Functions of Knowledge Management



We can divide all the functions performed by KM in five main categories:

  1. Intermediation: Intermediation refers to the brokering or knowledge transfer between an appropriate knowledge provider and knowledge seeker. Its role is to "match" a knowledge seeker with the optimal source of knowledge for that seeker. By doing so, intermediation ensures a much more efficient transfer of knowledge.
  2. Externalization: Externalization refers to the transfer of knowledge from the minds of its holders into an external repository, in the most efficient way possible. The function of externalization is to provide the sharing of knowledge. This is where Competitive Intelligence/Business Intelligence comes in. Through KM tools it is possible to track the vast quantity of data about competitors — from news stories to price changes.
  3. Internalization: Internalization is the extraction of knowledge from the external repository, and the filtering of this knowledge to provide greater relevance to the knowledge seeker. Knowledge should be presented to the user in the form most suitable to its comprehension. This, this function may include interpretation and/or reformatting of the presentation of the knowledge. To implement this function, companies can build yellow pages thus mapping and categorizing the skills and work experience of the organization. Another aspect of internalization would be the documentation of best practices.
  4. Cognition: Cognition is the function of systems to make decisions based on available knowledge. Cognition is the application of knowledge which has been exchanged through the preceding three functions.
  5. Measurement: Measurement refers to all KM activities that measure, map and quantify corporate knowledge and the performance of KM solutions. This function acts to support the other four functions, rather than to actually manage the knowledge itself.


These macro KM functions are combinations of many atomic functions, namely those of:

    • finding, mapping, gathering, and filtering information;
    • developing new knowledge (identifying relations among items and sharing information);
    • converting personal knowledge into shared knowledge resources;
    • understanding and learning;
    • adding value to information to create knowledge;
    • enabling action through knowledge (performance and management);
    • processing shared knowledge resources; delivering (transferring) explicit knowledge;
    • building adequate technical infrastructures.