Confusion has long existed between knowledge management (KM) and information management (IM). To the uninitiated, the difference between KM and IM is unclear – largely because there are no universally accepted definitions of ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’. But the confusion is not limited to the uninitiated. KM and IM specialists argue over the meaning of explicit and tacit knowledge, over the difference between information and data, and over the difference between codified knowledge and information. Why? And does any of this matter? This article explores the confusion between KM and IM by reflecting on the origins, development and current state of the two disciplines. The words we use to think and talk about KM and IM directly influence the way we practise KM and IM: and in some contexts, confusion between KM and IM has serious adverse effects on understanding and practice. The solution might lie in closer future development of the two disciplines – as long as practitioners appreciate that KM and IM are distinct but complementary, we talk to each other, and we pay attention to the words we use.
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