Mise à jour de la page : 29-07-2007)

© copyright 1998-2007, Michel Grundstein

Retour à


MGKME should be seen as an empirical model (Ref. Figure 1). It materializes a synthesis vision of our researches standing against more than twenty years experience in the KM field. It suggests a sociotechnical approach defined as “the study of the relationships and interrelationships between the social and technical parts of any system” [12] (p. 5).

The MGKME ’s Underlying Elements
u The Sociotechnical Environment
 The Value-adding processes

The MGKME’s Operating elements
w  The Managerial Guiding Principles
 The Relevant Infrastructures
 The Generic KM Processes
z The Organizational Learning Processes
{ The Methods and supporting tools for KM

The Enterprise’s KM Maturity levels





Figure 1 Model for Global Knowledge Management Within the Enterprise (MGKME)

Début de page

MGKME is composed of two main categories of elements: (I) the underlying elements consist of sociotechnical environment, and value-adding processes; (II) the operating elements focus on the underlying elements. They consist of managerial guiding principles, ad hoc infrastructures, generic KM processes, organizational learning processes, and methods and supporting tools.

The MGKME ’s Underlying Elements

The core knowledge is embodied in people heads and their abilities to utilize them, and to generate new knowledge at the same time. The information technologies and the tangible technical resources enhance their competence, while value-adding processes and organizational infrastructures are structuring their activities. Nevertheless, their social interactions [13], supported by ICT tools are essential factors, which leverage their potentialities, and that actually enable them to achieve effective results. Therefore, from our perspective, sociotechnical environment, and value-adding processes are fundamental elements that constitute the underlying elements of MGKME. These elements are described hereafter.

u The Sociotechnical Environment

The Sociotechnical Environment constitutes the social fabric where autonomous individuals supported by ICT and tangible resources interact and are conversing through physical or virtual places (coffee machines, collaborative work spaces, weblogs, wikis, CoPs). Interacting is not enough. Thus, Stewart [14] observed what happen when interacting without conversing. He states “Stories are not told and associated sense of adventure is lost; knowing is not shared because questioning is not fostered; people become isolated, angry, resentful and do what they do with no real joy; while a business may be profitable it is likely that it is not operating at anywhere near its potential” (p. 17).

The sociotechnical approach leads to emphasizing the link between knowing and action, with due regard to the basic constraints of the social system that is to give a sense to working time. Thus, KM initiative should result in KMS components that takes into account the individuals, both as components and users of a system that allows them to be autonomous and to achieve their potentialities.

 The Value-adding processes

Value-adding processes represent the organizational context for which knowledge is essential factors of performance. It is in this context that is implanted a KM initiative. As pointed out by Tonchia and Tramontano [15]: “Process Management, with the concepts of internal customers and process ownership, is becoming one of the most important competitive weapons for firms and can determine a strategic change in the way business is carried out.” These authors specify that: “Process Management consists in the rationalization of processes, the quest for efficiency/effectiveness, a sort of simplification/ clarification brought about by common-sense engineering” (p. 20). As Process Management engenders structural changes, when doing Business Process Reengineering we should consider KM activities in order to identify knowledge that is essential factor to enable value-adding processes to achieve their goals efficiently.

Début de page

The MGKME’s Operating elements

The operating elements of the MGKME focus on the underlying elements. They consist of managerial guiding principles, relevant infrastructures, generic KM processes, organizational learning processes, and methods and supporting tools.

w The Managerial Guiding Principles

The Managerial Guiding Principles should bring a vision aligned with the enterprise’s strategic orientations, and should suggest a KM Governance principles by analogy with COBIT® [16].

In particular, KM indicators must be established. Numerous publications and books relates to that subject. From our viewpoint, two main categories of indicators should be constructed in order to monitor a KM initiative: (i) a category of indicators that focus on the impacts of the initiative favoring enhancement of intellectual capital; (ii) a category of indicators that insure monitoring and coordination of KM activities, measuring the results, and insuring the relevance of the initiative.

