In response to Ahmad comments regarding KM,  I quote:

The distinction between Knowledge Management (KM) and Information Management (IM) is far from being well-articulated in the KM literature and this is compounded by the confusion around the concepts of knowledge and information. In fact, there is no consensus regarding the claim that KM is a new field with its own research base, since much of the terminology and techniques used, such as knowledge mapping, seem to have been borrowed from both IM and librarianship (Koenig, 1997). KM is considered by some as the business salvation and by others as the “emperor’s new clothes” (Martensson, 2000). On the one hand, authors such as Gourlay (2000) and Beckman (1999) present KM as an emerging discipline. According to Beckman, the expression was coined for the first time in 1986 by Dr. Karl Wiig who wrote one of the first books on the topic, Knowledge Management Foundations, published in 1993. On the other hand, others, such as Broadbent (1998), Streatfield and Wilson (1999), claim that firms and information professionals have been practicing for years KM-related activities. Streatfield and Wilson (1999) argue that the concept of knowledge is over-simplified in the KM literature, and they seriously question the attempt to manage what people have in their minds. Nevertheless, there is a real interest and enthusiasm in KM as revealed by the increasing number of publications relating to the topic since 1995 (Mahdjoubi & Harmon, 2001). In addition, the library and information press has suggested for a number of years that it is a burgeoning field of great interest to information professionals, since they possess the necessary skills to work in the field (Broadbent, 1997; Abram, 1997; Chase, 1998; Henczel, 2001; Oxbrow & Abell, 2002).

Although many KM initiatives are documented in the business literature (Davenport & Prusak, 1998), what is actually entailed in these initiatives remains vague and ambiguous because there are many interpretations of knowledge management. And, a recent review by Hlupic et al. (2002) identified 18 different definitions of KM. Many attempts have been made to define KM from a theoretical perspective (Choo, 1998; Srikantaiah & Koenig, 1999, Oluic-Vukovic, 2001, Mac Morrow, 2001) and to identify the various types of organizational knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995, Boisot 1998, Brown & Duguid 1998). These attempts do not really address the relationships between KM and IM.

Recently, this lack of a clear distinction between information and knowledge has been recognized as a major issue with the KM literature (Martensson, 2000; Tsoukas & Vladimirou, 2000; Kakabadse et al., 2001). Gourlay (2000) suggests that KM practices focus mainly on knowledge representations not on knowledge per se, making the distinction between KM and IM even more blurred. There is indeed a fine line between KM and IM at both the conceptual and practical levels. …  Much of the case-studies published in the literature are associated with large consulting firms, who were pioneers in that area, lending credence to the belief that KM simply a marketing ploy for consultants.

Im not here to say that KM dose not exest or that IM is better, I dont have the knowledge to say that. But from my point of view i think that even the advanced interprises and countries still dont hold a firm grip on the concept and still there is a depate about the two concepts, KM & IM. I find it clear that we must first understand and implement IM before we can reach an understanding of KM. As it is mentioned in the article above, there is a thin line between the two.

Article cited:

Bouthillier, F. and Shearer, K. (2002). “Understanding knowledge management and information management: the need for an empirical perspective” Information Research, 8(1), paper no. 141 [Available at


7 thoughts on “KM Vs IM

  1. Good morning Mr. Bahrani and thanks for sharing with us this interesting article.

    Just forget about what is IM and what is KM and the difference between them. As I told you earlier that the main idea of KM is that something you do and the end result from what you did has an added value, if it didn’t then consider it in my opinion as IM. In another word, how many books, articles, blogs have you read so far?! I’m sure so many, right!? Have all what you have read influenced you, your organization or your life!? if it did, in a way or another, then consider it as KM. If it didn’t then it will still be as information which you archive in your brain.

    If you have saved money, time, effort … etc then you have used your knowledge. You can gain knowledge by experience as well. Sometimes you do things for the first time, and you find out that it did work or it didn’t work. So the next time, if the same thing happened to you, then you will use your previous knowledge and do it the right way. Right!?!? did you get what I’m saying!?

    Basically, in the blog titles “Food for Brain: Warren Buffet” This guy has transferred the knowledge which he has gained over so many years, which resulted in being one of the richest man on earth, with us as advice to young people. If we read, and observed what he was saying, then it will still be information. But if we did what he told us to do, and benefited in a way or another, then it’s going to be knowledge.

    Man, this debate could last forever, just make it easy “something that has impact or benefited you or your organization, consider it as knowledge, and when you or your organization try to manage it then it’s considered KM. If it didn’t benefited you or your organization, then consider it as information, until you use it”. Da Da Da Da 😛

    I think I wrote so much!!!! maybe because I love this subject. I’m really thankful for Dr. Laila Marouf & Prof. Abdus Sattar Chaudhry for all what they have giving us. Maybe they don’t know, but you know for sure that I have entered this program, just because Kuniv is the only place in Kuwait that teaches knowledge management, knowledge sharing & communities of practice courses.

