Strategies of Knowledge Management

The ubiquity of computers, the Internet and Information Technology (IT) has created new opportunities and challenges for organizations to capture, store and deliver institutional knowledge to employees, partners and stakeholders on demand.

Jones (2010) labels the approach that organizations take to harness their informational assets as knowledge management and defines it as “a type of IT-enabled organizational relationship that has important implications for both organizational learning and decision making” (p. 346). Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) studied diverse organizations that had implemented knowledge management approaches and found that most used one or both of two strategies: codification and personalization.

The codification strategy as defined by Hansen et al. (1999) is achieved when “knowledge is carefully codified and stored in databases, where it can be easily accessed and used by anyone in the company” (p. 107). Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) cite an example of the codification strategy through what they call a “people to documents approach” (p. 108) in which personal experiences are removed from source documentation as it is entered into a database using standardized “knowledge objects” (p. 108), or templates. Ultimately, Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) suggest that the codification strategy improves efficiency by removing the need for contact with the original author and by leveraging the same content for consistent reuse.

Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) contrast the codification strategy with the personalization strategy whereby “knowledge is closely tied to the person who developed it and it is shared mainly through direct person-to-person contacts” (Hansen et al., 1999, p. 107). With the personalization strategy, the emphasis on computers is primarily in how they are used as a mechanism of building networks and facilitating communication instead of as a repository of information (Hansen et al., 1999). As Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (1999) suggest, the goal of the personalization strategy is to utilize IT to develop and maintain relationships whereby knowledge is shared between employees for education and with clients as a service.


Jones, Gareth R. (2010). Organizational theory, design and change. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Hansen, Morten T., Nohria, Nitin & Tierney, Thomas. (1999). What’s your strategy for managing knowledge? Harvard Business Review, 77 (2) 106-116.

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