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Organizational knowledge leadership: An empirical examination of knowledge management by top executive leaders

Chandrashekhar Lakshman (Kondhwa, Pune, India)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 12 June 2009




Knowledge management as a key top executive function has not been sufficiently explored in the leadership literature. This study seeks to examine the role of top executives in knowledge management by first building theoretical hypotheses and subsequently testing them. Hypotheses are developed through the integration of the knowledge management and leadership literatures and tested using CEO interviews published in Harvard Business Review.


Using the method of structured content analysis developed by Jauch et al., this study uses these HBR interviews and develops questionnaire instruments through which data are collected from respondents in a structured fashion. This innovative method involves the distribution of these published interviews with top executives of organizations (such as CEOs) to multiple groups of respondents, who then carefully read the interviews and responded to the structured questions developed for the purpose of assessing the relevant constructs in the study. Such structured content analysis allows for both the assessment of inter‐rater reliability and testing the theoretical relationships identified in the theory‐building stage.


The major hypotheses, relating cause‐effect beliefs held by the CEOs and their knowledge management practices to performance measures and leadership perceptions, were supported.

Research limitations/implications

The CEOs included in the study were not randomly chosen but chosen from a set of interviews (acquired) from a published source. The use of acquired interviews may also be the reason for not finding stronger relationships across the variables being examined here.

Practical implications

The paper has studied the importance of information acquisition, information use, and more generally information and knowledge management as key leader functions or behaviors. Overall, the findings and the framework used here point to the importance of the role of leaders (top executives) in information and knowledge management.


This is a seminal investigation of knowledge leadership by top executives. Such work has not existed in the literature to date, except in the qualitative mode.



Lakshman, C. (2009), "Organizational knowledge leadership: An empirical examination of knowledge management by top executive leaders", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 338-364.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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