Knowledge Management Methodologies


  • Hilary Kane
  • Gillian Ragsdell
  • Charles Oppenheim


Ethnography, research methodologies, tacit knowledge


Knowledge management (KM) research and practice embraces a wide range of activities and interests. The KM domain covers, on the one hand, technological interventions that aim to support knowledge dissemination and, on the other hand, to appreciation of social approaches that bring people together to share their experiences. The former represents an earlier bias in the field while the latter is more indicative of the current emphasis. Such a shift in emphasis has called for a shift in the way that the research and practice is undertaken; this paper focuses on research activities and asserts the appropriateness of a particular methodology for todays knowledge management research. This paper will firstly consider the range of research methodologies that have been employed in knowledge management research. It will move on to consider the use of one particular research methodology, ethnography, as a framework for understanding the more personal elements of knowledge. It is contended that use of ethnography, which emphasises observation within a compact cultural setting, offers a potentially ideal method of undertaking research in knowledge management because it concentrates on a community and in the provision of descriptions of how members of the community interact with each other. Utilisation of ethnography as a research method sits comfortably with theories of knowledge, which acknowledge the tacit element of knowledge and its experiential embeddedness; ethnography is therefore put forward as a meaningful methodology for contemporary knowledge management research.



1 Mar 2006