Blueprint for the 21st Century
Innovation Management

European Union

We are ‘neighbours in a global village’. In May 1997, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, together with the European Union, held a three-day invitational conference on Knowledge Management and learning organizations as a step towards creating the European Knowledge Union. Co-ordinated by Kenniscentrum CIBIT, the meeting brought together knowledge leaders from all over the world. As background material, a compilation of speeches by the Honourable J.M.M. Ritzen was provided, outlining concepts (e.g., continuous Europe, neighbours in a global village, co-ownership) that have been part of what is described as the ‘Knowledge Debate’ (Ritzen, 1997).

IN the CIBIT Newsletter (June 1997), a summary of the main conclusions of the workshops noted that businesses and education are becoming increasingly intertwined.

The image that universities create and transfer knowledge and industry receives knowledge should be challenged. Knowledge is created within communities of practice in which individuals with different backgrounds collaborate and give each other information (van der Spek, 1997).

In providing summary remarks for the meeting, Karl Erik Sveiby differentiated between knowledge as an object and knowledge as a process. By viewing knowledge as an object, you can sell information as knowledge and thereby increase your returns by being first to market. People are seen as costs and investments are made in IT. On the other hand, if you view knowledge as a process, you can expect increasing returns from investment in better relationships with your customers. People as then seen as revenues, and your investment lies in investing in the people.

In collaboration with the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), a network of 560 European companies, and the American Quality and Productivity Center (AQPC), CIBIT is now conducting a Knowledge Management benchmarking study into best practices. The focal points of the study include: KM enablers; KM as a business strategy; transfer of knowledge and best practices; customer-focused knowledge; intellectual asset management; innovation and knowledge creation.