The limits of knowledge management

Alan McKinlay

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    69 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper traces the impact of three knowledge management (KM) projects inside a global pharmaceuticals firm. The first was a conventional debriefing exercise; the second a major investment in an electronic repository, 'Warehouse'. and the third, 'Cafe' an attempt to use web technology to construct new 'communities of practice'. Discussions of KM have been dominated by prescriptive and managerialist approaches that ignore organisational politics and the impact of KM on the labour process. We place these issues at the centre of our account of KM. The critical weaknesses of the KM projects were: first, their reliance on the active involvement of labour. Passive resistance was sufficient to limit the impact of KM in practice. Second, the technical development of KM systems was not matched by the formation of consistent, centralised measures of social processes. Both factors severely limited the development of KM as a durable power/knowledge regime.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)76-88
    Number of pages13
    JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


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