In addition, we should find a way to get a good articulation between the Deming’s cycle and Organizational learning (Ref. Figure 2). Firstly, we refer to the PDCA cycle of activities – plan, do, check, and act [17] (p. 207). This cycle, first advocated by Deming, is well known as the Deming’s Cycle by Quality Management practitioners. The PDCA cycle has inspired the ISO 9004 (2000) Quality Standards in order to get a continuous process improvement of the Quality Management System. Secondly, we refer to the Single-Loop Learning and Double-Loop Learning defined in the Argyris & Schön 's organizational learning theory [18]. Thus, we point out the key contribution of Knowledge Management to Change 2 defined by Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch [19].

Figure 2: Articulation between Deming’s cycle and Argyris & Schön’s Organizational learning

Début de page

 The Relevant Infrastructures

The Relevant infrastructures are adapted sets of devices and means for action. Beyond a network that favors cooperative work, it is important to implement the conditions that will allow sharing and creating knowledge. An ad hoc infrastructure must be set up according to the specific situation of each company, and the context of the envisaged KM initiative. This infrastructure could be inspired by the Japanese concept of Ba that “can be thought as a shared space for emerging relationships” [20] (p. 40).

Ba can inspire infrastructures that bring the dynamism to continually create new knowledge through a cycle of converting tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and then reconverting it into tacit knowledge.

 The Generic KM Processes

The generic KM processes answer the problem of capitalizing on company’s knowledge defined in the following way [21]: 

“Capitalizing on company’s knowledge means considering certain knowledge used and produced by the company as a storehouse of riches and drawing from these riches interest that contrib­utes to increasing the company's capital” (p. 263).

Several problems co-exist. They are recurring problems with which the company was always confronted. These problems constitute a general problematic that has been organized in five categories.  Each of these categories contains sub-processes that are aimed to contribute a solution to the set of overall problems. Thus, we have identified four Generic KM Processes corresponding to the resolution of these categories of problems (Ref. Figure 3). These processes are described below.

The Locating Process deals with the location of Crucial Knowledge, that is, Knowledge (explicit or tacit) that is essential for decision-making processes and for the progress of the value-adding processes. It is necessary to identify it, to locate it, to characterize it, to make cartographies of it, to estimate its economic value, and to classify it. One can mentioned an approach named GAMETHÒ [22] specifically aimed to support this process.

Figure 3: The Generic KM Processes

The Preserving Process deals with the preservation of know-how and skills: when knowledge can be put into words, it is necessary to acquire it with the bearers of knowledge, to represent it, to formalize it, and to conserve it. This leads to Knowledge Engineering activities that are notably described in Schreiber et al [23]. When knowledge cannot be put into words, then interactions through communities of practice or other types of networks must be encouraged.

The Enhancing Process deals with the added-value of know-how and skills: it is necessary to make them accessible according to certain rules of confidentiality and safety, to disseminate them, to share them, to use them more effectively, to combine them, and to create new knowledge. Here is the link with innovation processes.

The Actualizing process deals with the actualization of know-how and skills: it is necessary to appraise them, to update them, to standardize them and to enrich them according to the returns of experiments, the creation of new knowledge, and the contribution of external knowledge. Here is the link with business intelligence processes.

Début de page

z The Organizational Learning Processes

The Organizational learning processes underlay the whole Generic KM processes. The aim of the organizational learning process is to increase individual knowledge, to reinforce competencies, and to convert them into a collective knowledge through interactions, dialogue, discussions, exchange of experience, and observation. The main objective consists in fighting against the defensive routines that make barriers to training and change. So, it is a question of helping the members of the organization to change their way of thinking by facilitating an apprenticeship of a constructive way of reasoning instead of a defensive one.

{ The Methods and supporting tools for KM

The methods and supporting tools relevant for KM can be determined only when considering the enterprise context and the envisaged KM initiative. One can find the descriptions and the characteristics of technologies, methods and supporting tools relevant for KM in many publications.

Among all these tools, the information and applications Portal, that supplies a global access to the information, can meet the needs of KM. Actually, as mentioned by Grundstein and Rosenthal-Sabroux [24]: “(Employees) become decision-makers who use and produce more and more knowledge as a basis for their efficiency… Commonly pointed out as « Knowledge Workers», (they) have to access Knowledge and Skills widely distributed in the global and influence spaces of their organization… The computerized workstation becomes a window opened on the company’s planetary space of activities” (p. 979). As a result, the information and application portals have become essential for the knowledge workers who have to share with colleagues disseminated all around the world.

