The five-tier knowledge management hierarchy


Purpose: Many terms commonly used in the field of knowledge management (KM) have multiple uses and sometimes conflicting definitions because they are adapted from other research streams. Discussions of the various hierarchies of data, information, knowledge, and other related terms, although of value, are limited in providing support for KM. The purpose of this this paper is to define a new set of terminology and develop a five-tier knowledge management hierarchy (5TKMH) that can provide guidance to managers involved in KM efforts.

Design/methodology/approach: The 5TKMH is developed by extending the knowledge hierarchy to include an individual and an innovation tier.

Findings: The 5TKMH includes all of the types of KM identified in the literature, provides a tool for evaluating the KM effort in a firm, identifies the relationships between knowledge sources, and provides an evolutionary path for KM efforts within the firm.

Research limitations/ implications: The 5TKMH has not been formally tested.

Practical implications: The 5TKMH supports a KM life-cycle that provides guidance to the chief knowledge officer and can be employed to inventory knowledge assets, evaluate KM strategy, and plan and manage the evolution of knowledge assets in the firm.

Originality/value: In this paper, a new set of terminology is defined and a 5TKMH is developed that can provide guidance to managers involved in KM efforts and determining the future path of KM in the firm.


Information Technology and Cybersecurity

Document Type





Knowledge management, Knowledge process

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Knowledge Management