This paper explores the prospects for Knowledge Management (KM) services in rural development. It takes a close look at knowledge networks and systems in rural areas, and examines the relationship between KM and Internet and Communication Technology (ICT).
The paper argues that ICT is most useful for shuffling data and information and to some extent for transferring documented knowledge, but is of little use for transferring complex or implicit knowledge. A relatively novel concept, KM has emerged as a response to the rapid development of ICT. It highlights that, while the speed and ease of exchanging data and information is increasing, a new challenge for users emerges: to select relevant data, information and documents.
To better understand the potential and limitations, the author stresses the importance of recognising the differences between data, information and knowledge. A number of examples are given of effective knowledge sharing networks in rural contexts.
The paper highlights several principles or conditions for a successful exchange of knowledge. These include:
- creating a shared knowledge base by vocational training, joint discussion, publication, team building and job rotation;
- appreciating an idea irrespective of the status of the person who provides it (non-hierarchical handling ideas);
- encouraging employees to admit knowledge gaps and project failures;
- offering capacity building to employees in order to become more creative.