Semiotics and Knowledge Management (KM): A theoretical and empirical approach

Larissa Sjarbaini 1  and René J. Jorna 2
  • 1 Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
  • 2 University Of Groningen


Knowledge Management (KM) concerns the study of knowledge in organizations. Knowledge sharing, use, storage, support, and knowledge creation are components of KM. The (short) history of KM shows that the theoretical foundations of KM require completion. In this article, a perspective on KM is discussed based on cognitive semiotics, which starts with humans as information processing systems. Knowledge is human-oriented. In order to formulate a conceptual framework for the determination and dynamics of knowledge with respect to humans, we modify the I-Space model as suggested by Boisot (1995) and replace it with the K-space model. Based on the cognitive semiotics view, the K-space model works with knowledge content and knowledge types (the way knowledge is (re)presented). Three knowledge types are discerned and discussed: sensory, encoded, and theoretical knowledge (based on various semiotic dimensions). With these knowledge types, “snapshots” of knowledge of individuals and organizations can be made and the dynamics of knowledge can be assessed. This article also contains an empirical study of planning support in a health care institution, bringing the model to a test. The results show an increase in the encoding of knowledge with respect to various sub-tasks of planning. We argue that KM definitely benefits from a cognitive semiotic infusion strengthening its theoretical foundation and leading to empirically corroborated results.

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The official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, founded in 1969 as one of the first scholarly journals in the field, Semiotica features articles reporting results of research in all branches of semiotic studies, in-depth reviews of selected current literature in the field, and occasional guest editorials and reports. The journal also publishes occasional Special Issues devoted to topics of particular interest.