovation or new knowledge. The knowledge is then trickled down to the members using networks. The end users should be able to get the knowledge and apply it in their work. There are several KM frameworks or models that have been highlighted since they give a holistic view of knowledge management involving people, processes, technology and organization as a whole. These are Von Krough, Nonaka and Takeuchi, Wiig, Boisot-I-Space and Choo and Weick models. The KM models assist the organization to ensure a level of completeness and depth in the practice of KM. The models give a picture of how the company is and the roadmap to use to get the organization to where it wants to be in the implementation of KM.

Other Questions

What are the three generations of knowledge management to date?

The three generations of knowledge management are the use of information technology, appreciation of the knowledge worker and information or content management in the organization.

What was the primary focus of each?

In the first generation of KM, the scholars wanted to answer the question “if only we knew what we know?” The focus was on the containers of knowledge or information technology. The companies realized that their most important product was knowledge and they needed to have an inventory of the knowledge. During this first generation, companies came up with intranets and other internal knowledge management systems. The second generation of KM focused on a different question, “if we only knew who knows what?” The focus was on people as managers realized the importance of human and cultural dimensions of KM. While the first generation had a top-down KM system the second generation had a top-down KM system.

At the time, there arose communities of practice which are grass root movements that studied the movement of knowledge throughout the organization. In the third generation of KM, the focus has been on context, narrative and content management. Experts have realized the importance of sharing context and how the end users can be aware that the context exists and how to apply it.

Compare and contrast the cognitivist and connectionist approaches to knowledge management. Cognitive approach views an organization as a self-organizing system where the humans receive information from external sources and process it. The brain accepts information and processes it in a logic manner (Dalkir, 2005, p 50). Alternative sources of information are sought through information search. The overall success of the company depends on the ability of the individual to acquire information and process it. The connectionist approach is different in that the brain does not only get information from outside but there is information that is generated internally. The information may come from the minds of the individuals and the social interactions between the individuals.

Why is the connectionist approach more suited to the von Krogh KM model?

Von Kroug approach is more suited to the connectionist approach as their theory puts forward that knowledge rests in the individual and their social relationships.

What are the strengths of this approach?

The connectionist approach is better as it appreciates the knowledge worker. It also reinforces the importance of links between the knowledge workers.

What are its weaknesses? Use examples to make your points.

The challenge in this approach is that the success of the company could be adversely affected where the mindset of individual, organizational communication and structure and management of human resources is not up to the required or appropriate standard.

What are the major taxonomic approaches to codifying knowledge that has been captured?

The major taxonomic approaches are cognitive, decision tree, manual knowledge and automated knowledge.

What sorts of criteria would help you decide which one(s) to use in a given organization?

The cognitive approach is suitable where one wants to show multiple perspectives or views of the same content. The information is represented as a node in a graph with the key relationships between the concepts explained. In the decision tree, the information is presented in a hierarchical chart or a flowchart. This approach is best for capturing procedural knowledge. The third approach is the manual knowledge approach that enables lower knowledge to incorporate attributes of higher-level content. It should be used where the managers have a lot of time to develop due to its complexity. Finally, in the automated knowledge taxonomy there is the use of statistical techniques such as cluster analysis. It should be used in an organization with a lot of legacy content.

How would you maintain such a taxonomy?

The organization should identify content owners. This will ensure that the information is kept up to date. The best people to handle the information are the information professionals. These are journalists and writers since the information may need to be reworded or restructured and these are the people with the appropriate skills set.

What are the major steps involved in developing a KM strategy? What sorts of information are needed in order to recommend a KM strategy to an organization?

Developing a KM strategy involves three steps. There should be a knowledge audit. In this process the management identifies the central information and knowledge needs of the company. Experts should define the gaps in knowledge management. The second step is gap analysis. The experts should know the difference between the organization’s existing and desired KM state. In essence what is enabling or causing a barrier in the organization towards KM implementation? The third step is developing the KM Strategy road map that usually covers a period of between 3-5 years. The management has to outline the key priorities for each year.

