(Vol.2 Nos. 3 and 4)

  Special Issue on Knowledge Management and Organizational Memory

Guest Editors:
Andreas Abecker, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Kaiserslautern, Germany
Stefan Decker, Stanford University Database Group, Stanford University, USA
Frank Maurer, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

1. Andreas Abecker, Ansgar Bernardi, Knut Hinkelmann, Otto Kühn, Michael Sintek, "Context-Aware, Proactive Delivery
of Task-Specific Knowledge: The KnowMore Project"
2. Mark S. Ackerman, David W. McDonald, "Collaborative Support for Informal Information in Collective Memory
3. Klaus-Dieter Althoff, Frank Bomarius, Carsten Tautz, "Knowledge Management for Building Learning Software
4. Alaina G. Kanfer, Bertram C. Bruce, Caroline Haythornthwaite, Nicholas Burbules, James Wade, Geoffrey C. Bowker,
Joseph Porac, "Modelling Distributed Knowledge Processes in Next Generation Multidisciplinary Alliances"
5. Franz Lehner, Ronald K. Maier, "How Can Organizational Memory Theories Contribute to Organizational Memory
6. Simon Masterton, Stuart Watt, "Oracles, Bards, and Village Gossips, or, Social Roles and Meta Knowledge

Guest Editorial

Andreas Abecker, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany
Stefan Decker, Stanford University Database Group, USA
Frank Maurer, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The companies of the future will live in an environment where markets are continuously shifting, technology proliferating, competitors multiplying, and products become obsolete overnight. In the currently emerging knowledge society, knowledge is seen as the most important success factor. Similar to the significance of technologies and mechanical machines during the industrial revolution, the continuous creation and renewal of innovative ideas, as well as the management of existing bodies of tacit and exlicit knowledge will play the pivotal role in the future's businesses. The creation and acquisition of knowledge as well as its efficient utilization will be the most decisive factors for maintaining or achieving the leading edge in successful markets.

The term Knowledge Management (KM) has been coined and rapidly adopted in the Business and Organization Sciences as a new endeavor to bundle in a holistic manner formerly isolated efforts, to revitalize partial approaches interdisciplinarily, and to exploit in a creative, yet practically oriented way the exciting potentials of emerging new technologies in the Internet age. The roots of KM can be identified in research areas such as Organization Science, Social and Organizational Psychology, Human Resource Management, Computer-Supported Collaborative Work, Intelligent Information Systems, and Artificial Intelligence. A holistic approach to KM solutions will always consider a tuned interaction of management activities concerning people, processes, and technology. Here, innovative technology is usually seen as the enabling factor which caused a new enthusiasm for aims which were already addressed many years ago---with more or less success---under labels like Organizational Intelligence, Learning Organizations, or Organizational Memory. On the other hand, it is clear now without any doubts that KM in total must care about all three factors above, because technology alone will never work without careful examination of the social and organizational factors around. There are even succesful and important KM initiatives which can live completely without the use of extraordinary technological support.
In this Special Issue on Knowledge Management and Organizational Memory (which is an important technological tool to support effective KM) we will try to challenge the IT community to approach today’s Information Systems Frontiers a few steps further, driven by the requirements and approaches of Knowledge Management.
To this end, we present three papers (the ones by Lehner & Maier, by Masterton & Watt, and by Kanfer, Bruce, Haythornthwaite, Burbules, Wade, Bowker & Porac) which enlighten the theoretical, historical, and methodological background for Knowledge Management and Organizational Memory Information Systems, thus giving the holistic and interdisciplinary perspective, framework, and requirements.
Further, we have two contributions presenting innovative software solutions which go well beyond contemporary standard information systems. Motivated by a serious interpretation of the term Knowledge Management, Ackerman & McDonald report on their work underlying the seminal AnswerGarden system which aims at capturing the informal knowledge embedded in a company’s inofficial communication and collaboration flows. Based upon a careful analysis of the word Organizational Memory, Abecker, Bernardi, Hinkelmann, Kühn & Sintek describe their KnowMore system which combines Workflow technology and Artificial Intelligence in order to offer proactive and context-sensitive information assistance to the user.

Last but not least, the paper by Althoff, Bomarius & Tautz shows that KM activities cannot be seen in isolation from the application domain they are located  in, but must be embedded in and can profit from mature methods and stable knowledge already gathered about the world where KM solutions shall be deployed.

This Special Issue’s contributions in alphabetical order of the first authors:

Business-Process Oriented Knowledge Management: Abecker et al.

A system prototype is described which couples an active information assistant and a workflow engine in order to proactively present context-sensitively selected information sources to a user accomplishing knowledge-intensive tasks in a business process.

From Collaboration Support to Collective Memory: Ackerman & McDonald

The authors present two systems for incorporating communication flows among people into an organizational memory framework, and for distilling and refining the informal information obtained through such communication flows. They report on the AnswerGarden 2 application which was built using these two systems.

Knowledge Management for Learning Software Organizations: Althoff, Bomarius & Tautz

The paper combines knowledge management technology, in particular case-based reasoning systems, and mature approaches from Software Engineering, like the Experience Factory model, to provide support for the creation of learning software organizations.

Modelling Distributed Knowledge Processes in Next Generation Multidisciplinary Alliances: Kanfer et al.

A new model for understanding knowledge sharing in distributed knowledge processes is proposed and applied to examine the tension between embedded and mobile knowledge in distributed, multidisciplinary scientific teams in the National Computational Science Alliance, which can be seen as a prototypical next generation virtual knowledge-based enterprise.

Influence of OM Theories on OM Systems: Lehner & Maier

On the ground of a comprehensive review of interdisciplinary contributions to a theory of Organizational Memory, which takes into account influences from organization science, psychology, sociology, and artificial intelligence, the authors draw conclusions for the development of OM Information Systems which are different from traditional software development perspectives. These conclusions lead to research questions to be addressed in the future.

Social Roles and Meta Knowledge Management: Masterton & Watt

Starting with an analysis of common problems of knowledge management systems in practice, the paper adapts models and theories from social and organisational psychology as well as CSCW in order to obtain practical lessons and a new framework to help designing future knowledge management systems which will be accepted by their intended users.

All papers considered for publication in this special issue have been carefully reviewed by at least three acknowledged IT experts working in areas such as Groupware, Knowledge-Based Systems, Software Engineering, Database Systems, Business Informatics, Workflow, and Information Systems. We gratefully acknowledge the work of our reviewers: Klaus-Dieter Althoff, Richard Bentley, Frank Bomarius, Uwe M. Borghoff, Simon Buckingham Shum, Stefan Decker, Vladan Devedzic, John Domingue, Dieter Landes, David W. McDonald, Patrizia Marti, Frank Maurer, Peter Mertens, Andreas Oberweis, Mark Perry, Jean-Pierre Poitou, Duska Rosenberg, and Rudi Studer.