In that case, the digital information system integrates the functional software and the tools answering the ends of KM.  Consequently, the conception of the digital information system has to take into account the nature of the information that the individual, as a decision-maker, must be able to access. Thus, one must distinguish three natures of information: the Mainstream-Data, the Source-of-Knowledge-Data, and the Shared-Data [24].

Début de page


One can consider MGKME as an ideal status to reach. We expect that it will serve as a pattern of reference to enable assessing the Enterprises’ KM Maturity level, and adapting their KM programs.

For example, let consider an instantiation of MGKME into a KMS (Ref. Figure 4).

Figure 4: Enterprise’s Knowledge Management System Components

Identifying the KMS components included into the MGKME elements enable to measure the status of the knowledge management system within the enterprise. This status combined with the characteristics of the IT Governance Maturity Model suggested in COBIT [16] (p. 166), enable to assess the Enterprise’s KM Maturity level (Ref. Table 1).

  Début de page

Table 1: The Enterprise’s KM Maturity levels

Maturity levels



Level 0


There is a total absence of recognizable Knowledge Management System. The company did not become aware that Knowledge Management must be studied and be considered.

Level 1

Initial/Ad hoc

The company became aware of the importance of Knowledge Management. However, she has no global vision.

There are no standardized processes but approaches in this sense tend to be applied on an individual basis.

The implementation of Knowledge Management System or one of its components is not organized.

Level 2

Repeatable but intuitive

Knowledge Management System is badly identified and is characterized by a partial implementation of the MGKME’s elements.

The processes are developed until the stage where different persons executing the same task use similar procedures.

There is no formal training or no communication of standard procedures, and responsibility is left with the individual. One rests a lot on individual knowledge increasing so the probability to make errors.

Level 3

Defined Process

Knowledge Management System is well identified and is characterized by a partial implementation of the MGKME’s elements.

Procedures were standardized, informed and communicated by way of sessions of training. However, their use is left with the initiative of each, and it is likely that abnormalities will be noticed.

Procedures are not sophisticated but formalize existing practices.

Level 4

 Managed and Measurable

Knowledge Management System is well identified and is characterized by a partial implementation of the MGKME’s elements.

It is possible to control and to measure correspondence to procedures, and to act when processes seem not to work correctly.

Processes are in constant improvement and correspond to a good practice.

The automation and the use of tools are made in a limited or partial way.

Level 5


Knowledge Management System is well identified and is characterized by a total implementation of the MGKME’s elements.

Processes reached the level of the best practices, further to a constant improvement and to a comparison with the other companies.

Début de page


From our viewpoint, our world is fundamentally a sociotechnical world that is a world deeply characterized by human and technological interactions. These interactions drastically affect people relationships with space and time. Therefore, if we considered that the core knowledge is embodied in people’s heads and their abilities to utilize them, and to generate new knowledge at the same time, we cannot speak about KM without taking into account these interactions. In this way, beyond the economic, organizational, cultural, and technological dimensions, the specific sociotechnical context characterizes every KM initiatives in which they are developed. Mostly spread, the technological approach of KMS leads to ignore this essential factor linked to the notion of sociotechnical environment. To avoid this risk, we have introduced our own experience and research by proposing an empirical Model for Global Knowledge Management within the Enterprise (MGKME). MGKME rests on a global vision of KM that leads to a sociotechnical approach that highlights two levels of elements: underlying elements, and operating elements. We expect that MGKME will helps to stress the need of integrating sociotechnical environment as a component of an Enterprise’s Knowledge Management System. Moreover, we think that it can help to assess the Enterprise’s KM Maturity level.


[01] Grundstein, M. & Rosenthal-Sabroux, C. (2005). Towards a Model for Global Knowledge Management Within the Enterprise (MGKME). In M. Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Managing Modern Organizations with Information Technology, (IRMA05 Proceedings pp. 1259-1262). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

[02] CEN-1 (2004). Knowledge Management Framework. In European Guide to Good Practice in Knowledge Management (Part 1). Brussels: CEN, CWA 14924-1:2004 (E). Retrieved June 19, 2004, from ftp://cenftp1.cenorm.be/PUBLIC/CWAs/e-Europe/KM/CWA14924-01-2004-Mar.pdf

[03] Wiig, K. (2004). People-Focused Knowledge Management. How Effective Decision Making Leads to Corporate Success. Burlington, MA: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

[04] De Rosnay, J. (1975). Le macroscope. Vers une vision globale. Paris : Éditions du Seuil.

