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Learning Objectives

The objectives of the "Knowledge Management Foundations" course are mainly two. The first is to provide students with basic theoretical knowledge of fundamental concepts as well as analytical and operational tools related to the management and creation of knowledge within firms and, in particular, to the central position that knowledge and learning play concerning the achievement of a sustainable competitive advantage by firms. The course focuses on the importance of improving knowledge management in firms to increase their competitiveness, emphasising the importance of both human and technological aspects.
The second objective of the course is to provide practical knowledge - functional to the theoretical one - through i) the cycle of seminars "Meet the knowledge expert", which sees
the participation of entrepreneurs, managers, and knowledge management experts, ii) analysis of specific case studies and iii) elaboration of project work, allowing students to
directly approach the complexity associated with the knowledge management by firms. The course trains students consistently with the purpose of the Bachelor’s Degree Course in
Business Administration & Economics, helping them to develop competencies and skills to properly implement knowledge management and allow them to cover entrepreneurial or
management roles in the vast and heterogeneous field of manufacturing and service firms. At the end of the course, students will have to demonstrate that they have achieved the
expected learning outcomes in compliance with the Dublin descriptors, as follows:

- Understand the importance of knowledge management and knowledge creation within firms
- Understand the fundamental concepts related to knowledge and its creation, acquisition, dissemination (transfer and sharing), use, and management
- Know the main theories and the most important processes to properly implement knowledge management within firms of any nature and size
- Know the tools and techniques for identifying and measuring intellectual capital and for knowledge sharing both within the firm and with external parties
- Identify the different actors who can favour/hinder knowledge management in a firm and the relationships between them from a systemic and co-evolutionary point of view
- Interpret and analyse the complexity of the governance and management decision-making processes that characterise the knowledge management choices in the firm, also
considering the social, institutional, and physical-environmental factors as well as the power relationships between companies and non-market forces

- Demonstrate the ability to identify, analyse, evaluate, and solve complex problems related to knowledge management within companies
- Compare knowledge management methods, tools and techniques learned during the course, as well as from related courses, and be able to choose the most suitable ones in
light of the specific context of analysis
- Explain how the application of general management principles to knowledge management can lead to positive results for society as a whole
- Draw up and discuss a project work through which to demonstrate not only to have acquired the knowledge derived from the course but also to know how to apply them to
specific real contexts adequately

- Identify the fundamental role of the basic theoretical knowledge learned during the course in the re-elaboration, argumentation, and autonomous evaluation of knowledge
management practices, including personal reflections on social, scientific, and ethical issues related to them.
- Making judgments based on limited or incomplete information.

- To present the concepts acquired during the course, in both written and oral form, in a clear, correct, and orderly way and with a technical language consistent with the course
- Knowing how to explain the concepts acquired during the course to specialist and non-specialist interlocutors
- Demonstrate the ability to work in a team and manage relational dynamics

- Build and develop a suitable study and research method to allow the deepening of the knowledge acquired during the course
- Identify the possible fields of application of the knowledge and skills acquired during the course for a future career
- Evaluate the importance of the theoretical and practical knowledge base acquired in the overall Bachelor’s program


In the didactic regulations of the Bachelor's degree program in Business Administration & Economics, there are no preparatory courses for the Knowledge Management Foundations course. Nonetheless, to better understand the contents of the lessons and achieve the educational objectives of the course, it is useful for the student to have already acquired basic knowledge at least from business area courses and in particular from the disciplines of Business economics and General Management.


The course program is articulated into the following 6 main parts:

Part I - Knolwedge
What is knowledge?; Knowledge hierarchy; Why is Knowledge important?; Typologies of Knowledge; Relationship between tacit and explicit knowledge; Other types of knowledge; Knowledge, Skill, (Cap)Ability; Knowledge models: Nonaka & Senge; Knowledge strategy; Knowledge strategy process; Resource appraisal; Exploration vs. Exploitation; Filling the knowledge gap: make or buy?; Knowledge loss; Employee turnover; Managing knowledge
loss; Knowledge manager

Part II - Knowledge management
What is Knowledge Management?; KM views; KM purposes; Pillars of KM: Management and organisation, Infrastructure, People and Culture, Content management system; KM implementation: Advocate and learn, Develop strategy, Design and launch KM initiatives, Expand and support initiatives, Institutionalize knowledge management

