Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Exploring Knowledge Management in Higher Education Institutions: Processes, Influences, and Outcomes

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Exploring Knowledge Management in Higher Education Institutions: Processes, Influences, and Outcomes

Article excerpt


Knowledge Management (KM) is recognized as one of the most important management strategies for an organization to create knowledge value that leads to sustainable competitive advantages (Wen, 2009). Many organizations consider KM as a key component of their strategies to create a sustainable competitive advantage in today's knowledge-based society (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2004). Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can apply KM practices to support their missions (Ramachandran, Chong, & Wong, 2013). KM assists HEIs in exploring their organizational strategies aimed at increasing knowledge-based activities in line with their institutional goals.

Over the past decade, there has been a growing interest in the impact of KM. However, most research projects have been conducted in a business arena. Not many studies have explored KM in academic institutions (Ramachandran et al., 2013). Principles and patterns of KM that are implemented in an educational setting can be similar to (Keeley, 2004) or different from (Thitithananon & Klaewthanong, 2007) application in the corporate sector.

Researchers have been studying KM frameworks and various factors that affect KM. The latest two KM meta-analysis studies were conducted by Heisig (2009) and Lehner and Haas (2010). However, their studies focus on the KM application in business. Currently, no published studies explore KM processes and key success factors in an HEI context. This integrative literature review approach will provide insight into studies of KM in HEIs during the last decade.

Purpose Statement

The purposes of this study are to examine and analyze recent KM literature in the higher education sector and to explore KM processes, influences, and outcomes that are framed in the HEI studies.

The study is guided by three research questions:

1. What are the KM processes used in HEIs?

2. What are the KM influences used in HEIs?

3. How does KM impact HEI performance?


To accomplish the research purposes, we use the integrative literature review "a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated" (Torraeo 2005, p. 356). This study aims to reconceptualize the existing KM literature in the HEI context.

Search Process

The search for appropriate literature was conducted in Academic Search Complete (Ebsco) and ProQuest databases using the terms "Knowledge Management" and "Higher Education" and their related expressions (i.e., managing knowledge, KM, university, and college). The initial search using these keywords in the subject field resulted in 195 publications, but most were irrelevant to this study. Thus, we changed the search field by using the title field that provided us more relevant papers.

The term "Knowledge Management" first appeared in the AB I Inform Index in 1975 (Serenko & Bontis, 2004). We repeated their process and limited the search with the two aforementioned key terms since our study focuses on how to manage an organizations' knowledge in the higher education context. We used all years available in the databases at the time of the research from 2001 to 2014 (September 30). The search resulted in 27 articles in Ebsco and 17 dissertations in ProQuest.

Additionally, we used Google Scholar to increase the number of papers. Google Scholar led to other documents that cited original papers. We reviewed the cited documents of the 4 articles that most related to our research topic. This forward snowballing technique resulted in 8 extra articles for a total of 56 initial papers.

Selection Process

To screen papers for relevance, we set the inclusion criteria: (1) peer reviewed (for articles), (2) English language, (3) all years available in the database, (4) an empirical study, and (5) focus on research studied in relation to KM processes, influences, and outcomes in the HEI context. …

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