Developing a Theory-Based Ontology for "Best Practices" Knowledge Bases

Daniel E. O'Leary

Knowledge management systems are becoming more widespread. As part of those knowledge management systems, increasingly, firms are developing best practice knowledge bases that summarize a wide range of enterprise processes. Central to those particular knowledge bases are common languages, also referred to as ontologies, that are used to facilitate access and navigation through the knowledge base. This paper summarizes some of the evidence as to the necessity of common languages in best practice databases. In addition, some of the problems standing in the way of these common languages and the way that they have been built to-date also are summarized. Then this paper proposes a process for building an ontology or a common language for such best practice databases. That process is based on using the enterprise model of resources, events and agents to generate metalevel requirements, and function as an "ontology generator." Generic process description is available from the value chain work of Porter. The REA structure would then be used to analyze a generic process description, teasing out necessary ontology information, in order to develop an ontology for that process.


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