Developing organisational decision‐making capability: a knowledge manager's guide

Jane McKenzie (Director of the KN Forum at Henley Business School, University of Reading, Henley on Thames, UK)
Christine van Winkelen (Visiting Academic Fellow at Henley Business School, University of Reading, Henley on Thames, UK)
Sindy Grewal (Head of Knowledge Mobilisation at the National Audit Office, London, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 31 May 2011



Decisions are integral to daily business practice. Sound and agile decision making is argued to be a core strategic capability. Knowledge helps avoid the consequences of ill‐informed decisions. Facts and expertise provide content; know‐how about the pitfalls and requirements of thinking through problems in different contexts contributes to sound process. This paper seeks to offer a staged framework to guide organisational discussions about how knowledge management (KM) can contribute to better decision‐making capability.


Consistent with a maturity model approach, the study used an interactive multi‐method design to explore knowledge and decision making with experienced practitioners. Guided by the literature the authors collected input via three focus groups and eight interviews with KM practitioners plus 19 interviews with senior decision makers chosen for their good track record. From the combination of input five stages of capability building in five key areas of intellectual capital development were identified.


The output is a maturity model that can be used to assess organisational status in knowledge‐enabled decision making and plan for relevant KM interventions to improve organisational capability across a range of contexts.

Practical implications

A discussion around current status raises awareness of the pitfalls that can lead to poor or unsound decisions. This can help individuals reflect on how to improve their practice, and organisations to learn systematically from past experience, improve governance of the decision‐making process and progressively improve capability by planning deliberate developmental action.


The paper provides a rigorously developed tool for systematic evaluation and planning about a critical business capability.



McKenzie, J., van Winkelen, C. and Grewal, S. (2011), "Developing organisational decision‐making capability: a knowledge manager's guide", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 403-421.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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