What is institutional knowledge Management? - KPS

What is institutional knowledge?

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Institutional knowledge, sometimes referred to as organizational knowledge, is the collective wisdom, information, expertise, and experience that an organization or institution has accumulated over time. It represents the insights, practices, and know-how that are unique to a specific organization and are not easily transferable to other entities. Institutional knowledge is a valuable asset for organizations as it helps them operate effectively, make informed decisions, and maintain continuity over the long term.

Key characteristics of institutional knowledge include:

  1. Historical Perspective: Institutional knowledge often includes a historical perspective on the organization, including its founding, growth, successes, failures, and key milestones. This historical context can be essential for understanding the organization’s evolution.
  2. Best Practices: It encompasses the best practices and procedures that have been developed and refined within the organization. These practices are often based on years of experience and are tailored to the organization’s specific needs and objectives.
  3. Expertise and Skillsets: Institutional knowledge includes the expertise, skills, and competencies of employees and members who have contributed to the organization’s success. This expertise can span various areas, such as technology, industry-specific knowledge, leadership, and more.
  4. Process Knowledge: It covers information about the organization’s internal processes, workflows, and systems. This can include insights into how tasks are performed, how decisions are made, and how information flows within the organization.
  5. Cultural and Organizational Norms: Institutional knowledge encompasses the cultural norms, values, and traditions that shape the organization’s identity and guide its behavior. Understanding these aspects is crucial for maintaining the organization’s culture and ethos.
  6. Documentation and Records: Institutional knowledge often includes written documentation, reports, manuals, and archives that capture important information and data relevant to the organization’s operations.
  7. Tacit Knowledge: In addition to explicit knowledge (documented and formalized), institutional knowledge may also include tacit knowledge, which is the unspoken or informal knowledge that employees possess through experience but may not have explicitly documented.

Institutional knowledge is vital for several reasons:

  1. Decision-Making: It provides decision-makers with valuable insights and historical context to make informed choices and avoid repeating past mistakes.
  2. Continuity: It ensures that an organization can maintain its operations and effectiveness even as employees come and go, preserving the organization’s legacy.
  3. Efficiency and Effectiveness: Institutional knowledge often includes efficient processes and best practices that can improve an organization’s performance and competitiveness.
  4. Innovation: It can serve as a foundation for innovation and improvement by building on past successes and learning from past challenges.
  5. Training and Onboarding: Institutional knowledge is invaluable for training new employees and helping them understand the organization’s culture and practices.

To preserve institutional knowledge, organizations may implement knowledge management solutions, mentorship programs, documentation initiatives, and other strategies to capture, organize, and transmit this knowledge to current and future members of the organization.


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