Knowledge Management in the Latin American Context

31 May 2024

Special issue on Knowledge Management in the Latin American Context

There are multiple studies that show that knowledge management (KM) has grown steadily over the last 40 years (Spender, 2014). This growth has been expressed, among other things, in the increase in the number of publications, the diversification of the subjects addressed, as well as the greater number of authors of different nationalities, thus evidencing a stage of greater maturity of this field of study (Kör et al., 2022; Serenko & Bontis, 2017).

But despite the obvious advances, like most areas of technical and scientific knowledge, KM research has been mainly in rich economies, with little input from the global south (Mohsin & Syed, 2018; Santos et al., 2020). While the number of KM publications from developing countries has tended to grow in recent years, especially due to significant contributions from countries such as China, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Iran, some regions of the world are still underrepresented in global KM research (Kör et al. 2022). Moreover, the still incipient research conducted in emerging economies tends to focus on empirical studies that mainly seek to validate existing conceptualisations, with little original theoretical input from these countries (Gaviria-Marin et al., 2018).  Thus, the contribution of developing countries to knowledge management theory is not only in debt from a quantitative point of view, but also tends to have a marginal impact on the overall theoretical development of the discipline. 

Latin America is clearly one of the 'blind spots' of KM research globally. In the biometric analysis carried out by Akhavan (2016) naming the countries with the highest number of scientific publications on KM and the countries whose papers are the most cited, not a single Latin American country is mentioned. Similarly, in the research carried out by Gaviria-Marin, MerIgó and Popa (2018), which analyses trends in publications over the last 20 years in JKM, it is evident that only two Latin American universities appear in the list of the fifty most influential institutions in the world. In the same study, when analysing the list of countries with the highest number of contributions in publications to the journal, considering the nationality of the institutions to which the authors belong, only four Latin American countries are found out of a list of fifty countries: Brazil (22), Mexico (24), Colombia (41) and Peru (48). Finally, Serenko's study (2021) highlights the high concentration of scientific production in KM by pointing out that it is concentrated in just six countries: USA, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Canada, Australia and China, confirming the underrepresentation of the global south in scientific production and, particularly, the absence of Latin America in the development of the discipline. 

Latin America is a region made up of 20 countries whose similar geography, colonial past, religion and common language in most of them generates the idea of a homogeneous set of nations with a common culture (Romero, 2004). Some of the aspects that characterise this region are the acute social inequality, recurrent political and economic instability of these countries, social conflicts and corruption (Pérez- Arrau et al., 2012; Riggirozzi, 2020; Benza & Kessler, 2020), which is clearly an adverse environment for organisations and their management. But from another point of view, this adverse environment also presents an interesting opportunity in the sense that knowledge management can be an effective tool to solve some of the most common and urgent problems in the region. For example, studies in the Latin American context point to the great value of existing tacit knowledge in indigenous communities as a source of creativity and inspiration for effective problem solving in those communities (Slettli & Singhal, 2017; Contreras-Medina et al., 2022). Likewise, KM could help develop and disseminate the culinary culture of the regions, positively impacting the capacity of these organisations to learn, innovate and transfer the tacit knowledge of the people, generating interesting opportunities in the tourism sector (Duarte Alonso et al., 2020). Likewise, knowledge management has been instrumental in the cooperation of different actors in the social and economic development of rural communities that are victims of violence and exclusion after periods of social conflict (Frias-Navarro et al., 2020) or has also been seen as a tool that could contribute to the improvement of education in cities and rural towns (Delgado, 2012), among other possible applications. Therefore, the aforementioned studies, in addition to others not mentioned here, suggest that the unique context of Latin American countries presents a favourable scenario for the advent of knowledge management, through the generation of ingenious solutions to local problems.  

Therefore, the aim of this special issue is to understand how the Latin American context configures a particular scenario for knowledge management, through a series of cultural, social, political and economic characteristics and particularities specific to the region. Research papers are expected to address issues related to a country, group of countries or the region in general through case descriptions, empirical and applied research, comparative studies and other forms of quantitative or qualitative studies. Some of the questions sought to be answered include:

  • How widespread is knowledge management in Latin America? What is the degree of adoption among Latin American organisations and companies? How widespread is this subject in Latin American universities?
  • What motivates Latin American organisations to initiate a knowledge management project?
  • To what extent does the cultural, social, economic and political context influence the way in which knowledge management is developed in Latin American countries? What is unique about the implementation of knowledge management in Latin American organisations that differentiates it from that of developed countries?
  • What are the main barriers that organisations face in implementing knowledge management in the Latin American context? How do they overcome these barriers?
  • What are the social and cultural factors specific to Latin America that could facilitate the adoption of knowledge management practices? Do they represent an advantage in relation to the situation in developed countries?
  • Are there successful experiences of knowledge management in organisations in the Latin American context?
  • Is there any original and relevant theoretical development on knowledge management in Latin American countries? If so, which subjects have been most addressed and developed?

