What happens to knowledge workers when the economy heads south?

“While KM is attractive to managers during a recession, the same conditions that make it look good also make it more complicated to apply, if you take into account the cooperation of the keepers of the intellectual capital – the employees. KM asks them to act like a team in an environment in which the company may not return the favor. If it is my skill (knowledge) that makes me valuable to the company, why on earth would I give it away only to be sent packing? People will not share their flashes of individual brilliance or hard-won expertise with co-workers if their workplace does not support learning, cooperation and openness. One business, for example, sought to increase worker collaboration and knowledge reuse while simultaneously downsizing that same work force. The combination proved untenable. While jobs hang in the balance, asking employees to dole out insights or record their tacit knowledge is fruitless. Under those circumstances, any employee would suspect that KM was simply a tool of manipulation.”

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