Knowledge management in three organizations: An exploratory study

F. C.Gray Southon, Ross J. Todd, Megan Seneque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A major professional concern for people undertaking knowledge management initiatives is interpreting the field for managers and others in their organization. This exploratory research sought to investigate the dynamics of knowledge in organizations: how (if at all) it was perceived, interpreted, utilized, and integrated into the functions, processes, and outputs of the organization. Three organizations with differing functions and outputs were studied: a law firm, an educational institution, and a suburban local council, each being between 100 and 200 employees in size. Semistructured interviews (both individual and small group) were carried out with people at all levels to gather perceptions of the dynamics of knowledge in that organization. It was found that knowledge structures and cultures differed substantially between organizations, and were heavily influenced by the commercial environment and the governing structures. People at all levels had substantial awareness of the nature of knowledge within the organization, and there were a significant number of initiatives targeted at improving the way that knowledge was used. The concept of knowledge itself was quite unproblematic, although it was considerably more complex and nuanced than most definitions allow for. Information services had an important, although not a central role in knowledge dynamics. These findings raise a number of questions about the suitability of much knowledge management theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1047-1059
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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