How to Find
Internal knowledge markets can facilitate information sharing
within large organizations. The trick for executives is figuring
out how to make them work.
BY HIND BENBYA AND MARSHALL VAN ALSTYNE
help employees locate
; Seed the internal
with key content
and then subsidize
development of additional solutions.
; Let prices float in the
; Manage the knowledge market like a
market maker or the
Federal Reserve —
not like a central
LOS ANGELES-BASED AECOM Technology
had a problem. An AECOM plant in Argentina had
made a successful move into biofuels processing and
was producing sugar dust as a byproduct of its biofuels production. The problem: Airborne sugar dust
can be explosive — and AECOM was concerned
about the possibility of having fireballs near its fuel
processing. A team of AECOM employees based in
London had several ideas, but after weeks of back
and forth, a solution finally emerged — via an internal company bulletin board — from an AECOM
engineer in Australia.
The type of challenge AECOM faced — locating
internal knowledge on a specialized topic — exists
in any large organization. The larger and more segmented the company, the harder it is to match its
people to its problems. As Lewis Platt, former CEO
of Hewlett-Packard, once noted, “If only HP knew
what HP knows, we would be three times more
productive.” How can a large organization address
the challenges of managing information flows internally?
One answer is an internal
knowledge market. In broad
terms, internal knowledge markets are protected environments
where users trade their knowledge via price mechanisms.
knowledge market is typically
users to experts
WINTER 2011 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW 65