A history of the first 21 years of Knowledge Management

From an old article, a time line of the first 21 years of KM – taking us up to 1996

This time line is taken from the 1996 article by the Knowledge Research Institute (Towe, Pizziconi and Wiig) entitled “Knowledge Management; Where Did It Come From and Where Will It Go?”

It is an interesting and valuable reminder of the deep roots of the discipline, on which our modern efforts are built.

  • 1975– As one of the first organizations to explicitly adopt a knowledge-focused management practice, Chaparral Steel bases their internal organizational structure and corporate strategy to rely directly on explicit management of knowledge to secure technical and market leadership–without the assistance of informationtechnology. Chaparral still does not rely much on IT for its extensive KM practice and remains the quality and efficiency world-leader among mini-mills.
  • 1980– Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) installs the first large-scale knowledge-based system (XCON) for support of its configuration engineering and sales functions.
  • 1981– Arthur D. Little starts the Applied Artificial Intelligence Center to build practical knowledge-based systems (KBS) for commercial and Government clients.
  • 1983– USAA develops the first version of a KBS to transfer expert knowledge to practitioners as part of  their deliberate effort to manage knowledge.
  • 1986– The concept of “Management of Knowledge: Perspectives of a new opportunity” is introduced in a keynote address at a European management conference sponsored by the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations.
  • 1987– The first book relating to KM is published in Europe (Sveiby & Lloyd: “Managing Knowhow”).
  • 1987– The first round table KM conference“ Knowledge Assets into the 21st Century” Hosted by DEC and Technology Transfer Society at Purdue University.
  • 1989– A survey of Fortune 50 CEOs’ perspectives on KM is undertaken in which all agree that knowledge is their organization’s most important asset–but noone knows how to manage it.
  • 1989– The Sloan Management Review publishes its first KM-related article (Stata: “Organizational Learning –The key to management innovation”).
  • 1989– Several management consulting firms start internal efforts to manage knowledge. (Price Waterhouse integrates KM into its strategy.)
  • 1989– A few small and specialized consulting firms offer KM-specific services to clients.
  • 1989– The International Knowledge Management Network is started in Europe.
  • 1990– The Initiative for Managing Knowledge Assets (IMKA) is started by a consortium of several U.S. companies to provide a technological base for KM.
  • 1990– In Europe the first book on the learning organization is published (Garratt:“Creating a Learning Organization: A guide to leadership, learning & development”).
  • 1990– In U.S. the first books relating to KM are published (Savage: “Fifth Generation Management” and Senge: “The Fifth Discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization”).
  • 1990–The French Grande Colloquium de Perspective provides major address on “Knowledge Flow in a Global Innovation Management System.”
  • 1991– Skandia Insurance creates the position of Director of Intellectual Capital.1
  • 991– The first Japanese bookrelating to KM is published in the U.S.(Sakaiya: “The knowledge value revolution”).
  • 1991–Fortune runs the first article on KM (Stewart: “Brainpower”).
  • 1991–Harvard Business Review runs its first article on KM (Nonaka: “The knowledge creating company”).
  • 1992–Steelcase and EDS cosponsor conference on Knowledge Productivity.
  • 1993–In Europe, an important KM article is published (Steels: “Corporate Knowledge Management”).
  • 1993–The first book explicitly dedicated to KM is published (Wiig: “Knowledge Management Foundations”).
  • 1994– The International Knowledge Management Network expands its scope to include the Internet.
  • 1994– The International Knowledge Management Network publishes a KM survey of 80 Dutch companies (Spijkervet & van der Spek, 1994).
  • 1994– The International Knowledge Management Network conducts a conference “Knowledge Management for Executives” with over 100 European participants in Rotterdam. Universitéde Technologiede Compiègne (France) holds its first annual KM conference.
  • 1994– Several large consulting firms offer KM services and start seminars for prospective clients on KM.
  • 1994– Knowledge Management Network and FAST Company magazine are founded in the U.S..
  • 1995– The European ESPRIT program includes explicit requests for KM-related projects.
  • 1995– American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) and Arthur Andersen conduct the “Knowledge Imperatives Symposium” with over 300 attendees. Other KM conferences and seminars are held in the U.S. and Europe.
  • 1995– APQC initiates a multiclient KM Consortium Benchmarking Study with 20 sponsors.
  • 1995– The Knowledge Management Forum is started on the Internet.
  • 1995– KM Focus is broadened to include research on intellectual work (Suchman,1995).
  • 1996– Several KM conferences and seminars are held in Europe and the U.S. organized by both general conference organizers and consulting organizations.
  • 1996– Over one dozen large consulting organizations and many smaller ones offer KM services to clients.
  • 1996– Many companies arestarting KM efforts–some with internal resources only, others with assistance by outside organizations.
  • 1996– The European Knowledge Management Association is started

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