The Role of Culture in Knowledge Management: A Case Study of Two Global Firms

The Role of Culture in Knowledge Management: A Case Study of Two Global Firms

Dorothy Leidner, Maryam Alavi, Timothy Kayworth
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch175
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Knowledge management (KM) approaches have been broadly considered to entail either a focus on organizing communities or a focus on the process of knowledge creation, sharing, and distribution. While these two approaches are not mutually exclusive and organizations may adopt aspects of both, the two approaches entail different challenges. Some organizational cultures might be more receptive to the community approach, whereas others may be more receptive to the process approach. Although culture has been cited widely as a challenge in knowledge management initiatives, and although many studies have considered the implications of organizational culture on knowledge sharing, few empirical studies address the influence of culture on the approach taken to knowledge management. Using a case study approach to compare and contrast the cultures and knowledge management approaches of two organizations, the study suggests ways in which organizational culture influences knowledge management initiatives as well as the evolution of knowledge management in organizations. Whereas in one organization, the KM effort became little more than an information repository, in the second organization, the KM effort evolved into a highly collaborative system fostering the formation of electronic communities.

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