Purpose – The paper aims to identify and discuss barriers and facilitators to four processes implied in knowledge management (KM; acquisition, creation, sharing, and transfer). Technological, socio-organizational, and individual barriers and facilitators are considered. Design/methodology/approach – A literature review was carried out. Four databases (ISI Web of Science, EBSCO, Emerald, and ProQuest) were used for identifying relevant papers. The search covered the time period between January 1985 and August 2010.
Findings – Factors affecting the four KM processes involve some form of social capital and the interaction between technology and users’ needs and activities. In addition to technology and social capital variables, other factors such as leadership, performance-oriented culture, training and development practices, and T-shaped skills emerged as relevant for KM processes. The authors conclude that KM thrives in positive organizational contexts and fails when the infrastructure establishing positive contexts is absent.
Originality/value – A hybrid positive approach (adopting the “positive deviance” lens of positive organizational scholarship without neglecting the negative features of organizational life) is adopted. The authors argue that the strategies to fight negative features of organizational life for improving KM processes are potentially different from those seeking to promote positive qualities with the same aim. A fruitful perspective for studying and improving KM processes may be to look for the constructive tension emerging from positive and negative features of organizational life. In short: only by advancing positivity and removing negativity may KM flourish.
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