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A mix of experiences, values, contextual information and expert insight for acquiring, understanding and interpreting information. Together with attitudes and skills, it forms a capacity for effective actions.

Note1: Knowledge is a combination of ‘knowing facts’ about and ‘knowing how’ to do something. It refers to a body of facts and principles accumulated by humankind over the course of time. It is distinct from information as knowledge is information that has a purpose or use. Data leads to information and information leads to knowledge. Knowledge confers a capacity for effective action.

Note2: The draft version of ISO 9001E 2014 defines knowledge as available collection of information (3.50) being a justified belief and having a high certainty to be true.


Table 1. Definitions of knowledge

Since the time of the earliest philosophers men and women have attempted to both understand and define the concept of knowledge, however, no single definition of knowledge exists that has been generally agreed upon.

The many aspects of this fundamental topic are well covered in the Wikipedia (

Table 1 shows some of the definitions:

For example from this table we can see that Davenport and Prusak define knowledge as, "a fluid mix of framed experience, contextual information, values and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information." Knowledge by this definition therefore includes skills [1]. In the HR paradigm, there is a different definition of knowledge used by HR professionals that excludes skills from the definition of knowledge.

Knowledge has many dimensions:

In the same way that an automotive vehicle may be described in terms of many dimensions such as:

  1. Materials: Metal, Rubber, Glass etc.
  2. Components: Wheels, Engine, Passenger compartment, etc.
  3. Colours : Black, Red, Grey etc.

So also can Knowledge be described in terms of a number of different dimensions such as:

  1. Domains – technical, organisational, societal etc.
  2. States – Explicit, implicit, tacit etc.
  3. Levels – Know-why, know-how, know-what etc.
  4. Representations – Documents, models, pictures etc.
  5. Categories – Good practices, lessons, standards etc.
  6. Artefacts – Buildings, tools, equipment, etc.

Knowledge models:

Many knowledge exist that refer to these different dimensions. Knowledge models are described in this article.


[1] DAVENPORT, T.H., PRUSAK, L., Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA (2000).

Related articles



Tacit knowledge

Implicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge

Knowledge lifecycle