Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Walsh

Second Advisor

Prof. Udo Bleimann


Traditional knowledge management attempts to store the total enterprise knowledge into IT related structures, but knowledge management strategies should focus also on people and organisations and not just on technology.

This can be addressed in part by communicating knowledge between people, in and across organisations. Such communication focuses on the development and exchange of people’s experience.

This thesis introduces a hybrid knowledge management solution consisting of an automated system that includes people: employees, experts and Knowledge Brokers (KB). The hybrid concept supports the identification of suitable people for certain topics of discussion. Further, it supports the knowledge communication process by providing a communication infrastructure. When employees cannot find the appropriate information or expert, then they can ask a personal Knowledge Broker for assistance. Knowledge Brokers can cooperate, forming the Knowledge Broker Network (KBN).

A knowledge or semantic network is used to model relationships between the key concepts of the company and the topics of expertise of employees and experts. Instead of storing data in repositories, this novel KBN concept uses “meta-knowledge”, which describes relationships between people and their experiences, and their ability to answer questions in a certain area. Users’ documents are analysed and classified automatically with the aim to discover and update their experiences.

The integration of external resources and an algorithm that proposes personalised hints to valuable information are part of the KBN approach.

In addition, the concept comprises personalisation, focusing on:

• the user’s personalised view into the knowledge network, based on his information ratings;

• the user’s private part of the knowledge network.

The support of communities by Knowledge Brokers focuses on identifying topics of expertise for already existing communities of practice or for new ones that have to be created.

Implementing the KBN approach within a company supports the development of an organisational culture that allows enterprise wide knowledge exchange. This is illustrated by a prototype and three further example applications of the man-machine- hybrid approach.


Submitted to the Higher Education and Training Awards Council in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

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