Knowledge Management Research & Practice

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 227–236 | Cite as

Knowledge objects: a formal construct for material, information and role dependences

  • Stefano Borgo
  • Giandomenico Pozza


Information technology has embraced the ontological approach to expand its capacity to deal with knowledge of different kinds. The subsequent combination of formal concerns and philosophical considerations has led to the development of new knowledge systems that rely on foundational distinctions of entity type such as object, process, property and role. This change has attracted attention to the distinction between types of entity in the enterprise. The result is a compartmentalisation of the information, which, although well motivated and technically fruitful, is not always optimal for knowledge management (KM) tasks where one aims at an integrated view of information. This paper focuses on the notion of knowledge object understood as a formal construct for knowledge modelling and KM systems. The approach starts from formal and ontological analysis with an eye to modelling knowledge at large. The paper motivates the introduction of a notion of knowledge object as a new type of entity that emerges from the explicit interaction of material entities, information entities and roles within an enterprise. The main goals of this work are: to discuss the capacity of knowledge objects to tie knowledge and roles in an (enterprise) context; to model aspects of enterprise knowledge that escape standard ontological approaches; and to describe knowledge objects as a conceptual tool that can be integrated within existing formal systems.


knowledge object ontology knowledge management knowledge and information 



The authors thank the reviewers for their comments, which helped to improve the presentation of the material. The paper contributes to the IZSVe 19/08 RC project ‘Analisi e definizione di una metodologia operativa per migliorare la gestione dei dati relativi al conferimento di campioni all’Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, con particolare riferimento alla sicurezza alimentare’ (funded by the Italian Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche sociali).


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefano Borgo
    • 1
  • Giandomenico Pozza
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Applied Ontology, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (CNR) and Free University of Bolzano-BozenItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle VenezieLegnaroItaly

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