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Knowledge Management and Leadership Opportunities for Technical Communicators

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Over the past several years, organizations have devoted increasing amounts of attention to a phenomenon called “knowledge management.” Despite its growing visibility, knowledge management nonetheless suffers from a multitude of definitions with little apparent consistency. In this article, I outline four of the most common definitions of knowledge management. I unify these definitions by explaining them as four points along a continuum of increasing depth and complexity. After outlining knowledge management in this manner, I explain how technical communicators usually play supporting roles, not leadership roles, in knowledge management efforts. I then argue that to overcome this challenge, technical communicators must carefully re-think how they define knowledge management, technical communication, and themselves as professionals. I further argue that technical communicators should define themselves not by the products they produce but by the “core competencies” with which they produce them. I then conclude the article by adding that although these competencies serve vital priorities of knowledge management, technical communicators must broaden their technological knowledge base to establish themselves as leaders in knowledge management.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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