Learning enablers or strategy makers? : Senior executive leadership in knowledge management processes and activities

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för organisation och entreprenörskap (OE)

Abstract: Senior executives occupy central positions within organizations, and as such their leadership has significant impact on the outcomes of their companies, which is linked to the strategic fit between the knowledge management strategy, intellectual capital and the organizational culture. The purpose of this study is therefore to increase the understanding of how senior executives and their leadership in knowledge intense firms influence knowledge management processes and activities within their organizations. Utilizing an abductive approach on a multiple-case qualitative study of four knowledge intense firms, this study describes and explains the role senior executives and their leadership plays in the interconnected areas of knowledge management strategy, HR-strategy and knowledge sharing culture. The results of the study showed a lack of an articulated knowledge management strategy within the firms, and that utilization of knowledge management processes and activities primarily occurs operationally in common practice rather than derived from a specific central strategy. This resulted in a partial alignment with the HR-strategy with limited implementation of incentives and rewards to promote knowledge sharing within the companies. The senior executives´ leadership involvement was mainly concerned with role-modelling, adopting the role of learning enablers. However, this study suggests an overlooked importance of coaching/mentoring leadership in knowledge management processes on a senior level. The outcomes of this study provide empirical contribution and theoretical implications to existing research, and may be useful to organizations or companies in the development of knowledge management strategies and leadership development on a senior level, to facilitate an effective use of knowledge in their organizations.

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