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Expert evaluation study of an autopoietic model of knowledge

Paul Parboteeah (PhD student and University Teacher, Department of Information Science at Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Thomas W. Jackson (Senior Lecturer, Department of Information Science at Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




The aim of the autopoietic model of knowledge is to act as a common foundation for KM to overcome the numerous knowledge management failures highlighted by the literature attributed to inaccurate or constantly debated definitions of knowledge. This paper seeks to evaluate such a model.


Participants for this interpretivist evaluation study were selected by convenience sampling. Experts known to the authors were asked to participate, and 12 took part. Face‐to‐face interviews were conducted and lasted between 45 to 60 minutes. Member checking was used during the interviews. The data was analysed using the recursive abstraction method.


The study highlighted the complexities of conducting an expert evaluation of a model that was deemed both too high level and too low level by the experts. The study highlighted the challenge of evaluating a model that is theoretically correct, but required acceptance in the knowledge management discipline. The study also showed that the application of autopoiesis to knowledge management has potential, but is still in its infancy.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitation of this study came from the initial autopoietic model of knowledge: most experts found it too difficult to engage with in the time available. The knowledge management foundation aspired to by applying autopoiesis to the domain is hard to achieve as little value was placed on models by some experts.


The evaluation of the autopoietic model of knowledge presented in this paper represents the first expert evaluation of an autopoietic epistemology. The study is an incremental step towards providing a sound conceptual foundation for knowledge management.



Parboteeah, P. and Jackson, T.W. (2011), "Expert evaluation study of an autopoietic model of knowledge", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 688-699.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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