List the major categories of stakeholders who should be involved in the strategy formulation process. The major stakeholders that should be involved in the development of KM strategy are senior managers, human resources, information technology and major business unit managers.

What are the five major types of organizational cultures? Critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

There are organizations that have a communal culture. The advantage of this culture is that the staff has a sense of belonging and they are motivated to complete their tasks. The downside is that the leaders though inspirational and charismatic, they rarely let others speak. There are other organizations that have a networked culture. The advantage is that the members have close contact and love each other. They are like family. The disadvantage is that the closeness has made the members reluctant to engage in positive criticism to improve performance. In the mercenary culture there is a focus on the goals on hand therefore there is hardly time to engage in political cliques. The danger with this method is that the poor performance worker may be treated inhumanely. Finally in the fragmented culture, there is a focus on the individual and his task work. The disadvantage is that the sense of belonging is weak and there is lack of cooperation among the members.

How would you analyze or Identify these organizational profiles?

One identifies the culture of an organization by examining its values, artifacts and assumptions such as the beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings of the members on different issues. Artifacts consist of the company’s structures and processes. The values of the organization are the strategies, goals, philosophies and any other justifications. Where does your organization lie? I work in a communal culture organization that has a very strong sense of belonging.

When would you make use of Bloom taxonomy?

The Bloom taxonomy is great for determining the level of knowledge application. It helps determine not only what the knowledge workers are expected to do but also their level of performance

Provide examples of some knowledge applications where each of the three taxonomies could provide useful information.

The three knowledge applications under the bloom taxonomy are the Cognitive, affective and the psychomotor domain. The cognitive knowledge application would help managers know the level of knowledge, comprehension and application ability of the end user. Does the user remember information and grasp the meaning? Is he applying it in new and concrete situations by applying the set rules, concepts or principles? The affective knowledge domain assists in understanding how the user receives and responds to phenomena. What is the user’s level of awareness, willingness to hear and pay attention? The affective domain helps managers know the value that the user attaches to a particular object or phenomena, be it acceptance or a sure commitment. In the psychomotor knowledge application, the expert can use it to judge the perception, set and guided response of the members. The perception refers to the user’s ability to use cues to lead him as he carries out his work. Set refers to the readiness to act mentally, physically or emotionally. How does he respond in different situations? The guided response refers to the learning curve of an individual as he carries out his activities.

What are the key components that should be addressed by an organizational KM architecture?

The three components that should be addressed by the KM architecture are data layer, process layer and interface layer.

Why are these components critical for organizational knowledge application?

It is important to analyze all the three layers so as to understand the shared content, its distribution to members and whether it is being applied by them. The data layer refers to the database, text documents, video, audio and all storage of date. The process layer refers to the logic or procedures that link the end users to the stored data. Finally there is the user interface that provides the end users with the information asset of the company so that they can use or apply it.

What are some of the ways of assessing whether or not the culture is changing, or maturing, toward an intended end state? Provide examples.

To assess the maturity of an organization towards an intended state there are several models that are used by knowledge management experts. A model describes the stages that an organization passes through as it defines and implements changes in order to improve its processes. There are different models such as the the Paulk model that assists an expert to gauge the adoption of a new technology in the organization. The Fujitsu model indicates the cultural maturity in a particular company or organization. How persuasive or coercive is the culture? The Infosys model measures diagnosis of each of the KM cycles such as knowledge capture and knowledge sharing. The Paulzen and Perc Model allow the management to know the time when they should increase KM initiatives in the organization. The Forrester group model measures how the members acquire and model the knowledge content while the Wenger Cop model is a great indicator of the cultural evolution of the members. How is the culture changing in regards to formation of informal networks and sharing of knowledge?


Dalkir, K. (2005). Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice. Burlington: Elsever Butterworth-Heinemann.

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