The intellectual core and impact of the knowledge management academic discipline

Alexander Serenko (Based at the Faculty of Business Administration, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada)
Nick Bontis (Based at the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 15 February 2013



The purpose of this paper is two‐fold: to explore the intellectual core of the knowledge management (KM) academic discipline in order to test whether it exhibits signs of a reference discipline; and to analyze the theoretical and practical impact of the discipline.


The most influential articles published in the Journal of Knowledge Management were selected and their cited and citing works were scientometrically analysed.


The KM discipline: builds its knowledge primarily upon research reports published in the English language; successfully disseminates its knowledge in both English and non‐English publications; does not exhibit a problematic self‐citation behavior; uses books and practitioner journals in the development of KM theory; converts experiential knowledge into academic knowledge; is not yet a reference discipline, but is progressing well towards becoming one; exerts a somewhat limited direct impact on practice; and is not a scientific fad.

Practical implications

KM researchers need to become aware of and use knowledge published in non‐English outlets. Given the status of KM as an applied discipline, it is critical that researchers continue utilizing non‐peer reviewed sources in their scholarly work. KM researchers should promote the dissemination of KM knowledge beyond the disciplinary boundaries. The issue whether KM should strive towards becoming a reference discipline should be debated further.


This study analyzes the KM field from the reference discipline perspective.



Serenko, A. and Bontis, N. (2013), "The intellectual core and impact of the knowledge management academic discipline", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 137-155.

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