The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management publishes original articles on topics relevant to studying, implementing, measuring and managing knowledge management and intellectual capital.

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Journal Article

Application of Boundary Objects in Knowledge Management Research: A Review  pp100-113

Saima Kanwal, Miguel Baptista Nunes, Muhammad Arif Chen Hui, Andrew D. Madden

© Oct 2019 Volume 17 Issue 2, Editor: Shaun Pather, pp100 - 170

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Knowledge is considered to be a corporate asset, but in practice it is grounded in different organisational functions and is stored in repositories and in individuals’ memories. Boundary objects have an important role in promoting knowledge sharing and transfer within and across social boundaries. These objects help individuals to learn from each other and to share their knowledge between and within groups. This study explores the nature of boundary objects as socio‑technical constructs that relate to the practice of knowledge management. The researchers used a critical literature review of boundary objects use in the context of the knowledge management landscape. Relevant articles published in English between 2008 and 2018 were retrieved from Web of Science. Analysis of the selected studies indicated that boundary objects contribute significantly to the development of shared understanding, knowledge creation and innovative thinking. These objects play different types of role in supporting knowledge practices within and across organisations. The findings also show that, while performing similar enabling roles in different contexts, the impact and use of different types of boundary objects (i.e., semantic, syntactic, pragmatic and metaphoric) varied significantly. Boundary objects may also help to coordinate interaction in the absence of intended coordination by the actors. It is recommended that, in order to get maximum benefit from the power of boundary objects and to strengthen their role, it is important for an organisation to identify, create and facilitate its use in knowledge management.


Keywords: Boundary Object; Knowledge Management; Critical Review; Knowledge Management Practice


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Journal Issue

Volume 17 Issue 2 / Dec 2019  pp100‑170

Editor: Shaun Pather

View Contents Download PDF (free)

Keywords: Boundary Object; Knowledge Management; Critical Review; Knowledge Management Practice, Personal Knowledge Management (PKM); Knowledge Management (KM); Knowledge Creation Theories; Knowledge Worker; Knowledge Society; Radical Innovation; Digital Platform Ecosystem (DPE), Organizational learning, learning university, learning business school, university management, management change, Dimensions of Learning Organisation Questionnaire (DLOQ), Future skills, Digital innovation, New world of work, Authentic learning, Life-long learning, 21st-century skills, Higher education institutions, social capital, higher education, knowledge sharing, Saudi Arabia, socialization, trust, participation, rewards


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