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Knowledge management and organizational culture: a theoretical integrative framework

Rajnish Kumar Rai (Based at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




Organizational culture is a critical factor in building and reinforcing knowledge management in organizations. However, there is no theoretical framework that comprehensively explains the effect of organizational culture on knowledge management in organizations. This paper endeavors to develop a theoretical integrative framework for organizational knowledge management and organizational culture.


This is a conceptual paper. It modifies the “competing value framework” by adding a new dimension representing ethical and trusting culture, and then integrates it with the SECI model of knowledge creation and conversion by identifying the conceptual parallels between the two frameworks and then analyzing the interaction effects among the dimensions.


Based on the congruity between the modified competing values framework and the knowledge creation and conversion framework, the paper formulates six propositions about the propensity of organizations of different dominant cultural styles to engage in the four processes of knowledge creation and conversion.

Research limitations/implications

The dynamic nature of the framework presented in the paper points to the importance of longitudinal and comparative research in understanding the effects of organizational culture on organizational knowledge management systems in organizations.

Practical implications

The proposed integrative framework would facilitate organizational learning and lead to the improvement of knowledge management practices in organizations as it helps managers to understand the linkages between culture and knowledge management.


This paper presents a new framework linking organizational culture to knowledge management. It moves away from analyzing culture only in terms of its positive and negative influences on knowledge management. Instead, it suggests a typology of the kind of knowledge management processes that organizations are likely to focus on depending on the culture that prevails in an organization.



Rai, R.K. (2011), "Knowledge management and organizational culture: a theoretical integrative framework", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 779-801.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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