Organizational knowledge management structure

Walczak, Steven
The Learning Organization Vol. 12 Issue: 4 pp. 330 – 339.

Purpose – To propose and evaluate a novel management structure that encourages knowledge sharing across an organization.

Design/methodology/approach – The extant literature on the impact of organizational culture and its link to management structure is examined and used to develop a new knowledge sharing management structure. Roadblocks to implementing a new management structure and methods for overcoming these impediments are discussed. The efficacy of the proposed management structure is evaluated empirically by examining its effect on organizations that have implemented portions of the proposed structure.

Findings – The foundational ideas behind the proposed knowledge management organizational structure and the structure itself have been implemented in parts at various organizations located both in the USA and internationally. While the full management structure model has not been evaluated, the portions implemented in various organizations have enabled these organizations to assume leading roles in their respective industries.

Research limitations/implications – The proposed knowledge sharing management structure has not been fully implemented under controlled circumstances. The empirical evaluation is performed on portions of the proposed model, thus the full impact of the proposed management structure may well exceed the described benefits and additional structural-shift roadblocks may limit the realization of the proposed benefits.

Practical implications – The proposed knowledge sharing management structure gives managers a practical way to approach cross organizational knowledge sharing, which is frequently identified as a theoretical benefit of knowledge management. Means for diminishing or circumventing recognized impediments to organizational change are described to further facilitate the implementation of the proposed cross-organizational knowledge sharing structure.

Originality/value – The proposed knowledge sharing management structure is organized around knowledge-based teams of knowledge workers, but further extends this concept to include larger knowledge groups to transform an organization into a knowledge-based organization. If an organization’s functional structure can be successfully transformed, then this enables the maximization of competitive advantage realized through knowledge management initiatives, more specifically through knowledge sharing. Upper level management, who are responsible for organizational change are the primary audience, though the principals described may be implemented through a more grass roots approach by lower level management.