Course Title: Organizational Memory Systems

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Organizational Memory Systems

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


620H Business Info Technology


Sem 1 2006

Course Coordinator: John Kerrisk

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 39925 5816

Course Coordinator

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

No pre-requisite courses. Students should have a basic knowledge of organisational processes and the types of automated tools used to support them.

Course Description

Organizational Memory Systems examines the increasingly important question: "how can an organization, in all its complexity, retain a memory of what it has done; why it was done; what decisions were taken; and what processes were involved in these decisions?" The course looks at the evolving technologies that are now appearing in the marketplace, to address this question, and examines the way in which corporate memory concepts are evolving.

The course examines the ideas of corporate memory and looks at international research and application efforts to introduce memories into organizations. Techniques and tools for collaborative working are discussed, as well as ways in which such collaboration can be captured for later use. Case studies are used to explore organizational memory ideas in organizations, and students are asked to find solutions to specific problems. The connections between organizational memory, business processes and knowledge management, are investigated.

Most importantly, the close relationship between organizational memory systems and newly evolving Web technologies, are explored in depth.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The generic and course specific knowledge capabilities developed through this course are varied as the course looks at the way in which people use technology to operate within an organization. Assessment tasks are specifically geared to concentrated group-work and teamwork on the part of students is essential. Because this work is done via the Web, students practice productive electronic communication, a much needed skill in real business situations. Given that this course is a student elective, teams will consist of members from a variety of disciplines, mirroring the situation of real business operations.

Generic capabilities include:
* Defining and solving problems;
* Evaluating and interpreting information;
* Communicating productively using electronic means;
* Utilizing interpersonal skills;
* Communicating orally in business;
* Making decisions with others;
* Working effectively in small teams; and
* Interacting effectively with people in other disciplines.

Course specific capabilities include:
* Working with different cultures in organizations;
* Analysing corporate descriptions and structures to define information and knowledge flows;
* Utilizing current organizational memory structures;
* Designing and developing systems to preserve a memory of corporate activities;
* Initiating organizational action, through the knowledge of past actions, and their knowledge contexts via an organizational memory.

In this course you will learn how to:

* Identify sources of structured and unstructured data, used by organizations;
* Analyse the various contexts, in which this data is created, and its relationships to tacit and explicit knowledge;
* Deal with the challenge of Wicked Problems in organizations;
* Recognise how corporate data sources, and their contexts, relate to the organization’s memory;
* Work within the current limitations on the design and function of organizational memories;
* Relate collaborative work technologies to corporate memory technologies;
* Analyse the relationship between knowledge management and organizational memories;
* Utilize taxonomies and ontologies in organizational memory technologies:
* Identify and analyse technologies that are currently being used, and investigated for collaborative work, and the creation and retrieval of corporate memory (e.g. DECOR, IBIS, *QuestMap, OIL, TopicMaps etc);
* Describe how these tools relate to the various cultures within the organization; and
* Recognise the relationships between organizational memory tools and the developing Semantic Web technologies.

Overview of Learning Activities

Web delivered lectures containing text, graphics and voice-overs, form the basis for a series of group exercises, an assignment and an examination. Some of these group exercises are conducted as online discussions, running for a number of days and moderated by a tutor. Others are based upon tools, also run over a number of days, and supported by a tutor. Discussions may commence with position papers prepared by designated class members. During the teaching period, all members of the group have the opportunity to prepare these initial papers. All group exercises are based around case studies. An individual assignment is based on a business scenario. The examination is based upon lectures, tutorials and readings.

A weekly schedule is provided on the Teaching Website, which sets out the timetable for all lectures, tutorials and other significant course dates.

Themes to be explored and developed in lectures, tutorials and the assignment include:
*Corporate activities, artefacts and their contexts;
*Collection of contextual knowledge;
*Categorization and description of knowledge in organizations;
*Possible structures for organizational memories;
*Organizational memory and automation;
*Current organizational memory systems; and
*Web technologies and organizational memory.

Overview of Learning Resources

Given that organizational memory systems is a rapidly evolving area, the majority of readings will be journal articles, industry publications and Web pages. All readings are available in electronic form.

Readings will be referred to in lectures, as required.

