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Non-profit organizations’ use of tools and technologies for knowledge management: a comparative study

Dinesh Rathi (School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
Lisa M. Given (Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




This paper aims to present findings from a study conducted with non-profit organizations (NPOs) in Canada and Australia, focusing on the use of tools and technologies for knowledge management (KM). NPOs of different sizes and operating in different sectors were studied in two large-scale national surveys. The paper is useful to both practitioners in NPOs for understanding tool use for KM activities and to scholars to further develop the KM-NPO domain.


Two nation-wide surveys were conducted with Canadian and Australian NPOs of different sizes (i.e. very small to large-sized organizations) and operating in different sectors (e.g. animal welfare, education and research, culture and arts). An analysis of responses explores the use of tools and technologies by NPOs. Respondents identified the tools and technologies they used from nine pre-determined themes (quantitative data) plus an additional category of “other tools” (qualitative data), which allowed for free text responses. The quantitative data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques and the qualitative data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.


Quantitative data analysis provides key findings including the popularity of physical, print documents across all NPO sizes and sectors. Statistical tests revealed, for example, there is no significant difference for the same-sized organizations in Canadian and Australian NPOs in the use of tools and technologies for KM activities. However, there were differences in the use of tools and technologies across different sizes of NPOs. The qualitative analysis revealed a number of additional tools and technologies and also provided contextual details about the nature of tool use. The paper provides specific examples of the types of tools and technologies NPOs use.


The paper has both practical and academic contributions, including areas for future research. The findings on the use of KM tools and technologies by NPOs contribute to the growing body of literature in the KM domain in general and also build the literature base for the understudied KM-NPO domain. NPOs will also find the paper useful in better understanding tools and technological implementation for KM activities. The study is unique not only in the content focus on KM for NPOs but also for the comparative study of activities in two countries.



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


Rathi, D. and Given, L.M. (2017), "Non-profit organizations’ use of tools and technologies for knowledge management: a comparative study", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 718-740.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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