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Barrier impact on organizational learning within complex organizations

Stephen McLaughlin (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, UK)
Robert A. Paton (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, UK)
Douglas K. Macbeth (School of Business and Management, University of Glasgow, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




The purpose of this research is to examine the manner in which employees access, create and share information and knowledge within a complex supply chain with a view to better understanding how to identify and manage barriers which may inhibit such exchanges.


An extensive literature review combined with an in‐depth case study analysis identified a range of potential transfer barriers. These in turn were examined in terms of their consistency of impact by an end‐to‐end process survey conducted within an IBM facility.


Barrier impact cannot be assumed to be uniform across the core processes of the organization. Process performance will be impacted upon in different ways and subject to varying degrees of influence by the transfer barriers. Barrier identification and management must take place at a process rather than at the organizational level.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based, in the main, on an extensive single company study. Although significant in terms of influencing both knowledge and information systems design and management the study/findings have still to be fully replicated across a range of public and private organizations.


The deployment of generic information technology and business systems needs to be questioned if they have been designed and implemented to satisfy organizational rather than process needs.



McLaughlin, S., Paton, R.A. and Macbeth, D.K. (2008), "Barrier impact on organizational learning within complex organizations", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 107-123.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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