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions should be original and not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Papers should be formatted according to the guidelines provided on the journal website. All submissions should be made through the journal submission system.

For any inquiries regarding this call for papers, please email the special issue editors.

Gregorio Pérez-Arrau (Universidad de Santiago de Chile) 

Gregorio Varvakis  (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brasil)

The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management is an online open access journal that aims to publish articles that contribute to the development of theory and practice in the field of Knowledge Management. The current publication charge is GBP 300 + VAT, payable only after the article has been accepted for publication.



Akhavan, P., Ebrahim, N. A., Fetrati, M. A., & Pezeshkan, A. (2016). Major trends in knowledge management research: a bibliometric study. Scientometrics, 107, 1249-1264.

Benza, G., & Kessler, G. (2020). Uneven trajectories: Latin American societies in the twenty-first century. Cambridge University Press.

Benza, G., & Kessler, G. (2020). Uneven trajectories: Latin American societies in the twenty-first century. Cambridge University Press.

Contreras-Medina, D. I., Medina-Cuéllar, S. E., & Rodríguez-García, J. M. (2022). Roadmapping 5.0 Technologies in Agriculture: A Technological Proposal for Developing the Coffee Plant Centered on Indigenous Producers’ Requirements from Mexico, via Knowledge Management. Plants11(11), 1502.

Delgado, T. J. R. (2012). Knowledge management and university higher education. Management in the third millennium, 15(30), 43-48.

Duarte Alonso, A., O’Shea, M., & Kok, S. K. (2022). Managing knowledge in the context of gastronomy and culinary tourism: A knowledge-based view. Tourism Recreation Research, 47(2), 145-159.

Frias-Navarro, R., & Montoya-Restrepo, L. A. (2020). Understanding Knowledge Creation Processes among Rural Communities in Post-Conflict Settings in Colombia. Knowledge Management & E-Learning, 12(2), 231-255.

Gaviria-Marin, M., Merigo, J. M., & Popa, S. (2018). Twenty years of the Journal of Knowledge Management: A bibliometric analysis. Journal of Knowledge Management, 22(8), 1655-1687.

Johns, G. (2006). The essential impact of context on organizational behavior. Academy of management review, 31(2), 386-408.

Kör, B., Mutlutürk, M., & Caniëls, M. C. (2022). Analysing and visualising the trends in knowledge management: towards a normative knowledge management framework. International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 13(1), 1-32.

Mohsin, M., & Syed, J. (2018). Knowledge management in developing economies: A critical review. The Palgrave Handbook of Knowledge Management, 601-620.

Perez Arrau, G., Eades, E., & Wilson, J. (2012). Managing human resources in the Latin American context: the case of Chile. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(15), 3133-3150.

Riggirozzi, P. (2020). Social policy, inequalities and the battle of rights in Latin America. Development and Change, 51(2), 506-522.

Romero, E.J. (2004) Latin American Leadership: The Pattern and the Modern Leader. Cross Cultural Management, 11 (3), p.p.25-37

Santos, J. L. S., Steil, A. V., & Delgado-Hernández, D. J. (2020). State of the organizational learning field in Latin America and the Caribbean: Research methods and themes. The Learning Organization

Serenko, A. (2021). A structured literature review of scientometric research of the knowledge management discipline: a 2021 update. Journal of knowledge management. 25(8), 1889-1925.

Serenko, A., & Bontis, N. (2017). Global ranking of knowledge management and intellectual capital academic journals: 2017 update. Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(3), 675-692.

Slettli V and Singhal A, “Identification and Amplification of Tacit Knowledge: The Positive Deviance Approach as Knowledge Management Praxis” The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management Volume 15 Issue 1 2017, (pp17-27)

Spender, J. C. (2014). Knowledge management: Origins, history, and development. In Advances in knowledge management: Celebrating twenty years of research and practice (pp. 3-23). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Venkitachalam, K., & Willmott, H. (2015). Factors shaping organizational dynamics in strategic knowledge management. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 13(3), 344-359.