Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Information Systems and Technology


This research investigates the adoption of knowledge management (KM) in knowledge-intensive professional organisations. This thesis defines what KM is and how it relates to knowledge-intensive organisations like professional organisations. It also defines the related concept of business intelligence (BI) and discusses the relationship between BI and KM and the impact that this relationship has on an organisation. Furthermore, the thesis examines different organisational structures and identifies the professional organisation as being the one particular type whose internal structure makes it a prime candidate for KM.

The literature presents both a wide variety of approaches to the acquisition or deployment of KM, and a vast amount of discussion on the theoretical foundations of KM. However, much of the literature ignores the significant variations that exist in organisational structures and cultures as outlined in research.

The current research investigates how three approaches: Centralised, Decentralised and Hybrid, work in an organisation with a professional structure, as defined by Mintzberg. It does this by identifying a single professional organisation in which, fortuitously, the three proposed approaches were being used in three separate attempts to build very similar KM tools. These three case studies were examined using grounded theory methods to record the experiences related to the three different approaches. Specific issues were documented using emerging issues analysis, which is the process of identifying issues that could re-occur in other cases.

Recommendations are made as to how KM projects can impact a professional organisation and the issues they can expect to encounter when undertaking such projects. The thesis concludes by proposing two approaches of its own; one describing how a professional organisation can choose an approach to conduct a KM project, the other to assist in determining a system acquisition method.