Friday 13 March 2020

Cultural barriers to KM - updated

Which are the most common cultural barriers to KM? How do these barriers change with KM maturity? Which parts of the world have the most cultural barriers?  

These are some of the questions we addressed in our recent surveys of Knowledge Management. The results from the 2014 survey are presented in a previous blog post, and this post includes results from the 2017 survey as well.

 First we provided the respondents with a list of the top ten elements of an Organisational Learning culture, and asked them to identify which of these elements was currently a barrier to the implementation of Knowledge Management. The graph above shows the results, with the numbers being the number of people who identified this element as a barrier to their KM program. A total of 473 people answered the question.

The greatest cultural barrier to KM is short-term thinking - hurrying on with work rather than taking the time to learn before, during and after.  The second most common barrier is a lack of openness - a lack of willingness for people to be open to knowledge sharing and to analysis of what they have learned.  These two barriers are significantly more common that the others, and the same two were in top and second place in the 2014 survey.

Respondents could choose multiple cultural barriers, and to an extent, the number of barriers chosen is a measure of how supportive or unsupportive the culture is.

The number of cultural barriers identified by the respondents is on average fewest (and the culture therefore most supportive) for those companies where Knowledge Management is fully embedded.

This graph may be interpreted in three ways; either KM is easy to embed where the culture is most supportive, that embedding KM requires culture change, or that embedded KM acts to change the culture.

This issue is further explored in the third graph, which shows the average number of cultural barriers identified from respondents from different regions (note that the numbers of respondents are small in some cases).

The most supportive cultures for Knowledge Management seem to be in Australasia and the Indian sub-continent, with the least supportive cultures in Africa and China. The USA and Western Europe sit somewhere in the middle.

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