1. Staggers, Nancy PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

INTERNET-BASED ORGANIZATIONAL MEMORY AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT David G. Schwartz, Monica Divitini, and Terje Brasethvik, eds Idea Group Publishing 1331 E Chocolate Ave Hershey, PA 17033-1117 Telephone: 717-533-8845 Fax: 717-533-8661 E-mail: Web: Cost: $119.95


This book, published in 2000, deals with timely and pertinent issues: knowledge management and organizational functioning. As the editors of the book point out in the first chapter, "Knowledge management in general, and Internet-based knowledge management in particular, is one of the foremost strategic directions being investigated and adopted by corporations today." Knowledge management holds the promise of improved communication and better organizational and individual decision making. This, of course, is both promise and peril due to the vague but appealing nature of knowledge management itself. What is knowledge management and organizational memory? What are their opportunities and challenges? How are these concepts operationalized in a variety of disciplines and settings? This book addresses these issues. Tackling these tricky issues in a thoughtful manner has great merit.


The book is the result of a 1999 international conference on innovative Internet information systems. Generally, the excitement and synergy of an innovative conference does not translate as well into book form; however, this material is the exception to that. The stated purpose of that conference, translated into the purpose for this book, was to examine Internet technologies and solutions for knowledge management that allow for the creation and use of organizational memory. The concept of organizational memory may be less well known to readers than knowledge management; it denotes the actual content of a knowledge management system. Both concepts are defined early in the book. The editors provide a conceptual model to organize the papers into a meaningful array. They provide rationale for beginning with "Utilizing Knowledge" and then having subsequent sections dealing with "Acquiring Knowledge and Building Organizational Memories," concluding with "Knowledge in Virtual Organizations." The papers and perspectives in these sections are necessarily broad. The editors included both theoretical and empirical papers. In fact, the editors purposely designed the book with an unusually broad perspective of topics, which adds to the appeal of this material.


The editors are prepared in the field of computer science. David Schwartz has a doctorate in computer science and a MBA; Monica Divitini does not list her educational credentials, but she is an assistant professor at a Norwegian university computer science department. The third editor, Terje Brasethvik, is a doctoral student in information systems in Norway. The authors of chapters in the book represent both organizational theory and information technology arenas. From the provided credentials and experience levels, the authors provide a fascinating compilation of expertise.


The topics of the chapters in the book include diverse topics such as current and futuristic notions of the Internet, solutions for data extraction to optimize usable concepts, modeling methods for representing concepts, a method for introducing knowledge into the traditional field of accounting by marrying conceptual graphs with spreadsheets, human-based issues in implementation into a diverse user population, and the lessons learned about knowledge management strategies in virtual organizations. Another positive aspect is the inclusion of case studies at the end of several chapters.


The most difficult task for this reviewer was determining the audience for the book. Its broad perspective is one of its strengths. The broad perspective also makes it awkward to succinctly name the target reader because the book could be appealing to nearly anyone interested in either organizational or knowledge management-in corporations, academe, or IT. Certainly, informatics nurse specialists who want a good understanding of knowledge management within organizations would benefit from reading the book with the caveat that the material assumes a good understanding of informatics concepts on the part of the reader.


In summary, this book describes an innovative conference dealing with a current topic in informatics. The book is well organized, written by well-prepared authors, and provides new perspectives for readers. The price of this book is $119.95, a slightly steep price but one that will be a worthwhile investment.