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30/10/2014 20:12:37
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Knowledge Economy

Today we live in a global knowledge economy which  means that wealth generation is predominantly based on knowledge based activities. As a consequence business success is critically dependent on the capabilities enterprises have to protect, develop and utilise their knowledge-or in other words business success is dependent on a company’s knowledge management capability.

 

The emergences of a global knowledge economy and associated demands on business strategy have been well understood since the 1980’s when the concepts and strategies associated with the learning organisation became popular. Then, the message was that "The emergence of a knowledge based economy requires a new synthesis of training, education and other forms of communication and learning under the single umbrella of the learning enterprise" [L T Perelman 84].

The learning enterprise was also seen as an intelligent enterprise capable of managing well knowledge based activities which were shown to be the key to productivity and wealth generation in over ¾ of all economic activity [Services restructure the economy - J B Quinn 92].

The theme, “Competitiveness through Enterprise Knowledge Development” which became prevalent throughout the early 1990s contains  two basic questions - What? and How?

a)      What are the new sources of competitive advantage and the new competitive strategies?

b)      How can business processes be developed to implement successfully knowledge oriented strategies?

Answers on what were found on Customer Focus, acknowledged as the most important source of competitive advantage. It was often said that for companies to compete in the coming decades they must increase customer value by producing products that are of consistently high quality throughout the product’s life, customised to local market needs, open to facilitate integration with other products, environmentally friendly and technically advanced.

Popular theories of how this was to be done pointed to business process management implementing customer focus based strategies possibly as part of Total Quality Management. In this context organisational quality was defined as “the totality of features and characteristics of an organisation that bear on it’s ability to provide, on a sustainable basis, client satisfaction”. [ P.C.K. O’Ferrall 95]. In a quality oriented customer focus strategy, appropriate processes are designed and continuously improved with respect to time to market and other critical success factors. Such continuous improvement  use the basic evaluation and traceability concepts and techniques from the quality system. However, the need for rapid adaptation or what could be simply described as “faster improvement” creates demands for new approaches such as the learning organisation. By defining organisational learning as “the intentional use of learning processes at the individual, group and system level to continuously transform the organisation in a direction that is increasingly satisfying to it’s mission and strategies” the need to do what most successful companies have been doing for years in a more efficient and effective manner was labelled knowledge management.

 

In the second half of the 1990’s, the ‘knowledge economy’ and the ‘information society’ became recognised as the cornerstones of the global economy. A world development report in 1998 stated that “for countries in the vanguard of the world economy, the balance between knowledge and resources has shifted so far towards the former that knowledge has become perhaps the most important factor determining the standard of living- more than lands, tools and labour”.

 

More recently, the World Bank’s prospective document for Knowledge Assessment suggests the importance for countries to analyse their capabilities for participating in the knowledge revolution. United Nation member states are undergoing fundamental changes with important implications for how knowledge assets are acquired, sourced, created and utilised. Similar considerations are applicable at the enterprise level and many leading organisations and business networks have been increasingly investing in knowledge management. Both at a national and enterprise level, knowledge assets represent the foundation of competencies and capabilities that are deemed essential for growth, competitive advantage, human capital development and quality of life. 




   
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