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Personal knowledge management

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Title: Personal knowledge management  
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Personal knowledge management

Personal knowledge management (PKM) is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities (Grundspenkis 2007) and the way in which these processes support work activities (Wright 2005). It is a response to the idea that knowledge workers increasingly need to be responsible for their own growth and learning. (Smedley 2009) It is a bottom-up approach to knowledge management (KM), as opposed to more traditional, top-down KM. (Pollard 2008)

History and Background

Although as early as 1998 Davenport wrote on the importance to worker productivity of understanding individual knowledge processes (cited in (Zhang 2009)), the term personal knowledge management appears to be relatively new. Its origin can be traced in a working paper by Frand and Hixon (Frand & Hixon 1999).

PKM integrates Sheridan 2008). It is an underresearched area (Pauleen 2009). More recently researches have been conducted to situate personal knowledge management in the Web 2.0 and in particular trying to understand "the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies for harnessing and managing personal knowledge". (Razmerita, Kirchner & Sudzina 2009)


Dorsey (2000) identified information retrieval, assessment and evaluation, organization, analysis, presentation, security, and collaboration as essential to PKM (cited in (Zhang 2009)).

Wright’s model involves four interrelated domains: analytical, information, social, and learning. The analytical domain involves competencies such as interpretation, envisioning, application, creation, and contextualization. The information dimension comprises the sourcing, assessment, organization, aggregation, and communication of information. The social dimension involves finding and collaborating with people, development of both close networks and extended networks, and dialogue. The learning dimension entails expanding pattern recognition and sensemaking capabilities, reflection, development of new knowledge, improvement of skills, and extension to others. This model stresses the importance of both bonding and bridging networks (Wright 2007).

In Nonaka and Takeuchi’s SECI model of knowledge creation (see under knowledge management), knowledge can be tacit or explicit, with the interaction of the two resulting in new knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). Smedley has developed a PKM model based on Nonaka and colleagues’ model in which an expert provides direction and a community of practice provides support for personal knowledge creation (Smedley 2009). Trust is central to knowledge sharing in this model. Nonaka has recently returned to his earlier work in an attempt to further develop his ideas about knowledge creation (Nonaka & von Krogh 2009)

Personal knowledge management can also be viewed along two main dimensions, personal Zhang 2009).


It is not clear whether PKM is anything more than a new wrapper around personal information management (PIM). William Jones argues that only personal information as tangible resource can be managed, whereas personal knowledge cannot.[1] Dave Snowden has asserted that most individuals cannot manage their knowledge in the traditional sense of "managing" and has advocated thinking in terms of sensemaking rather than PKM (Snowden & Pauleen 2008). Knowledge is not solely an individual product - that it emerges through connections, dialog and social interaction (see Sociology of knowledge). However, in Wright’s model, PKM involves the application to problem solving of analytical, information, social, and learning dimensions, which are interrelated (Wright 2007), and so is inherently social.

An aim of PKM is "helping individuals to be more effective in personal, organisational and social environments" ((Pauleen 2009), p. 221), often through the use of technology such as networking software. It has been argued, however, that equation of PKM with technology has limited the value and utility of the concept (e.g., (Pollard 2008)(Snowden & Pauleen 2008)).


Skills associated with personal knowledge management.


Some organizations are introducing PKM 'systems' with some or all of four components:

  • Just-in-time Canvassing - templates and e-mail canvassing lists that enable people to identify and connect with the appropriate experts and expertise quickly and effectively
  • Knowledge harvesting - software tools that automatically collect appropriate knowledge residing on subject matter experts' hard drives
  • Content management tools - taxonomy processes and desktop search tools that enable employees to subscribe to, find, organize, and publish information that resides on their desktops
  • Personal Productivity Improvement - knowledge fairs and one-on-one training sessions to help each employee make more effective personal use of the knowledge, learning, and technology resources available in the context of their work

PKM has also been linked to these tools:

Other useful tools include Open Space Technology, cultural anthropology, stories and narrative, mindmaps, concept maps and eco-language, and single frames and similar visualization techniques. Individuals use these tools to capture ideas, expertise, experience, opinions, or thoughts, and this 'voicing' will encourage cognitive diversity and promote free exchanges away from a centralized policed knowledge repository. The goal is to facilitate knowledge sharing and personal content management.

See also


Most recent ones first

External links

  • Personal Toolkit: Three thousand communities of practice, article by Steve Barth in KMWorld
  • Climbing the Personal Knowledge Mountain by James Dellow - a goal-based approach to PKM focused on Relationships & Networks, Information and Technology posted on
  •, First International Workshop on Personal Knowledge Management at the 5th Conference on Professional Knowledge Management, 25–27 March 2009, Solothurn, Switzerland.
  •, Effective Personal Knowledge Management in a Global Knowledge Economy


  1. ^ No Knowledge but through Information William Jones, 6 September 2010
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