How far have we come with the study of knowledge risks?

Publication Date06 March 2019
AuthorSusanne Durst
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
How far have we come with the
study of knowledge risks?
Susanne Durst
School of Business, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
Purpose This paper aimsto review research on the topic of knowledge risksto establish the current body
of knowledgeand, on this basis, to suggest some promising avenuesfor future research.
Design/methodology/approach This study consists of a systematicreview of 52 refereed articles on
Findings The ndings contribute to a more holistic view of the topic and related aspects and, thus,
complementthe study of knowledge management. Additionally,a number of research questions are proposed,
aimed at guidingand informing future research activities.
Research limitations/implications This study may not have enabled a complete coverage of all
articles in the eld of knowledgerisks. Yet, based on the chosen research methodology, it seemsreasonable to
assume thatthe review process covered a large share of studies available.
Originality/value To the best of the authors knowledge,no systematic literature review on knowledge
risks andrelated issues has previously been publishedin academic journals.
Keywords Knowledge loss, Knowledge management, Systematic literature review,
Knowledge risk management, Knowledge risks
Paper type Literature review
1. Introduction
This article reviews researchon knowledge risks with the aim to determine the current body
of understanding and to suggest some avenues for future research activities. According to
Perrott (2007), a knowledge risk describes a likelihood of any loss resulting from the
identication, storage or protection of knowledge that may decrease the operational or
strategic benet of a company.Given todays business environment and the role knowledge
plays to master present and future challenges, all kinds of organizations (i.e. small and big
ones, private and public ones) should be aware of the fact that knowledge does have two
sides. On the one hand, knowledge as an asset, being something positive, and on the other
hand, knowledge as a liability, being something negative from an organizations point of
view (Harvey and Lusch, 1999). It is argued that only this approach will make possible a
balanced knowledge management (KM) and, thus, informed decision-making (Durst and
Zieba, 2017).
Taking into consideration that the study of KM has established itself over the years, it
would be interesting to nd out what is known about knowledge risks to complement our
body of knowledge. In fact,there are a number of calls for more rigor research on knowledge
risks and related issues, e.g. their management (Massingham, 2010;Lee et al.,2014;Durst
et al.,2016;Durst and Zieba, 2017). Responding to these calls would underline the strategic
importance that is assignedto knowledge (Grant, 1996).
Against this background, this papers aim is to draw attention to a domain of KM to
which scant attention hasbeen paid but which is, from a strategic point of view, a very vital
issue of KM. Indeed, the author of this paper believes that when successful knowledge
Study of
Received13 October 2018
Revised13 October 2018
Accepted24 November 2018
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 1, 2019
pp. 21-34
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-10-2018-0087
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