Culture-Free or Culture-Bound? A Boundary Spanning Perspective on Learning in Knowledge Management Systems

Culture-Free or Culture-Bound? A Boundary Spanning Perspective on Learning in Knowledge Management Systems

Robert M. Mason (Florida State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch273
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Abstract

Knowledge management systems (KMSs) have been criticized as having a North American bias. The cultural dimension of KMSs, particularly the relationship of learning and culture in KM projects, are rarely discussed. This paper addresses these concerns in a review of the conceptual foundations for KM and by examining implementations of KM projects. Despite the evolutionary changes in how KM is viewed, KMSs, as they have been designed, implemented, and reported, do not appear to provide for cultural diversity among users. Instead, the reports of KMSs indicate that such systems seek to create and maintain a homogeneous organizational culture, and the adoption of such a shared culture appears to be a prerequisite for success. The paper discusses KMSs as systems that exhibit boundary spanning objects and processes in three different categories, and an analysis of reported projects reveals that boundary spanning across national and ethnic boundaries is rare.

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