Conflict in Knowledge

According to Lastres (2011, p. 6),the turn of 21st century came with a boom in the knowledge generation and consumption. This has been exacerbated by the invention of the internet and social media platforms, which have changed how information is generated, transferred and interpreted. This explosion, according to Lastres (2011, p. 6),has been the precursor to the conflict in knowledge witnessed across the global arena of information sharing. He notes that knowledge sharing and transfer has taken varied positions with the same kind of knowledge being used and applied differently even in same environment. These variations in the interpretation and application of knowledge are the root cause for the conflicting knowledge that is generated regularly all over the world. Wehr (2010, p. 7) notes that this varied views and interpretations of the same piece of knowledge work to the detriment of many enterprises that seek to use this knowledge as a resource for production and service.

Another source of conflict in knowledge is the concept of data ownership, which has come to be not only controversial but also elusive. Wheatley (2001, p. 5)observes that this has also been made worse by the dynamic technological innovations that make the pinpointing of data ownership difficult to define. Similarly, Wheatley (2001, p. 6)notes that these problem is also a factor that is brought about by the many players involved in the process of generating and transferring knowledge from one place to the other. Wheatley (2001, p. 6)writes that anotable feature in all these processes is that mechanisms, which is attached to the processing of information, are subject to the interpretation of individual players and orthogonal used in the transfer of that knowledge.

This paper discusses the conflicting nature of knowledge in the contemporary society in line with the emerging technologies like social networks as well as the controversial and elusive concept of data ownership.

Development of Conflicting Knowledge

According to Wehr (2010, p. 7), conflicting knowledge is not alien to humankind even though its climax had only been hit in the 21st century through technological advancements. Conflict in knowledge, as much as it is historical to man, exists across all humanity. It is usual that any society inhabited by people should experience conflict in its repository of knowledge so that important processes can be triggered. After all, Wehr (2010, p. 7) has argued that if the Romans did not believe that the world was flat, Eratosthenes could not have gone down to research and come up with the new knowledge that people have about the shape of the world today. It is important to note that some knowledge may be acceptable as true in one society, while at the same time conflict with the belief of another society.

Another construct about conflict in knowledge is the generational gap between the young and the old as well as that between people of different class. For instance, Zack (1999, p. 10) notes that managers of an organization will tend to view and interpret information in terms of business objectives, while the same information may be irrelevant to people working in mines such as laborers. Similarly, Zack (1999, p. 10) confirms that it is normal for different people to use and interpret information, using different models, depending on their status in the society and the use for which that piece of information is sought.

Conflict in Knowledge Sharing and Social Networking

Apart from the above, Girard & Girard (2010, p. 2) note that technology has played a bigger role in the emergence of not only conflicting knowledge but also conflict in knowledge. The latter is serious because if not taken carefully can cause confusion and loss in terms of time and finance to a business enterprise. Girard & Girard (2010, p. 2) explore this subject and point out to social networks like Facebook and Twitter as having changed the way knowledge is created and shared in a society. A case in point is the workers of a business organization who chose to start a gossip about the management staff in their organization on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter and spread information about the sackings of some of their colleagues. Thus, knowledge  as Seo, Pellegrino & Engelhard (2011, p. 11) note, can cause unrest within that organization, which may translate to huge losses to the company.

Similarly, social networks have not only been blamed for transfer of false information but also as a breeding ground for propaganda, which is known to have brought down veteran governments like in Egypt. In this case, Malone, Crowston & Herman (2003, p. 12) note that this is not conflict in knowledge per se, but rather a way of how technology has managed to fuel emergence of varied views in the long time held knowledge within a society. Additionally, Malone, Crowston & Herman (2003, p. 12) observe that social networks, besides acting as propellers for conflicting knowledge, has also inhibited the kind of information and knowledge that can be shared between people who are closely related. For example, the knowledge shared between the employer and the employee. He cites an instance, where the boss may ask his employee to be a friend on platform like Facebook. The employee may accept this friendly request but will engage in self-regulatory not to give any knowledge that is offensive to their employer.

This conflict in knowledge is also explicit between students and their teachers. For instance, Gilbert (2005, p. 10) indicates that most students, especially those using social networks, have not developed a sense of professionalism in themselves. Consequently, Gilbert (2005, p. 10) believes that they are less cautious about the image they project on social networks irrespective of whether they are visible to their teachers. 

According to Zack (1999, p. 10), social networks also bring about workplace conflicts in knowledge in organizations, where management propagates for limited use of those communication channels, which are perceived as not official. In such instances, the management cites distraction as a major consequence in the use of these technologies and goes ahead to establish monitoring systems to check for employees’ personal pages and comments, which can harm the organization’s operation. In contrast, Golden (2009, p. 3) notes that some enterprises require employees to operate blogs or to twitter as a way of marketing the enterprise. However, conflict in knowledge arises, when some managers in companies like Microsoft encourage the use of social networking as a marketing tool, while others discourage them for being the major cause of mismanagement of time.

According to Malone, Crowston & Herman (2003, p. 12), conflict in knowledge concerning the use of social networks in companies arises, when the issue of accessibility is evaluated against the benefits that will accrue from this exposure. He argues that younger managers will prefer marketing the company through social networking, where they get comments about their products through networking. However, the older generation may view this as a too much venture in marketing, as they do not visualize the importance of networking. Harorimana (2010, p. 6) observes that this variation in knowledge about the power of social network between the two generational approaches to models of communication is also another source of conflicts in companies. He notes that there is a need for a wakeup call to establish standardization as businesses seek to evolve through official policies in the way of managing new trends in the process of creating and sharing information.

