Strategic planning approaches to knowledge management: a taxonomy

Date09 November 2015
Publication Date09 November 2015
AuthorEttore Bolisani,Enrico Scarso
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Strategic planning approaches to
knowledge management:
a taxonomy
Ettore Bolisani and Enrico Scarso
Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padua,
Vicenza, Italy
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss and propose a taxonomy of approaches to the
strategic planning of knowledge management (KM). The concept of KM strategy is relatively recent and
has been developed based on the assumption that any KM programme requires the denition of
long-term goals, resources and plans, i.e. a KM strategic planning. Empirical evidence shows that the
conditions for the successful implementation of KM can change from a company to another and in
relation to the external context, and this may call for different appropriate approaches to KM planning.
Design/methodology/approach – By drawing inspiration from the classic literature about strategic
planning and combining it with the KM literature, a taxonomy of four possible approaches to KM
strategic planning is developed. This taxonomy is based on the combination of two dimensions, namely:
the nature (rational vs emergent) of the planning process, and the competitive factors (internal vs
external) that drive the strategy formulation. Examples of companies, drawn from an analysis of recent
case studies based on secondary data, are then provided, with the purpose to depict the features of each
KM strategic planning approach, as well as asses the consistency and usefulness of the formulated
Findings – The analysis of available empirical data shows that the proposed taxonomy ts cases that
can be found in real life. The two dimensions of KM strategic planning previously presented allow to
highlight the differences in the behaviour of companies. This can provide important food for thought for
strategic thinking applied to KM, and can also reinforce the link between KM and other areas of
Practical implications – The awareness that companies can follow different approaches to KM
planning is important for executives that consider KM as a primary activity for their companies. In
particular, in the case of an emergent KM strategy, managers should be able to recognize it, and, as far
as possible, to align it with the company’s overall strategic goals.
Originality/value – To date, the literature has primarily focused on the denition of different types of
KM strategies, while the process that can lead to the formulation of these strategies has been less
studied. The paper aims to ll this gap by identifying, discussing and classifying different possible
approaches to KM strategic planning that a company can adopt.
Keywords Strategic planning, Classication, Knowledge management, Case studies,
Knowledge management strategies
Paper type Research paper
This paper contributes to the Ateneo 2012 Project “Developing organizational ambidexterity to
foster the competitiveness of the Italian machinery industry” (funded by the University of
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 27 January 2015
Revised 30 July 2015
Accepted 13 August 2015
Vol.45 No. 4, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VINE-01-2015-0005

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