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Interorganisational partnerships and knowledge sharing: the perspective of non-profit organisations (NPOs)

Dinesh Rathi (based at School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Lisa M. Given (Professor of Information Studies at School of Information Studies & Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia)
Eric Forcier (Research coordinator at School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 2 September 2014

4573

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims first to identify key interorganisational partnership types among non-profit organisations (NPOs) and second to determine how knowledge sharing takes place within each type of partnership. Results explore the value of social media specifically in facilitating external relationships between NPOs, firms and the communities they serve.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical qualitative analysis of exploratory interviews with 16 Canadian NPOs generates a non-exhaustive classification of partnership types emerging from these organisations, and their defining characteristics in the context of interorganisational knowledge sharing.

Findings

Overall eight categories of partnerships from the sampled NPOs emerged from the analysis of the data. These include business partnerships, sector partnerships, community partnerships, government partnerships, expert partnerships, endorsement partnerships, charter partnerships and hybrid partnerships. Using examples from interviews, the sharing of knowledge within each of these partnerships is defined uniquely in terms of directionality (i.e. uni-directional, bi-directional, multi-directional knowledge sharing) and formality (i.e. informal, semi-formal or formal knowledge sharing).Specific practices within these relationships also arise from examples, in particular, the use of social media to support informal and community-driven collaborations. Twitter, as a popular social networking tool, emerges as a preferred medium that supports interorganisational partnerships relevant to NPOs.

Originality/value

This research is valuable in identifying the knowledge management practices unique to NPOs. By examining and discussing specific examples of partnerships encountered among NPOs, this paper contributes original findings about the implications of interorganisational knowledge sharing, as well as the impact of emerging social technologies on same.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

Citation

Rathi, D., M. Given, L. and Forcier, E. (2014), "Interorganisational partnerships and knowledge sharing: the perspective of non-profit organisations (NPOs)", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 867-885. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-06-2014-0256

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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