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Development of knowledge management curricula in universities

Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative study was an investigation of the phenomenon of Knowledge Management (KM) program design and development. The interest in KM programs has grown during the last decade because of the increased demand for KM educational research and the importance of the emerging knowledge economy. This exploratory and explanatory investigation scrutinized two cases of graduate KM programs conceived in the year 2000.

Choo’s Knowing Cycle was the conceptual framework for the study and furnished an interpretive structure for the data in terms of various processes: historical sensemaking, knowledge creation, and decision-making. Two methods were used for data collection: document analysis and structured interviews with fifteen informants—ranging from deans and directors to Advisory Board members and program support staff. Grounded theory was the analytical method used.

The findings reveal the struggles amongst diverse educational program stakeholders. The teams responded to the challenges of ambiguous frameworks, contradictory opinions from experts, inconsistent definitions, and untested learning outcomes. The results include a valuable repository of provisional Bodies of Knowledge, courses, definitions, frameworks, learning outcomes, and position profiles. The major conclusions were that: 1) the programs were triggered by the need for generating new revenue streams at the educational institutions; 2) deep knowledge about KM was not necessary in order to design and develop an educational program; 3) the two institutions established KM programs because of passionate leaders and teams, group and personal agility and self-learning, innovative and creative curricula; 4) librarians and information professionals played a pivotal role in conceiving, designing, and developing the programs; and 5) KM did not exhibit the characteristics of a mature field with the experiences represented by these two cases.

The significant contribution was the discovery of new, previously unknown knowledge about the inner workings of KM educational program design and development. Leaders of schools of Business, Library and Information Science (LIS), and Management could benefit significantly from the results if they wished to reduce the “time and cost to market” of a KM program. Increased involvement by LIS faculty could boost the relevance and relationship of the LIS field to KM education.

Author(s): Dr. Michael JD Sutton is Assistant Professor at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition, Dr Sutton is also engaged as an Assistant Professor coordinating the Knowledge Management concentration within an interdisciplinary program called Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM) at Kent State University.
He has been an executive, consulting practice partner, innovative practice director, decisive administrative renewal leader, university professor, senior management consultant, mentor, coach, and a very effective program manager.


  • Introduction
  • Review of the Literature
  • Conceptual Framework and Contextual Paradigm
  • Research Methodology
  • Institutional Data and Analysis
  • Discussion of the Findings
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendices

Michael JD Sutton: Examination of the historical sensemaking processes representing the development of knowledge management curricula in universities: Case studies associated with an emergent discipline. Montreal: McGill University (Dissertation), 2007. 435 pages

Copyright © Michael JD Sutton.

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Related articles:

  • Sutton, M. (2002). A Topical Review of Knowledge Management Curriculum Programs in University Graduate Schools: LIS, Business, Cognitive Science, Information Systems and Computer Systems Schools. Queens University, PhD KM Summit | Full text »

Tags: advisory board, Birmingham City University, body of knowledge, Canadian School of Management (CSM)*, Choo's Knowing Cycle, CKC Conceptual Framework, collaboration, competition, constructivist paradigm, cooperation, Cranfield University, curriculum, Curtin University of Technology*, decision making, Dominican University, Drexel University, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Florida State University*, George Mason University, George Washington University (GWU), Global Knowledge Economics Council (GKEC)*, government sector, graduate programs, information management, information process, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), Kent State University, KM course, KM curricula, KM educational research, KM framework, KM job descriptions, KM practitioner, KM professionals, KM program design, KM program frameworks, KM program obstacles, KM programs, KM University of Hawaii, knowing, Knowing Cycle, knowledge, knowledge about KM, Knowledge and Innovation Management Professional Society (KIMPS)*, knowledge creation, Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI)*, La Salle University, Lancaster University, librarians, librarians and information professionals, library and information science, LIS academics, LIS faculty, LIS field, LIS professionals, London Metropolitan University (London Met)*, London South Bank University (LSBU), Long Island University (LIU), Loughborough University (Lough), Loyola University Chicago (LUC)*, mature field, McGill University, Monash University, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Newcastle University, next generation KM, Northeastern University, Oxford Brookes University, passionate leaders and teams, perceptions of KM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, revenue, Robert Gordon University (RGU), Rockhurst University*, Royal Roads University*, sensemaking, sensemaking processes, Simmons College, stakeholders, Stanford University, Stellenbosch University, Syracuse University, universities, University of Aberdeen, University of Buckingham (UB), University of California Berkeley*, University of Canberra (UC), University of Denver (DU), University of Edinburgh, University of Kentucky (UKY), University of Oklahoma (OU)*, University of Otago, University of Pretoria (UP), University of South Australia (UniSA), University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of Toronto, Walden University, Westminster College, Widener University*

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