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knowledge mapping techniques in knowledge management

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Knowledge mapping is among popular methods used primarily by organizations to identify and sort information in their systems. When the techniques of knowledge mapping are applied, a complex and broad set of informative resources can be found and navigated in an easy manner. In recent times, the aspect of knowledge mapping has attracted the attention of managers as a tool for assessment with the capability of measuring conceptual understanding in depth and allows the experts in an organization to classify the relationships between concepts in a particular domain visually. The critical issue at hand for the organizations is to decide and choose which technique of knowledge mapping to utilize. With the application of some frameworks, the organizations are also able to compare and contrast the different types of knowledge mapping techniques and choose the one that best fits the particular organization.
This paper’s primary focus is to explore the various kinds of knowledge mapping techniques and give an overview of the contexts to have a manner of deciding on an appropriate mapping method. It tries to illustrate which types of mapping techniques are appropriate, where and why they should be applied, and how they can be managed. This paper is based on a comprehensive review of the recent articles on the techniques of knowledge mapping and also attempt to clarify the differences between the various knowledge mapping techniques and the reason for using each method.

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It is also recommended that the professionals clearly understand the reason for the development of the map before embarking on activities related to any dimensions of knowledge management and thus choose the appropriate knowledge mapping technique.
Knowledge mapping is a primary pillar of success for many organizations in this current day and age. It can be simplified to a basic phrase that is to know, show, and finally grow. Know is a tacit term that refers to the knowledge in the mind. Show, on the other hand, refers to explicit knowledge that is either written down on paper or a form of documentation is present. The final part of the phrase, grow, is depicted as a collaboration that stimulates new knowledge and is geared towards innovation. An in-depth grasp of these concepts can drastically develop the required capacity to compete with rival organizations. Knowledge classification can fall under Know-What, Know-How, Know-Why, and Know-Who (Ling et al., 2008). The primary responsibilities of knowledge management are to envisage information and knowledge for the seekers of knowledge. Knowledge mapping is one channel via which knowledge can be graphically represented by nodes to refer to primary links and ideas resulting in the representation of the relationships between said ideas.
Related Studies
Several studies have to put up a basic guideline for the development of knowledge maps. Knowledge mapping can be applied to open learning and thus help in the organization of knowledge in various contexts including online learning, learning design, planning of the learning path, problem-solving, and distance education (Okada & Shum, 2006). Knowledge relies on a classification pedestal on the tasks of management of information and knowledge. These tasks have four steps that are the maps of knowledge identification, the creation, and development of knowledge, application of knowledge, and finally, the assessment maps (Eppler, 2008). This form of categorization, however, is not accurate, wide-ranging, and diverse enough to be effectively used in knowledge management. The combined use of the social network analysis with the process of analytic hierarchy produces measures in a ratio format that can be used to the knowledge map of an organization (Liebowitz, 2005). Suyeon, Suh, and Hwang came up with a method that develops an industrial organization’s knowledge map through the capturing and demonstration of the organizational knowledge (2003). They hence claimed that knowledge mapping was an effective tool that is used in the representation of a company’s knowledge. Finally, Watthananon and Mingkhwan created a method of utilizing a knowledge map to elucidate the associations of knowledge that provide the users in a company with a path that simplifies the accessing of the knowledge that is stored in the database (2012). They also presented channels of improving the efficiency of the management of the knowledge by using knowledge maps.
Knowledge Mapping Definition
The primary definition of knowledge mapping is the process of identifying and surveying knowledge or informative items, preferably in a visual manner such that mapping itself results in the creation of additional information that determines where assets of knowledge are and how these said assets flows within a system. The second definition of knowledge mapping is a process of surveying, linking, and assessing the competences, knowledge, information, and proficiencies held by groups and individuals within a particular organization (White, 2002). A knowledge map is primarily an intellectual infrastructure for the initiatives of knowledge management. Its basis consists of multiple numbers of taxonomies for the content repositories, the dynamic classification of individuals, their expertise, the communities they come from, and finally various taxonomies for the tasks that are carried out within and by the firm’s communities. The taxonomies of content, people, and tasks then have to be mapped across the three components to provide a build-up point for such knowledge management projects as knowledge retrieval for both document-based knowledge and the knowledge that is tacit located within the minds of the company experts (Anon, 2003).
Another definition of a knowledge map is a geographical depiction of knowledge within a particular organization showing the owner, value, and location by utilizing the method of organizational information (Ling et al., 2008). A knowledge map should portray the flow of knowledge throughout the organization and help steer both explicit and tacit knowledge. Knowledge maps are not the source of knowledge but rather an indication of the tools for knowledge; they are not repositories but guides for knowledge and information. Since knowledge maps give a holistic overview of the resources of knowledge, they thus determine and clarify the knowledge that is needed to achieve the strategic aims in a simplified and user-friendly manner. The information that is presented in the knowledge maps assists managers and directors in an organization to observe issues and discover the risks involved. The building of knowledge maps enables directors to build and enhance both educational and training support systems to achieve a successful team work environment and view knowledge relations across the areas of knowledge in an organization.
