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Crowding at the frontier: boundary spanners, gatekeepers and knowledge brokers

Aurore Haas (PSL, Universite Paris-Dauphine, M&O, Paris, France)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




This paper aims to contribute to defining the concepts of boundary spanner, gatekeeper and knowledge broker.


A review of the literature covering more than 100 sources.


A review of past research leads to proposing a set of new definitions and also to the detection of six research avenues.


The ability of organizations to recognize, source and integrate key information or knowledge is important for their strategy, innovation and performance over time. Three types of individuals have information gathering and knowledge dissemination roles at the frontier of organizations and groups: boundary spanners, gatekeepers and knowledge brokers. Although research on these individuals is well-developed, we found that in practice, the definitions of the concepts overlap and still need a clarification. So far, no systematic comparison of these roles has been undertaken.



The author thanks Stéphanie Dameron and Pierre Romelaer for their constructive comments


Haas, A. (2015), "Crowding at the frontier: boundary spanners, gatekeepers and knowledge brokers", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 1029-1047.



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