Having been involved in Knowledge Management since 1998, I see plenty of KM and KM vendors around, but there's regular reports on the death of KM or badmouthing KM as just a fad.
Michael E.D. Koenig, in KMWorld, however has researched some of the 'fad' business management philosophies of the late 20th century to help determine what has gone by the wayside, and what appears to be here for the long haul (or at least the foreseeable future). In his article, KM: the forest for all the trees, Keonig looked at the amount of articles written about each practice over time a period of time.
Management philosophies studied include Quality Circles, Total Quality Management, Business Process Re-engineering, and Knowledge Management.
The articles for Quality Circles (scale of 0 - 46) show that from 1977 until 1992 the quantity of articles started slowly (through 1980) rose quickly, but by 1992 had peaked before a big drop-off that they stopped tracking in 1996, with only a couple of articles written that year.
Total Quality Management (scale of 0 - 600) had a rapid rise in published literature from 1990 to 1994, slowly dropped for 4 years, and then quickly trailed off to a nominal quantity by 2001.
The quantity of articles for Business Process Re-engineering (scale of 0 - 1200) remained relatively low from 1990 through 1993, before spiking up to a high in 1998 and then sputtering to a negligable amount of articles in 2001.
Knowledge Management, on the other hand (scale of 0 - 900), started slowly in 1991, and continued to have only a few articles written about it each year until 1996, when a meteoric rise began, that peaked in 2002, had a dip in 2003, but has recovered in 2004 and 2005.
Is this the best measure of sustainability? Are there other factors? There are a couple of these factors that I need to note in upcoming posts, but for those practicing KM, or banking on KM, it still seems to be on the rise in terms of people talking and writing about it.