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Knowledge management in Mexican NPOs: a comparative study in organizations with a local and national presence

Laura E Zapata Cantu (Egade Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico)
Carlota Eugenia Mondragon (EGADE Business School-Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to identify those organizational and personal elements that enable not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) to generate and transfer knowledge. NPOs are under pressure to use their financial and human resources efficiently, and to improve their activities and services constantly. Knowledge management as a strategy would ensure NPOs’ sustainability and rapid adaptation to dynamic environments.


A qualitative study based on interviews, documents and questionnaires was conducted in 28 Mexican NPOs.


Three main findings were identified: First, Mexican NPOs generate knowledge through courses and seminars based on volunteers’ personal motivation and organizational culture. Second, informal communication media are widely utilized to transfer organizational knowledge. Third, personal commitment to the organization’s mission and trust in their colleagues’ social actions are crucial for knowledge transfer effectiveness, rather than organizational elements.

Research limitations/implications

Results scope of this study is limited to the NPOs under study. The findings expose some highlights for knowledge management process in NPOs in Mexico which would be tested in further research.

Practical implications

Contrary to knowledge management in profit organizations, NPOs must recognize that personal motivation, commitment and trust in organization’s mission and social actions are crucial rather than organizational culture and top management support.

Social implications

NPOs must convert their tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, which allows NPOs to be transparent and effective, and to have access to more funding opportunities and to replicate their best practices throughout the organization.


There are only few studies of knowledge management processes in NPOs. Some considerations have to be done with respect to personal motivation, commitment and trust, as well as organizational elements.



Zapata Cantu, L.E. and Mondragon, C.E. (2016), "Knowledge management in Mexican NPOs: a comparative study in organizations with a local and national presence", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 69-87.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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