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Evaluating a living model of knowledge

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conference contribution
posted on 2009-09-14, 14:26 authored by Paul Parboteeah, Tom JacksonTom Jackson, Gillian Ragsdell
The definition of knowledge has always been a contentious issue in knowledge management. Effective knowledge management requires a definition of knowledge that is consistent, useful and true. Whilst most definitions today fulfil the first two criteria, none accurately address all three, including the true, biological nature of knowledge. This is where autopoiesis can help. Autopoiesis was developed to try answer the question of what makes something living, using a scientific methodology. It proposes living things are discrete, self-producing entities and constantly cognising entities. Autopoiesis has long inspired definitions of knowledge, with ideas such as: knowledge cannot be transferred, or knowledge can only be created by the potential ‘knower’. Using the theory of autopoiesis, it is possible to create a biologically grounded model of knowledge, representing the latest thinking in neuroscience. However, before this new, biologically grounded model of knowledge can be integrated into new or existing knowledge management theories, it needs to be tested, else it falls into the trap of being conceptual, and remaining that way. This paper starts with the autopoietic, and therefore biologically, grounded model of knowledge, and develops the new evaluation framework necessary to test the model. The evaluation methodology developed in this research started from the field of programme evaluation and was adapted to meet the needs of the knowledge management discipline. This paper subsequently presents the initial findings from the evaluation process and takes the first steps to identifying how knowledge management can improve with its newly found scientific grounding.



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PARBOTEEAH, P., JACKSON, T. and RAGSDELL, G., 2009. Evaluating a living model of knowledge. IN: Bolisani, E. and Scarso, E. (ed.). 10th European Conference on Knowledge Management and Evaluation, ECKM 2009, Università Degli Studi Di Padova, Vicenza, Italy, 3-4 September.


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