Knowledge Types and Objects to be Mapped
The objects of knowledge can either be hypertext or text geared to achieving explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge exists primarily in texts on the intranet or hypertexts on the web that are viewed as documents. In explicit knowledge, the objects that can be mapped include the format, location, subject, users, ownership, and access right. The types of knowledge that can be mapped in tacit knowledge include skill, relationships, accessibility, contact address, and experience.
Explicit knowledge can be illustrated, symbolized, and documented. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is contained in the minds of individuals and is hard to document or express. Another classification of knowledge has three types that are descriptive knowledge, strategic knowledge, and procedural knowledge. Descriptive knowledge refers to “know-what” or declarative knowledge, gives a description of situations, facts, methods, and objects. Procedural knowledge refers to the know-how describes doing something, manipulations or actions. It describes a behavior or method. Strategic knowledge, on the other hand, refers to “know-why” and “know-when”, which is the category from which the process of decision making benefits the most.
Knowledge Mapping Classification
The classification of knowledge maps provides a basic idea of the issues and assists in finding a suitable method to solve the problem among the potential techniques of knowledge mapping. Classification makes it easy to determine the desired design of the knowledge map for the targeted context. Classification also clarifies the differences and similarities of the techniques of knowledge mapping. The George Lakoff method of classification of knowledge maps includes four basic categories that are perceptual, purposive, motor-activity, and functional. The purposive category refers to categorizing based on the intended use; classifying maps by the purpose of knowledge management that they serve. The perpetual category refers to categorizing by the common look or format such as a knowledge map’s graphic format. The functional category, on the other hand, refers to classifying knowledge maps by the content type or by personal use. Finally, the motor-activity category is primarily based on the physical interaction with the content in the knowledge map (Halgamuge, 2005).
Principles of classifying knowledge maps from Eppler are the following set of questions: What is the primary purpose for the creation of the knowledge map? Who will utilize the knowledge map, in which phase, and in what situation? Which domain of knowledge is the primary focus of the knowledge map? Which is the preferred graphical method of the knowledge map and who will do its construction? Where the organization’s knowledge rooted and what is the knowledge map expected to produce? (Eppler, 2008).
Knowledge Mapping Techniques
There are various techniques of knowledge mapping for the organizational knowledge present in firms. Every technique utilizes a set of objectives, approaches, tools, and particular characteristics. The yellow paging technique facilitates a structural collection of documents and data about the people present in a specific organization. It is an efficient method to know who knows what kind of information in an organization. The primary purpose of the yellow pages is to establish knowledge sharing and communication among groups of people and individuals in firms. Various companies have applications of yellow paging that enable the staff to search, find, and communicate with each other and also know employees with specific skills and expertise. This method has limitations that include problems of reviewing the quality of the existing knowledge of people and maintenance issues like updating the system’s information due to lack of integration (Iske, 2005).
The technique of information flow analysis determines who exactly is accessing what resources of information. It also researches the organization’s informal network and functional process to show the frequency of access to a particular information resource. This process is achieved primarily by the use of complex computer applications and programs (Lutters, Ackerman, Boster, & McDonald, 2002). There are other techniques that are used to show the same information as the use of sign-in and sign-out sheets. The use of these sheets and questionnaires shows real world information on usage. The analysis of social network technique, on the other hand, is primarily defined as a map of flows and relationships between groups, computers, organizations, people, or other knowledge and information processing entities (Pollock, 2002). The network’s nodes are the groups and individuals while the links are the flows between the individual nodes. This technique gives both a mathematical and visual analysis of the complex systems. It is an important method used in the understanding of the networks and the network participants while evaluating the location of the actors present in the network. It also tries to comprehend the manner via which the tacit knowledge was broadcasted and how to improve it. It also assists the managers to comprehend relations that hinder or facilitate the transfer or creation knowledge.
Process knowledge mapping technique refers to the analysis method that defines the needed knowledge and the knowledge that is available to support a process in an organization. It analyzes business processes to find decision milestones, knowledge requirements, the routes for retrieval and access of knowledge via technology and people and gaps between the current skills and required skills. This technique helps in the identification of individual, organizational processes, the current position of the employee performing a particular step, the required training, and skills an employee should have in a particular position in the organization, the expertise, and experiences needed for a specific position, required procedures, resources, and actions to be undertaken. This technique of knowledge mapping focuses primarily on job analysis.