[05] Raman, M., Ryan, T., & Olfam, L. (2006). Knowledge Management Systems for Emergency Preparedness: The Claremont University Consortium Experience. International Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol.2 No.3, pp. 33-50. Hershey PA: Idea Group Publishing.

[06] Alavi, M., & Leidner, D.E. (2001). Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management systems: Conceptual foundations and research issue. MIS Quaterly, 25(1), 107-136.

[07] Gupta, J.D., & Sharma, S.K. (2004). Creating knowledge based organizations. Hershey, PA: Idea Group.

[08] Davenport, T.H. & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge. How Organizations Manage What They Know. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

[09] Polanyi, M. (1966). The tacit dimension. London: Routledge &Kegan Paul Ltd.

[10] Nelson, R.R. & Winter, S.G. (1982): An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,.

[11] Tsuchiya, S. (1993). Improving Knowledge Creation Ability through Organizational Learning.  In ISMICK'93 Proceedings, International Symposium on the Management of Industrial and Corporate Knowledge (pp. 87-95). Compiègne, France: University of Compiègne.

[12] Coakes, E. (2002). Knowledge Management: A Sociotechnical Perspective. In E. Cokes, D. Willis & S. Clarke (Eds), Knowledge Management in the Sociotechnical World (Chapter 2, pp.4-14). London, Springer-Verlag.

[13] Cohen, D., & Prusak, L. (2001). In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work. Harvard Business School Publishing.

[14] Stewart, A. (2001). The Conversing Company, its culture, power and potential. Retrieved June 2004, from http://www.knowledgeboard.com/download/3343/conversing-company.pdf

[15] Tonchia, S., & Tramontano, A. (2004). Process Management for the Extended Enterprise. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

[16] COBIT® (2005). Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. Control Objectives, Management Guidelines, Maturity Models, (4th Edition). Rolling Meadows Illinois: IT Governance Institute.

[17] Martin, J. (1995). The Great Transition. Using the Seven Disciplines of Enterprise Engineering to Align People, Technology, and Strategy. New York, NY: AMACOM, a division of American Management Association.

[18] Argyris, C. & Schön, D.A. (1996). Organizational Learning II. Theory, Method, and Practice. Readings, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

[19] Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J., & Fisch, R. (1975). Changements : paradoxes et psychothérapie. Paris: Éditions du Seuil. (Original title: Change. Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution).

[20] Nonaka &Kono (1998)

[21] Grundstein, M. (2000). From capitalizing on Company’s Knowledge to Knowledge Management.  In D. Morey, M. Maybury, & B. Thuraisingham (Eds), Knowledge Management, Classic and Contemporary Works (chapter 12, pp. 261-287). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

[22] Grundstein, M., & Rosenthal-Sabroux, C. (2004). GAMETH®, A Decision Support Approach to Identify and Locate Potential Crucial Knowledge. In D. Remenyi (Ed.), Proceedings 5th European Conference on Knowledge Management (pp. 391 – 402). Reading, UK: Academic Conferences Limited.

[23] Schreiber, A.Th., Akkermans, J.M., Anjewierden, A.A., de Hoog, R., Shadbolt, N.R., Van de Velde, W., & Wielinga, B.J. (2000). Knowledge Engineering and Management. The CommonKADS Methodology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

[24] Grundstein, M., & Rosenthal-Sabroux, C. (2003).  Three Types of Data For Extended Company’s Employees: A Knowledge Management Viewpoint. In M. Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Information Technology and Organizations: Trends, Issues, Challenges and Solutions, 2003 IRMA Proceedings (pp. 979-983). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

[25] Jennex, M. E. (2006). Editorial Preface: Establishing the Foundations of the Knowledge Management Discipline. International Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol.2 No.3, pp. i-iii. Hershey PA: Idea Group Publishing.

Début de page

© copyright 1998-2007, Michel Grundstein