    Thanks again everyone for your contribution.

    Talal Al-Bannai

  2. It’s a good issue to discuss the IM and KM paradox. As we all know that Knowledge is an organized information according to the wisdom hierarchy, so it is essential to concentrate on the quantity and quality of information that we have in our organizations and once we have all the information that we need, the step or let’s say the process in collecting, organizaing, classifying the information then we are in the level of knowledge. Now the argument wether we are dealing with information or knowledge it depends how the organization is dealing with managing the information in an organized process so tools and practices are defined and focued. It’s like you are walking in a wide road to the thinner road which will lead you to the main point that your heading for. Anyway, as Talal mentioned in his comment that the issue here is how you practice the information and let’s concentrate on the practices and tools of information to achieve the mission, goals and objectives of the organization so as to have the success that we are seeking. People will tell you after your success in your organization that you are dealing with knowledge management, may be you see it as you are dealing with information management. It’s a coin in your hand, the two faces will lead you to the same VALUE. But which face you like???!!!:)

    bo U sef

    Thank you Talal and Mohammad

  3. No one can say that there is no such think as knowledge. The first thing we learned from P.Mumtaz back in 501 is what is the difference between Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Enlightenment. But i doubt if there is a precise process or procedure to contain and manage that knowledge in a better way then there is. Knowledge by itself is more intelligent then our understanding and hard to handle.

    The next your going to say is why not manage Wisdom. and why there is know Enlightenment Management? I know its not possible but just for sake of the topic.

    Just today i was discussing with Talal this same topic. Talal point of view is that if you benefit from the information and use and if adds something useful to you then its Knowledge. If you receive the information but its not useful to you or id does not any thing to you then its Information. I disagree with that. Most of the times we receive information and it is useful and adds to our skills and knowledge but we dont use it. My knowledge has increased but i did not use it. Or it could be not useful to me because i dont need it.

    I know that knowledge exist. But what im saying is the opposite of Talal. If you transfer Knowledge or share it then it become Information.

    Ahmad, If i dont know that im dealing with Knowledge then how come its Knowledge Management? 🙂 My point of view is that Knowledge exists only in the minds of people. When they try to manage it and capture it then it transforms to Information.

    Im so happy with this discussion. Im not trying to force my thinking, Im trying to enrich it by trying to conceive some of your knowledge guys.

  4. Simply KM is about managing people in any to convert the individual knowledge to organizational knowledge throughout motivating the employees to share their knowledge with others. Meanwhile, IM is about documented information or how to manage codified resourcses of information such as books, e-jpurnals, dtabases,..thats why IM is more related with LIS. I would like to thank Dr.Laila.. we learned alot from her in KM course..unfortunately i cant write it all here.

    see this clip about KM

  5. One of the advantages of applying knowledge management in our organizations is to increase the level of transperency among staff in all managerial levels, the other thing it will help in solving the problem of selfishness of some managers or staff in our organizations. To jump from the documented to the undocumented or let’s say from the explicit to the Tacit knowledge we need to build the healthy environement where you can see everything, know everything, build walls of glasses not concrete ( in spirit), remove the barriers that you feel you are a stranger in your organization. I guess knowledge management needs special skills in CAPTURING information, need special people, a matrix of people who know the communications skills, social, May be B-Grade graduates not nessacary (A) level grade… and that will be hopefully my next Post ( Be proud of your (B) or (C) Grade in your life ) with examples of people. Hopefully, my kids will not see my coming Post 😉 🙂

    Bo U sef

  6. Thank you Fatma. I think your explanation is the clearest and easiest one. I wish it was that easy. We are looking for a way to capture and manage, is it possible.

    I find the best way to do that is by direct communication and i cant think of any other way. Dont you agree Ahmad? If people carry the knowledge but lack basic communication skills. How can they transfer and share what they know?

    Ahmad, What you have said about telling your kids about the B grade, now that’s knowledge, not Information. If you transfer your knowledge to you kids that would be great. but if you graduate and not need or use the knowledge of the grade that dose mean that its not knowledge any more and its just information! its there part of you conscious and a skill that you learned the hard way 🙂

  7. A lack of transparency is one of the issues that Knowledge management tools and practices should focus on, since knowledge sharing will not be established in any organization if you open one eye and close the other one. Transparency here is the issue that Dubai finicial crisis is under discussion and is it the one man vision could lead to a failure in the KM practices, or there is a wake up and recover soon,,not sure…to be continued

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