Evaluating Knowledge Claims
As McElroy (2002) points out, within the KM field one of the most underrated KM functions is that known
as validation. Validation simply means that workers in an organization not only use knowledge to perform
their job function but also need to be constantly evaluating whether the knowledge-in-use is effective at
achieving its intended purpose. This is important because knowledge usually is not the same as truth.
When something is always true, it becomes a valid knowledge claim. For example, one might claim that
whenever a baseball is hit into the air it inevitably falls back to earth. Because this happens 100% of the
time, we say that this claim is true and valid. For something to be true, it must work 100% of the time.
For something to be valid, it must work in achieving the intended goal as often as necessary for you to
feel that it is consistent and reliable. Thus, a particular knowledge claim may work 96% of the time and
not be completely true but also be valid. Now the most important point: in organizations, the vast majority
of knowledge claims relating to management and business strategy are not true, they are merely
Knowledge claims can fall into several categories including:
1. Validated knowledge claims that have been proven to reliable produce the desired outcome.
2. Unvalidated knowledge claims are those that have not yet been sufficiently tested to arrive at an
3. Invalidated knowledge claims are those that have been proven to be false or invalid.
4. Inactive knowledge claims are those that have not yet been the subject of evaluation.
Knowledge claims can be evaluated in several different ways:
1. Face Validity – Do they appear through observation to have sufficient merit to give reason to
believe that they will work effectively to produce the desired outcome reliably well?
2. Performance Validity – Experience has demonstrated that the claim, when used, reliably yields
the desired outcome effectively. This is a much more powerful test of the validity of a knowledge
claim than is face validity.
3. Parallel Validity – Although the claim in question has not yet been proven or disproven to be
effective, a claim or series of claims that are essentially similar have been validated as being
When you are conducting your own knowledge claim evaluations, you will be operating mainly within the
realm of face validity, as you most likely will not have any performance data available to help support,
corroborate, or invalidate the claims.
The concept of organizational learning is an idea that grew out of the writings, during the 1970s, of
scholars at MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie-Mellon, including Chris Argyris, Donald Schon, James March,
and Herbert Simon. More recently, writers such as Peter Senge and Reg Revans have helped to
popularize this field. A basic premise of this discipline is the notion of collective, or shared learning, and
Action learning occurs when people consciously seek to improve their ability to learn from experience.
Although many people learn from experience, some learn much more from the same experience than
other people. Action learning involves four important steps: action, reflection, conceptualization, and
experimentation, which are linked in a cycle.
If employees do not complete all steps in this cycle, they are likely to be hindered in their learning efforts.
While only individuals can learn from experience, groups, teams, and organizations (collectives) can
share common lessons learned that they rely upon for making judgments and decisions. One theory of
organizational learning holds that organizations often fail because they continue to repeat the same
mistakes over, as they have not learned the proper lessons from past experience. According to this view,
organizational performance can be improved by increasing the capacity of the individuals and teams in
the organization to learn richer, more valid lessons from experience through organizational learning.
Purchase answer to see full attachment