The readings for this course may include:

Active knowledge delivery in semi-structured administrative processes, by Andreas Abecker and Gregoris Mentzas. 2nd International Workshop on Knowledge Management in Electronic Government, Italy, May 2001

Capturing organizational memory, by E. Jeffrey Conklin for Group Decision Support Systems, Inc. 1996

Context framework - an open approach to enhance organizational memory systems with context modelling techniques, by Roland Klemke. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Practical Aspects of Knowledge Management (PAKM2000), Basel, Switzerland, October 2000

Corporate memories for knowledge management in industrial practice: prospects and challenges, by Otto Kuhn and Andreas Abecker. Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol. 3, Issue 8, 1997. Pg. 929

The DECOR Toolbox for workflow-embedded organizational memory access, by Andreas Abecker, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems ICEIS 2001, Portugal, July 2001

A design for a group memory system using ontologies, by Jose Vasconcelos et. al. Proceedings of the 5th UKAIS Conference, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, 2000

Designing organizational memory: preserving intellectual assets in a knowledge economy, by E. Jeffrey Conklin for CogNexus, 2001
A good "working document" on the idea of corporate memory and one person’s ideas on a solution

The Dialog Mapping experience - a story, by E. Jeffrey Conklin. CogNexus Institute, 2001
A short story to illustrate the use of a meeting facilitation methodology called Dialog Mapping which is expressed using IBIS

Knowledge acquisition and modelling for corporate memory: lessons learnt from experience, by Gaele Simon. Presented at the Knowledge Acquisition Workshop Series of the Knowledge Science Institute of the University of Calgary, 1996.

Knowledge processes and ontologies, Steffen Staab, Rudi Studer, Hans-Peter Schnurr and York Sure. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 16 (1), January / February 2001, pp. 26 - 34

Making sense of fragmentary information: Compendium and the Intelligence Community, by E. Jeffrey Conklin. CogNexus Institute, 2002
A good introduction to collaborative modelling from the perspective of a particular tool and user community

Moving from on-the-job training towards organizational learning, Tamara Sumner, John Domingue, Zdenek Zdrahal, Alan Millican and Jayne Murray

Negotiating the construction of organizational memories, by Simon Buckingham Shum. Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol. 3, No. 8 Special Issue. Pg. 899.

OIL: an ontology infrastructure for the Semantic Web, by Dieter Fensel, Frank von Harmelen, Ian Horrocks, Deborah L. McGuinness, Peter F. Patel-Schneider. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 16 (2), March / April 2001, pp. 38 - 45

Ontologies for enterprise knowledge management, by Alexander Maedche, Boris Motik, Ljiljana Stojanovic, Rudi Studer and Raphael Volz. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 18 (2), March / April 2003, pp. 26 - 33

Ontologies for knowledge retrieval in organizational memories, by Minghong Liao, Andreas Abecker, Ansgar Bernardi, Knut Hinkelmann and Michael Sintek. In Proceedings of the Learning Software Organizations (LSO’99) workshop, Kaiserslauten, Germany, pp. 19--26, (June 1999)

Ontology languages for the Semantic Web, by Asuncion Gomez-Perez and Oscar Corcho. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 17 (1), January / February 2002, pp. 54 - 60

Organizational memory: a knowledge modelling approach, by Marian Mach, Martin Dzbor, Karol Furdik and Jan Paralic. 1999

An organizational memory information system using ontologies, by Jose Braga de Vasconcelos, Feliz Ribeiro Gouveia and Chris Kimble. Proceedings of the 3rd Conference of the Associacao Portuguesa de Sistemas de Informacao, University of Coimbra, Portugal, November, 2002

Power and control in document-driven knowledge management systems, by Peter H. Gray. Queen’s Management Research Centre for Knowledge-Based Enterprises, 2000

Providing for organizational memory in computer supported meetings, by Gerhard Schwabe. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences: 171-180

Seven years of industrial strength CSCA in an electric utility, by E. Jeffrey Conklin. Corporate Memory Systems, 1999
A short case study on the use of collaborative meeting tools in an organization

Towards a technology for organizational memories, by Andreas Abecker et. al. IEEE Intelligent Systems, May/June, 1998

Two complementary tools for the cooperation in a ministerial environment, by Wolfgang Prinz and Anja Syri. Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol. 3, No. 8 Special Issue. Pg. 843

Wicked problems and social complexity, by E. Jeffrey Conklin. CogNexus Institute, 2003

Wicked problems: naming the pain in organizations, by E. Jeffrey Conklin and William Weil. Touchstone Consulting Group Inc.

Workflow-embedded organizational memory access: the DECOR Project, by Andreas Abecker et. al.

Overview of Assessment

To be Advised