Overcoming barriers to knowledge management: visiting the dark side of organizations

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Hase, S, Sankaran, S & Davies, AT 2006, 'Overcoming barriers to knowledge management: visiting the dark side of organizations', ACctKM Online Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 3, no. 1.

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Like many organisational endeavours, the success of knowledge management praxis is subject to the vagaries of human nature. There are many reasons, most of which are underpinned by the need for power, why people might choose to hoard, distort and manipulate information. Recent studies undertaken by the authors have demonstrated the way in which knowledge management processes can also be manipulated to impede the distribution of power. This dark side of organisational behaviour is usually subversive, can be unconscious or conscious and always acts against the interests of the group or part of the group. It is important for those involved in knowledge management practice to be acutely aware of the dynamics of the dark side and how they may interfere with their best intentions. As well as describing this phenomenon, this paper also suggests a number of ways in which the dark side might be overcome. Chiefly, drawing on general systems theory, we suggest some techniques that facilitate both open communication and open process.

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