Odd Couple: Coming to Terms with Knowledge Management

Mats Alvesson, Dan Kärreman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The idea of knowledge management draws currently much attention, both among practitioners and scholars. Advocates of the term argue that knowledge management points to a new set of phenomena and practices for managers to learn and master. In particular knowledge management focuses on the creation and distribution of knowledge in organizations through technological novelties such as the internet, intranets, and e‐mail, although there are also streams concentrating on social relations and interactions. This paper examines several possible conceptualizations of the idea of knowledge management. It is argued that knowledge is an ambiguous, unspecific and dynamic phenomenon, intrinsically related to meaning, understanding and process, and therefore difficult to manage. There is thus a contradiction between knowledge and management. Drawing from a literature review and a case study, it is suggested that knowledge management is as likely, if not more so, to operate as a practice of managing people or information than as a practice attuned towards facilitating knowledge creation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)995-1018
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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