Knowledge Sharing in Consulting Companies: Opportunities and Limitations of Knowledge Codification
This paper is a study of the knowledge-sharing difficulties experienced by three departments in a knowledge-intensive firm. The case organisation is a global consulting firm that has been on the forefront of knowledge management and has won several knowledge management related international acclaims. Our analysis shows that there are strong disincentives in place for departments to share knowledge. We found that the nature of the businesses of the departments was very different and so were their knowledge requirements and their preferred ways to seek knowledge. Additionally, confidentiality agreements with clients and lack of cross-departmental interaction inhibited knowledge sharing outside departmental boundaries. Contrary to the common belief in the organisation, we found that one single IT system could not satisfy the context-specific knowledge-sharing needs of the different departments. We suggest that some very recent breakthrough technologies could be applied to facilitate cross-departmental knowledge sharing provided they are implemented at the strategic organisational level.
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