Functional knowledge mapping technique, on the other hand, is a process that supports the details. It is similar to the technique of knowledge process mapping but mainly focuses on the employee in the particular position. The use of this technique assists in the listing of an individual’s social contacts and knowledge that are closely related to a particular position in the company. It also helps in determining individuals who possess the relevant experiences, skills, academic qualifications, and other resources applicable to other areas or having knowledge about that specific position. Functional knowledge mapping thus creates a directory in the organization of knowledge, skills, resources, and individual’s relationships. This technique of knowledge mapping requires a survey to be conducted of the relevant data. The advantage of this mapping technique is the ability of one to find the gap between the needed requirements for specific positions and what is present in reality in the organization.
The knowledge technique of mind maps or idea mapping is a depiction of ideas and the relationships between said ideas in a manner that is both visual and nonlinear. Mind maps primarily consist of networked concepts that relate to one another. The primary advantage of mind maps is that it assists in the retention of memory and organizing ideas together in a relationship to each other. The technique of concept maps, on the other hand, was developed in the year 1972 by prof. Novak and is a structured method to assist groups to develop conceptual frameworks that are used in evaluation or planning. This technique of concept mapping should not be confused with the technique of mind mapping because it is more structured and formal than the latter. It begins with a phrase or question, in a hierarchy that is structured where ideas are placed in layers that include tertiary, secondary, and primary.
The knowledge mapping technique of argument maps was invented by Wigmore in the year 2000 and is considered as a relatively new method that assists in legal argument analysis. This particular technique breaks a specific argument into various claims, objections, and reasons. It is also used in the preparation and presentation of arguments, and for developing the skills of critical thinking, both collectively and individually. The knowledge mapping technique of causal maps, on the other hand, refer to cognitive maps and represent the relations between cause and effect between the opinions of experts in a graphical manner. There are various diagrams that are referred to as causal maps such as the Ishikawa or fishbone diagrams and the cause and effect diagrams that are primarily utilized by students and teachers.
Another knowledge mapping technique is the knowledge asset map that contains mechanisms that enable an organization to identify its knowledge assets, the needed knowledge, and interrelations that are essential in the fulfillment of the development plans. This technique provides a working framework that enables an organization to identify the company’s areas of critical knowledge. The knowledge mapping technique of topic mapping, on the other hand, assists in organizing the knowledge, describing the relationships between various knowledge domains, and linking the knowledge resources. Topic maps are essential in the visualization of information routing in an organization.
The knowledge mapping technique of folksonomy is the collective and/or collaborative manner of the tags that come from the metadata that is user-generated (Kiu & Tsui, 2011) and are primarily used in the place of formal taxonomies. The word folksonomy comes from the combination of ‘folk’ and ‘taxonomy’ and refers to the collection of vocabulary that is related in an informal manner. It is a method of content sorting on the web via social tagging while the social classification that is generated by the employees mirrors the reality on the understanding of said knowledge. Another knowledge mapping technique is competency mapping that refers to an organizational structure containing job description and the requirements of the employees, while not revealing the individual’s real expertise and knowledge.

The knowledge mapping technique of Petri nets refers to a graph containing the various transitions as nodes. A Petri net is a graph that is two-parted containing directed edges and with formal semantics. This technique is a known tool that is primarily used in the study of information processing systems. Another knowledge mapping technique is the use of semantic maps. These maps try to depict the relation of documents and explain the available data using semantics in an economical manner. This technique of semantic mapping aims to simplify the implementation process by creating precise transforms from document structure and canonical messages into formats that are flattened where machine oriented codes are replaced by meaningful business names in structures that are deeply nested. The final knowledge mapping technique in consideration is the cognitive map. It primarily tries to depict how individuals perceive their environment and captures said individuals’ learning, comprehension, and keeping of knowledge. This map creates mutual understanding through the depiction of various team members’ views and thus assists in bringing a solution based on an understanding that is integrated.
The understanding of the techniques of knowledge mapping is essential in the creation of a knowledge map and thus, should come before the other knowledge management activities. Researchers ought to keep abreast the primary purpose of their specific knowledge mapping and thus use the appropriate knowledge mapping technique to achieve the purpose for the mapping.

Anon. (2003), Business process mapping, (n.d.). Retrieved from: HYPERLINK “”
Eppler, J., (2008) “A process‐based classification of knowledge maps and application examples”, Knowledge and Process Management, 15.1.
Iske, P. (2005), Connected brains: Question and answer systems for knowledge sharing: concepts, implementation, and return on investment, Journal of Knowledge Management
Kiu, C., & Tsui, E., (2011) “TaxoFolk: A hybrid taxonomy–folksonomy structure for knowledge classification and navigation”, Expert Systems with Applications
Liebowitz, J., (2005) “Linking social network analysis with the analytic hierarchy process for knowledge mapping in organizations”, Journal of Knowledge Management
Ling, N., Yih, C., Eze, C., Gan, G., & Ling, L. P., (2008) “Knowledge Management Drivers for Organizational Competitive Advantage”, Proceedings of Applied International Business Conference
Lutters, W., Ackerman, M., Boster, J., & McDonald, D. (2002), “Mapping Knowledge Networks in Organizations: Creating a Knowledge Mapping Instrument”. Proceeding of the Americas Conference on Information Systems
Okada, A. & Shum, B., (2006) “Knowledge mapping with Compendium in academic research and online education”, 22nd World Conference, International Council of Distance Education.
Pollock, N. (2002), Knowledge Management and Information Technology (Know-IT Encyclopedia), Defense Acquisition University Press, Fort Belvoir, Virginia
Suyeon, K., Suh, E., & Hwang, H., (2003) “Building the knowledge map: an industrial case study”, Journal of knowledge management
Watthananon, J., & Mingkhwan A. (2012)”Optimizing Knowledge Management using Knowledge Map”, Procedia Engineering

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