The significance of the context for managing organisational knowledge

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Business




Standing, C. & Benson, S. (2002). The significance of the context for managing organisational knowledge. Journal of Systems & Information Technology. 6(1), p.1-12. Available here


The traditional realm of information systems has been the management of data and information. For the past few years information systems researchers and practitioners have been increasingly concerned with the management of knowledge. Knowledge management, however is not the sole concern of the information systems community but is also the concern of management and accounting researchers. According to much of the literature on knowledge management a conducive organisational culture is a prerequisite for the effective management of knowledge. In particular, organisations which emphasise the role and importance of the individual, often in a competitive arena, are less likely to foster sharing of knowledge. Much attention in the information systems community has been focused on the types of organisational knowledge and the usefulness of information technology in managing it. This paper rather than addressing these themes examines the context for knowledge management. The issue of appropriate organisational cultures for effective knowledge management is the main theme. A study of a university is used to examine the influence of organisational culture and climate on proposed knowledge management initiatives. The University in the study is operating in a climate of rationalisation, corporatisation and marketisation; these characteristics having a profound influence on the organisational culture. The staff felt that the competitive environment, the lack of trust and the formality of many business practices would work against knowledge sharing. It is argued that in the future that most corporate cultures will transform to better accommodate a number of features that combine to form a view of the “new organisation”. The effective management of knowledge is just one of the requirements of this new organisational form. Unfortunately, until organisations as a whole begin to transform many IT driven knowledge management practices will flounder on the rocks of outdated management practices and organisational culture.





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