Organizational culture and knowledge management processes: case study in a public university

Publication Date06 March 2019
AuthorIman M. Adeinat,Fatheia H. Abdulfatah
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Organizational culture and
knowledge management processes:
case study in a public university
Iman M. Adeinat
Department of Business Administration, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia, and
Fatheia H. Abdulfatah
Department of Management Information Systems,
King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine knowledge management interrelationships in higher
education institutions and to assess the impact of the universitys culture on knowledge management
processes:creation, dissemination, exchangeand application.
Design/methodology/approach The proposed model establishes the relationships between
organizationalculture (OC) and knowledge management processes in a single framework. The study used the
organizational culture assessment instrument to determine the culture type and used structural equation
modelingto assess the underlying relationshipsbetween knowledge management processand OC.
Findings The results of the factor analysis used in this study suggest that adhocracy organizational
culture, in which an organization is characterized by emphasis on individual initiative and employee
empowerment, may not necessarily affect all knowledge management processes equally. In particular, an
organizations culture principally inuences the knowledge creation process, followed by knowledge
exchange,in a public university setting.
Originality/value The study provides a comprehensive outlook on the effect of adhocracy culture in
higher educationon the knowledge management process throughthe lens of one cultural context. In addition,
this is the rst study that explores the OC effect on knowledge management process in a Saudi public
Keywords Governmentuniversityindustry, Knowledge management,
Knowledge-supporting culture
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
With the increased changesin the external environment and the need to be part of building a
knowledge economy in their countries, higher education institutions are currently under
pressure to generate new initiativesin their pursuit to be a learning organization. The main
reasons behind these changes are the many challenges posed on universities from different
stockholders to prepare their graduates to deal with the dynamic and complex job market
and the increased competition betweeninstitutions in the higher education to improve their
curriculum and to foster a climateencouraging sharing and applying knowledge.
This Project was funded by the Deanship of Scientic Research (DSR) at King Abdulaziz University,
Jeddah, under grant no. (G-566-245-37). The authors, therefore, acknowledge with thanks DSR
technical and nancial support.
Case study
in a public
Received31 May 2018
Revised5 November 2018
Accepted24 November 2018
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 1, 2019
pp. 35-53
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-05-2018-0041
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Organizations realize the importance of managing knowledge effectively in the
contemporary competitivebusiness environment. Knowledge has become an important tool
for enhancing the quality of all processes in many kinds of organizations, and as a result,
knowledge has to be considered a driving force for cultural, economic and technological
developments in all sectors worldwide. Possessing the knowledge needed for a given
organization to function effectively provides a basis for managers to make accurate and
timely decisions, thereby improving the internal efciency of processes, rendering the
organization more exible in responding to threats and opportunities and encouraging
commitment among the organizations employees. In fact, many international and local
organizations depend heavily on knowledge such that managing this asset effectively has
become the lynchpin in efforts to improve economic performance and ensure the survival
and development of organizationsin both the public and the private sector.
Massaro et al. (2015) reviewed the studies in the knowledge management literature that
was carried out in the public sector and found that research published in this sector is few
and fragmented, although, most of the studies were focused on education and research
centers they were mostly concentrated in India and Malaysia[1]. For example, in the
education sector, Ranjan and Khalil (2007) studied the knowledge management tool and
features implemented in business schools in India and highlighted several problems
hindering knowledgemanagement practices. Elia et al. (2017) examined ways to enhance the
third mission of universitiesand keeping alumni involved in producingknowledge.
Although, many efforts have been made to integrate knowledge management practices
into a range of processes within multiple organizations, numerous studies have shown that
such efforts are met with many challenges. Among these challenges is an unsupportive
organizational culture (OC), which is a matter of great concern given that OC undoubtedly
plays a pivotal role in supporting and in some cases hindering knowledge management in
any organization(Brown and Duguid, 2000;De Longand Fahey, 2000;Ruggles, 1998). Other
researchers have also highlighted the role of OC in supporting knowledge management
practices(Davenport et al.,1998;Heaidari etal., 2011;Lehner and Haas, 2010).
In the higher education context, Rowley (2000) argued that although higher education
institutions would gain a lot through knowledge management, these institutions should
make signicant changes in their institutionsculture and values; thus, a suitable institution
culture is very crucial in carrying out knowledge management. In addition, Wahda (2017)
found that organization learning culture in higher education has the biggest effect on
achieving organizationalperformance through knowledge management.
Based on the above discussion, the purpose of the present study is to undertake and
report on a comprehensive and integratedexamination of the effects of OC on the process of
knowledge management in a higher education institution through the lens of one cultural
context. In particular, the study will investigate interrelationship between the knowledge
management process and the relationshipbetween OC and knowledge management process
to determine whether any given OC type has a positive or negativeinuence on the success
of knowledge managementpractices in a public university located in Saudi Arabia.
In the context of Saudi Arabia, there are number of studies that have focused on
knowledge managementbut not in the higher education sector, for example, Alatatawiet al.
(2013) studied the effect of environmentalfactors on the adoption of knowledge management
in the public sector in particular government institutions. Al-Aama (2014) explored on the
use of technology in managing knowledge management in Saudi municipality. Other
studies have analyzed the private sector in Saudi Arabia (Al-Adaileh and Al-Atawi, 2011;
Dulayami and Robinson, 2015;Migdadi, 2009;Nafei, 2014). To ll this gap of research in
Saudi Arabia, this study is designed to shed light on how an organizations culture may

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