Purpose – Leadership theory and research has not addressed the role of leaders in knowledge management, despite its importance to organizations. Consequently, information and knowledge management as key leader functions have not been explored. This study is an attempt to generate a preliminary theory of the role of leaders in knowledge management through a grounded theory approach. Design/methodology/approach – This study builds a grounded theory of the role of leadership in knowledge management by comparatively analyzing 37 in‐depth interviews of CEOs. Combining deductive and inductive methods, this study establishes the key role of top executive leaders of organizations in knowledge management. Findings – The data from the interviews suggest that leaders are acutely aware of the role of information and knowledge sharing and design knowledge networks that serve to maximize organizational effectiveness. Moreover, leaders use information technology and knowledge management to better focus on key internal and external customers. Thus, this grounded theory emphasizes both the leader behavior dimensions of information and knowledge sharing. More importantly, this study links the processes of knowledge management and customer‐focused knowledge management to leader and organizational effectiveness. Additionally, there seems to be evidence that such knowledge management activities implemented by leaders can positively impact organizational performance. Research limitations/implications – This grounded theory study has identified relationships/ processes of leadership that are inherently longitudinal. A key limitation, however, is that the end result is theory, which needs to be tested and refined through other conventional mechanisms. Originality/value – This study makes significant contributions to both the leadership and knowledge management literatures.
Leadership & Organization Development Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 13, 2007
Keywords: Leadership; Chief executives; Senior management; Knowledge management; Qualitative research
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