What is a knowledge map?

Knowledge maps are (mostly) interactive graphic directories or reference structures that provide an overview of a topic, a process or a group of experts (Eppler, 2019).

They are a modern instrument of knowledge management and can be classified into different types.


Types of knowledge maps

Knowledge structure maps

As their name suggests, knowledge structure maps reflect the structures of an issue or a field of knowledge. They depict the relationships and dependencies between items of information in a visual way. That’s why they also classify as visual maps. This visual aspect makes it easier to grasp the relationships as well as the entire topic, especially if the topics are more complex. Examples of knowledge structure maps are mind maps, concept maps and iMaps.


iMaps of the iMapping method (now available as Infinitiy Maps) stand out from other knowledge structure maps for three reasons. Firstly, they depict hierarchy very efficiently due to its nesting concepct. Secondly, iMaps have no limits in expansion. The third and most significant advantage is that an overview is given at any time regardless of the complexity and amount of information that the knowledge map contains. This is attributed to its scalable user interface with a zoom function. For instance you can zoom into „team meeting“ in an iMap that shows a comprehensive project process. At the same time, the overall project goals can be viewed at a glance by zooming out. 


Watch the video to see the smooth handling of iMaps.

Knowledge source map

Knowledge application maps show „which knowledge is necessary for carrying out certain processes or steps in a single process“ (Eppler, 2008). They depict existing knowledge stocks, which knowledge is demanded and who carries the knowledge. As a result, a knowledge application map points out who needs what knowledge or who uses it, when.


Knowledge development maps

Knowledge development maps show the gradual build-up of knowledge. This serves to identify gaps in knowledge, and thus these voids can be filled.



Eppler, Martin. (2008). A processbased classification of knowledge maps and application examples. Knowledge and Process Management. 15. 59 – 71. 10.1002/kpm.299.


Eppler, M. (2019). Wissenslandkarte. In N. Gronau, J. Becker, N. Kliewer, M. Leismeister & S. Overhage (Eds.), Enzyklopädie der Wirtschaftsinformatik Online-Lexikon (Spring 2019 ed.). Retrieved from http://www.enzyklopaedie-der-wirtschaftsinformatik.de/lexikon/daten-wissen/Wissensmanagement/Wissensorganisation–Instrumente-der-/Wissenslandkarte