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Orphan knowledge: the new challenge for knowledge management

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To date knowledge management within learning organizations has focussed upon maximizing possibilities to create knowledge while minimizing the chances of losing knowledge. However, knowledge management needs to consider a third option: dealing with orphan knowledge. There are situations where organizations forget things and repeat past mistakes. Do organizations really "unlearn" or just merely forget? In answering in the affirmative to this question, various scenarios are presented which may lead to creating orphan knowledge, knowledge forgotten, separated, or isolated within the organization. Orphan knowledge management needs to consider different knowledge types and their ease or otherwise of becoming orphaned. Orphan knowledge management should begin with a status assessment of the organization's true "knowledge position". Processes of orphan knowledge recovery or the development of strategies to minimize orphan knowledge should play a significant part in any organization's strategic knowledge management plan. Within this context the role of the chief knowledge officer is seen as an important part of this strategic knowledge management plan.

Keywords: Information; Management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2001


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