Tarapanoff, Kira, editor. Intelligência organizacional e competitiva. Brasilía: Editora Universidade de Brasilía, 2001. 343 p. ISBN 85-230-0637-0 [No price given]
We don't generally review books in languages other than English in Information Research, but, as we are diversifying into the Luso/Hispanic world, it seems appropriate to include reviews of appropriate books. This is a collection on, as even the English reader will detect, 'organizational and competitive intelligence'. The editor (represented on the title page as 'organizadora' - which presumably indicates a slightly different role than 'editor') has brought together contributions from eleven authors (including herself) from both academia and business to present twelve chapters on a diverse set of topics.
The book is divided into two parts: Part I, theoretical background, and Part II, methods. Part I includes six chapters which deal with the 'context of change', with attention to the idea of the global information society; the organizational context, which presents a contingency theory of organizations but devotes most space to a consideration of the problems of a dynamic environment; monitoring the business environment; the management of information and knowledge; and concepts and models of knowledge management. All of the chapters are well supported by references to the relevant literature and constitute an excellent introduction to the topics.
I was interested, of course, to see what is made of 'knowledge management' in Brazil, as I am generally faced with incomprehension as to how knowledge might be managed when I address the subject in lectures I give at the Universidade do Porto. The subject is dealt with rather uncritically in the final two chapters of Part I and the contradictions within the concept are not explored. The generic model of 'gestão do conhecimento' on page 148, looks very much like the generally understood life-cycle of information or life-cycle of records in records management. The definitions of 'knowledge' in terms of 'information' are accepted without comment and Nonaka & Takeuchi's mis-handling of Polanyi's concept of 'tacit knowledge' is also accepted with comment. However, all of these issues are dealt with in the current (October 2002) issue of Information Research, so there is no need to rehearse them further, here.
Part II of the book, 'methods and techniques of competitive intelligence', presents chapters on Porter's 'five forces' model; critical success factors; SWOT; balanced scorecard; benchmarking; data mining; and data warehousing. These are useful introductions to the methods and examples of their use is given. I was a little surprised, however, at some of the omissions in this respect. For example, Huotari's work using the concept of 'critical success factors' is not referenced, although one of the papers is freely available in this journal, nor is the fact that Huotari's work also employed the 'value chain', which is dealt with in the chapter on Porter's 'five forces'.
Small points apart, this is a useful text and I have no doubt that it will be widely used in Brazil and beyond in courses on information management and related topics.
Professor Tom Wilson