A knowledge policy is a framework a businesses uses in the generation, storage, and communication of knowledge. The policy must balance the need to keep pace with innovation while protecting the company's security and other interests, such as the need to conceal proprietary knowledge to recoup the costs of knowledge creation. Companies can approach such policies from a variety of perspectives, and some industries tend to have more advanced policies than others to reflect the kind of work they do.
One aspect of a knowledge policy surrounds the creation of information and learning tools. The company may encourage staff members to create and acquire knowledge by working within the company as well as reaching out for information from other sources. This can include research online and in other settings, as well as attending conferences and developing training materials. Within an organization, knowledge sharing can be extremely valuable, and the company often recommends it as a way to build ties and make the company stronger.
Adequate systems for storing and controlling knowledge are also necessary. Reliable storage systems are necessary to make the knowledge accessible when it is needed. Companies may have concerns about security with some topics because they can invest substantial research. Information technology policies often intersect with the knowledge policy. Tools like firewalls prevent unauthorized release of information, while company publications can go in the other direction and distribute material widely to members of the public if it will have a benefit for the company.
Knowledge transference, whether within or outside an organization, is also important in a knowledge policy. Knowledge tends to be less useful if it is not shared, and employees need to know how and when to share knowledge. Some workplaces facilitate a highly collaborative atmosphere where staff members share knowledge with each other and may actively seek out specific staff members to learn. Others may have a more closed environment where employees tend to focus on their own projects and do not share material. There can be risks and benefits to both approaches.
If a company does not have clear policies, it can experience problems, especially with electronic communications. Employees may unwittingly release information without realizing they were not supposed to, or other companies in the industry may outstrip it with more advanced policies that allow for the development of complex projects. Cooperation and information sharing between companies can sometimes be beneficial, but only if both parties have knowledge that will be mutually useful, and a knowledge policy to facilitate the exchange.