Part III - Intellectual capital
Components of intellectual capital; Measuring and Safeguarding Intellectual Capital; Finding Measures for Intangible Assets: Balance scorecard, Intangible asset monitor, Skandia navigator, Knowledge account; Intellectual Capital Reporting

Part IV - Learning
What is learning?; Conscious learning; Absorptive capacity; Action learning vs Learning from action; Kolb’s model; What is organisational learning?; Learning types

Part V - Knowledge sharing
What is Knowledge sharing?; Knowledge sharing vs. knowledge transfer; Models of knowledge sharing; Implementing knowledge sharing; Knowledge sharing barriers; Knowledge characteristics; Sharing knowledge creatively

Part VI - Knowledge management tools and techniques
Peer assist; After action review; Knowledge café; Communities of practices; Social network services; Knowledge cluster; Knowledge mapping; KM maturity model


Material indicated by the professor
Supplementary study material pertaining to in-depth analysis (thematic seminars and analysis of company cases).


• Peter Massingham (2020): Knowledge Management: Theory in Practice, SAGE;
• Choo, C. W. (1996). The knowing organization: How organizations use information to construct meaning, create knowledge and make decisions. International journal of information management, 16(5), 329-340;
• Leoni, L. (2015), “ Adding service means adding knowledge: an inductive single-case study”, Business Process Management Journal, 21(3), 610-627. ISSN: 1463-7154. Doi: 10.1108/BPMJ-07-2014-0063;
• Nonaka, I. (1991). The knowledge-creating company. Harvard business review, 85(7/8),162-171;
• Nonaka, I. (1994). A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organization science, 5(1), 14-37.

Teaching methods

The teaching activity, in line with the training objectives of the course, responds to a theoretical-practical approach that combines lectures, thematic seminars with testimonials, discussion of business cases, and project work for a total of 36 hours of training, according to the calendar published before the start of the semester on the Bachelor’s Degree Course website. The lectures include the treatment of the theoretical and methodological
foundations reported in the course program and their application using business cases and examples to allow students to develop understanding and application skills of concepts and methodologies suitable for solving Knowledge management issues. Furthermore, for some course topics (or related to it, also concerning significant socio-economic and environmental evolutions in national and international contexts), thematic seminars are planned, introduced by the teacher, and carried out by managers, entrepreneurs, and experts in knowledge management. These testimonials form an integral part of the training objectives of the course as they further and effectively develop the student's ability to understand and apply them through a direct approach to the complexity of the processes of knowledge management, creation, and enhancement in a firm. During the lectures, the discussion of the cases, and the thematic seminars, students are encouraged by the teacher to ask questions, express doubts, and present their critical points of view, highlighting the concepts and tools used for their arguments, starting from those learned during the course.

Exam Rules

For attending and non-attending students, the oral exam focuses on the topics of the course program, including topics emerging from in-depth seminars and the analysis of business cases. For attending students, the preparation of a project work is required, based on a PowerPoint presentation and the discussion of the project in the classroom.

Non-attending students are instead required to deepen their study through the articles by Nonaka available in the bibliographic references of the course.

The exam assesses the overall preparation by the student following the Dublin descriptors, as follows: acquired knowledge (quantity and quality) concerning the topics of the program and consequentiality of reasoning; ability to apply such knowledge and to make connections among the different parts of the program, including also the acquired knowledge from other similar courses; analytical ability, synthesis, and autonomy of
judgement; communication skills of the student (language properties, clarity of presentation, and appropriate use of terminology, specific to the course).

The final mark of the exam is expressed out of thirty and will be obtained through the following grading system:
Fail: essential deficiencies in the knowledge and understanding of the topics; limited analytical and synthesis skills; frequent generalisations and limited critical and judgmental abilities; the topics are set out inconsistently and with inappropriate language;
18-21: the student has acquired the basic concepts of the discipline and has an analytical capacity that emerges only with the help of the teacher; the way of speaking and the language used are correct;
22-25: the student has acquired the basic concepts of the discipline discreetly, knows how to orient him/herself among the various topics covered, and has an autonomous analysis capacity knowing how to express using the correct language;
26-29: the student has a well-structured knowledge base; he/she can independently rework the knowledge acquired in the context of the choice of conventional and unconventional materials according to the application; the way of speaking and the technical language are correct;
30 and 30 cum laude: the student has a comprehensive knowledge base. The cultural references are rich and updated, expressed with brilliance and properties of technical language.