chapter  I
Defining information and knowledge
Pages 17

A key challenge for any organisation in the twenty-first century is to seek to maintain and improve its performance in an increasingly complex and competitive global operating environment, where change pressures appear to offer the only certainty. Despite the pursuit, over the last two decades, of ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM), ‘Business Process Reengineering’ (BPR) and more recently ‘Enterprise Resource Planning’ (ERP), to name only three of the more popular management holy grails, there remains, nonetheless, a prevailing sense of failure in fully realising hoped-for levels of improvement. In this context then, it is not surprising that there should be some sense of cynicism when it is argued that, by focusing upon identifying, valuing and managing information and knowledge (IKM) assets, there are significant opportunities to achieve more effective organisations and to improve their efficiency by reducing the amount of wasted time, effort and lost opportunity through better and more integrated use of both tangible and intangible organisational resources. The challenge presented here is to move to define such assets, particularly in relation to a ‘public sector’ context, and through an investigation of the benefits which can accrue from the successful management of information and knowledge, to dispel much of the disquiet and cynicism surrounding this potentially important area of organisational improvement.