Managing knowledge: the critical role of culture as a mediator of systems

Document Type

Journal Article


IGI Global


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Business / Centre for Innovative Practice




Barratt-Pugh, L.., Kennett, P, & Bahn, S. (2013). Managing knowledge: the critical role of culture as a mediator of systems. International Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(2), 20-37. Availablehere


For organisations, an environment of continuous change positions knowledge as the source of the key competitive advantage and simultaneously mediates change to more fluid structures. More flexible structures challenge the traditions of knowledge flowing through hierarchical and formal chains of command. The emerging fluid and knowledge based organisational structures present new challenges for developing, retaining and disseminating organisational knowledge. An area of highly contested debate involves the harmony and integration of Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) and changing organisational structures. The paper explores KMS and cultural interface through an analysis of three mature organisational cases, identifying the key barriers that appear to prevent the effective use of KMS. The study constructs a framework for exploring cultural integration issues. The study confirms the primacy of culture in shaping integration and the imperative of resource learning and development programmes. The findings indicate that the critical issues organisations should explore are the legitimacy of authoring, the transparency of filtering and attribution, and the awareness of cultural dissonance. For practitioners the study provides a framework for exploring employee participation relationships, while academically the study confirms how existing cultural relations will shape KMS relations and how the exploration of existing cultural exchange practices should be equally weighted with practices to build employee capability. Generating ownership may be the key to success.