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Impact of knowledge management dimensions on learning organization across hierarchies in India

Deepak Chawla (International Management Institute, New Delhi, India)
Himanshu Joshi (International Management Institute, New Delhi, India)


ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




Organization hierarchy plays a crucial role in the effective management of knowledge and learning. Typically, the organization hierarchy includes employees at the top, middle and lower levels. Employees possess a wealth of knowledge but often knowledge‐driven learning across organization hierarchies is not uniform due to various factors pertaining to the employees such as their literacy levels, available‐time, access to resources, reward and recognition, mindset, level of empowerment etc. This paper attempts to compare how employees at the top and middle level hierarchies in Indian organizations perceive a learning organization (LO). It also attempts to understand how the dimensions of knowledge management (KM) influence LO and tests whether this is significantly different for the aforementioned two hierarchy levels.


A convenience sample of 57 top and middle level executives from India participated in the study. The extent of learning practices was compared and tested for significant differences across the top and middle level hierarchies.


A comparison of the mean scores shows that there is hardly any difference in the way executives at the two levels perceive LO. All the mean scores are below five on a scale of six, pointing to scope for improvement. Further, no statistical difference is found in the mean scores. The impact of KM dimensions on LO was found to be statistically insignificant for the two levels. Most of the KM dimensions were found to positively impact the LO as per the proposed hypothesis.

Research limitations/implications

The sample comprises 34 responses from top and 17 from middle level executives. This small sample size can be largely attributed to respondents' reluctance, especially of those from the public sector organizations, to openly share their views. A larger representation of respondents from the middle level hierarchy would certainly enhance the generalization of results. This low response rate has limited the use of the regression analysis technique as against any other powerful explanatory techniques.

Practical implications

The findings of this study can provide insights to organizations on the role of hierarchies in the management of knowledge and learning which can, in turn, help in developing best practices to manage the same.


The paper addresses the paucity of empirical research done to examine whether top and middle level executives perceive LO differently. It also studies the impact of KM on LO and provides evidence to demonstrate the difference in perception among different hierarchy levels. The value added is in identifying future areas of research by extending this synergy between KM and LO to enhance performance and competitiveness. This approach could be adopted to examine the relationship in different socio‐economic contexts and cultures.



Chawla, D. and Joshi, H. (2011), "Impact of knowledge management dimensions on learning organization across hierarchies in India", VINE, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 334-357.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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