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Title: A fragmented field : An investigation into knowledge management diversity and divergence
Author: Onions, Patrick E. W.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 053X
Awarding Body: Leeds Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Leeds Beckett University
Date of Award: 2010
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Many domains and disciplines have claimed territory in the field, yet knowledge management remains an extraordinarily difficult field to describe. It has an enormous breadth of relevance and has been regarded as an irreconcilable collection of concepts and techniques, a vague subject that is difficult to clarify and delineate. Diversity has been seen to afflict practitioners; displaying disorganised activities, being difficult to explain, risky, diluted by rebadged technology, and theory diverging from practice. An inductive research strategy was used to study diversity and divergence. A literature review established that diversity and divergence have been observed by literature, but their causes have not been formally studied. A review of literature discussing practice found far more concern for implementation issues, and that private sector KM appeared more likely to be generic than public sector. A review of the backgrounds, trends and PEST factors found that the South African context was unique and its knowledge management should reflect that. The study of research employed a content analysis method applied to a large volume of literature. This discovered that literature has a predominantly practical focus, verified the presence of diversity in literature, and that knowledge management diversity is far broader than recognised in literature. No single model or framework comprehensively embraces all the diversity found without being impractically abstract. The study of practice compared the theoretically derived models to the solutions constructed by practice. This found the projects did not tailor their solutions to the unique environment, practitioners chose to use a small subset of theory, and there was a strong bias towards technology. A Grounded Theory Method was then applied to four large South African knowledge management initiatives. This identified twenty phenomena that influenced project direction, many of which inhibiting diversity and few having previously been considered as factors by research. It is concluded that knowledge management should be regarded as an umbrella label and that a body of knowledge approach is the most suitable path forward for both research and practice in light of the diversity and divergence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available