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.

Full text from author. Purchase print version from publisher

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 »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *