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Markets in know-how

If knowledge is the key business resource of the future, markets in knowledge may become the commercial key to the future. Kevin Desouza ...

By Kevin C. Desouza and Yukika Awazu . 01 September 2004

If knowledge is the key business resource of the future, markets in knowledge may become the commercial key to the future. Kevin Desouza and Yukika Awazu examine the transparent market dynamics of knowledge.
Markets in knowhowKnowledge markets will become an integral part of our future. Knowledge, the critical resource of our times, will be priced and exchanged, and through this knowledge workers will be rewarded. The knowledge market will be to twenty first century organisational life what the campfire was to pre-historic storytellers: a place for all organisational and cultural knowledge to be preserved and promulgated.

At the moment, however, knowledge management tends to assume that knowledge markets are altruistic rather than economic. This leads to several problems.

The first is knowledge valuation. Markets allow us to value goods and services but, in an organisation, you seldom know the real value of knowledge. In organisations, besides receiving a pay cheque and an occasional bonus, employees are not rewarded for what they know. Reward systems focus on what the employee does. Doing is valued more than knowing. We do not want to undermine the value of doing. After all, actions are the means through which knowledge is operationalised.

However, we must also reward employees for what they know, the skills they bring to the organisation, and the knowledge they produce and share with the organisation. Knowledge markets provide us with a means of better understanding knowledge valuation. Knowledge producers can then be provided with incentives for taking the time to document their know-how. These incentives can be part of their performance reviews and annual evaluation.

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