Harorimana (2010, p. 7) further indicates that the question of knowledge management in contemporary world coupled with globalization should rest on the level of accessibility and exposure an organization seeks to attain. In this regard, conflict in knowledge on various communication models will be continually shaped by the generational leadership as different generations seek to find a consensus on the issue of knowledge management in the world that is open to all.

Similarly, Seo, Pellegrino & Engelhard (2011, p. 11) argue that conflict in knowledge management in organization emanates from the fact that companies and organization have policies, which outline the channels through which knowledge can travel. In this perking order, some companies require an upward or downward flow of information with specific steps followed. With social networking, this order is, sometimes, overlooked if not totally eliminated. This conflict in knowledge is not only exemplified in the pecking order in communication channels but also in the time used to reply to particular communication. For instance, Seo, Pellegrino & Engelhard (2011, p. 11) observe that it is normal for e-mails to be replied within 24 hours, while social networking takes a lower priority and sometimes instant.

This change in the structure of communication channels and response time has their advantages and disadvantages, which can be explored within an organization in the sharing of knowledge. For instance, Wehr (2010, p. 7) notes that the pecking order in the communication channels are advantages because phone calls or e-mails are specific in nature as they are directed to particular people. On the other hand, social networkings are, sometimes, public forum with many targets, hence, making knowledge sharing reckless and unhealthy.

Moreover, Wehr (2010, p. 9) observes that social networking has brought a complete revolution on knowledge sharing and, therefore, people in work place need to weigh what they communicate through social networks before doing the same. This is because social networking cannot entirely sort out the conflict between business issues and personal friendship. In this regard, Wehr (2010, p. 9) suggests that it will be advisable for social network users to create their norms, while using them, so as to deal with conflicting knowledge as they chuckle between business and personal communication. On the other hand,Lastres (2011, p. 6) argues that social networking is likely to exacerbate conflict in knowledge, as old users exit the network and new ones pick it up. These new entrant may not be aware of business rules, existing on the network, which may make them to share too much information, thus, endangering the organization.

A future trend in social networking is likely to see social network users becoming not only selective in the kind of information they put on social network but also the kind of social network they use. This is because of the influx of many social network sites, some of which do not observe etiquette and allow communication of information that is vulgar and offensive. It is also expected that many social network users will become more cautious with the information they share on networks. This will be a break from the current oblivion about information sharing.

Data Ownership and Conflict in Knowledge

According to Golden (2009, p. 3), data ownership emerged in knowledge management with the advent of different players in the process of knowledge creation. For instance, as technology becomes advanced the number of players in the process of knowledge creation increases, some of which are beyond the control of the originators of this knowledge. Lack of control by knowledge originators can cause misunderstanding and misrepresentation of knowledge. This can easily turn out detrimental to the users of such information. Golden (2009, p. 3) argues that the process of converting raw data into useful information is complex and requires establishing of defined procedures if the knowledge generated is going to be helpful as intended.

Wheatley (2001, p. 20) observes that in order to avoid conflict in knowledge, there is a need for information originators to ensure the quality of their information before it is released out to the consumers. In essence, Wheatley (2001, p. 20) suggests that the quality of knowledge in the public wholly depends on the creators of that knowledge. They are charged with the duty of ensuring that standards are set, which meets the expectations of the final consumer. This is through institution of gauges and measurement structures and channels to report back on the conformance of the released information to set out standards.

However, Wheatley (2001, p. 20) observes that this duty in controlling conflicts faces a lot of challenges as different players can assume ownership of data at particular time, when that information is within their control. For instance, on the lower end in the use of knowledge is the consumer of knowledge who can rightfully assume the ownership status of information at such a time, when the information is in their control. Zack (1999, p. 13) argues that this assumption of ownership strips the originator of information the right to impose on how that information is to be interpreted. On the whole, this change in ownership indicates that the creator of that knowledge cannot control conflicting interpretation of that knowledge as consumers assume the ownership status.

Similarly, consumer ownership of data is a relatively wide concept as the knowledge is already passed through other several owners who might have already changed the meaning of that piece of information. Evidently, Zack (1999, p. 16) notes that the meaning of information, held by a consumer, is solely subject to the processes that that piece of information went through in the transfer process. In this way, Wheatley (2001, p. 20) notes that the value, derived from knowledge created by the originator, may not meet the set standards by the creator.

Malone, Crowston, & Herman (2003, p. 12) note that this argument can be illustrated in an organization dealing with marketing of products. In these organizations, once the information is received in the sales department, it becomes part of the proper operation procedures in the department, even though that information may be subject to verification. This means that the sale department can claim ownership of that information and, therefore, choose to use it in its marketing procedures.

Similarly, Harorimana (2010, p. 4) observes that conflict in knowledge is revealed in corporate ownership of information. An example is in the information and technology firms, where there exist unwritten or sometimes written rules that all data entered or created in the organization becomes the property of that firm. In the process, the value and quality attached to the knowledge created depends on the interpretation of that firm, which first derives benefit before dissemination. Harorimana (2010, p. 4) notes that this model of conflict in knowledge is exampled in banking industry, where the bank collects customers’ details from customers themselves and sometimes from vendors and this information becomes the property of the bank. It is notable that customers, who are legitimately the owners of such information sometimes, are not allowed to access this information.


The discussion has highlighted two issues in knowledge creation and sharing, which cause conflict in knowledge. It has been noted that social networking is a powerful tool of communication being experienced with two generations, which makes the information passed through these media to assume a conflicting nature, even though the conflict may be inexistence.

On the other hand, the issue of data ownership has been explored and established that different players in the process of creation and sharing of information can cause conflict in the value and quality attached to any particular piece of knowledge.

Order now

Related essays