On a Common Language for a Best Practices Knowledge Base

D. E. O'Leary

Knowledge management systems are becoming embedded in knowledge work. As part of those knowledge management systems, increasingly, firms are developing best practices knowledge bases that summarize a wide range of enterprise processes. Central to those particular knowledge bases are common languages 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 practices databases. Further, this paper summarizes some of the barriers standing in the way of development and use of these common languages. In addition, this paper develops a model that finds that it is "impossible" to rationally chose a common language that meets the needs of all individuals and the firm, unless dictatorship is allowed. Although "dictatorships" are not objectionable in for-profit firms, there can be problems if there is change in the dictator (e.g., executive turnover) the system is sold to others with different common language and process needs than the dictator.

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