|dc.description.abstract||An increasing number of organisations are turning to knowledge management (KM) as a key to
leverage their distinctive core competencies in their pursuit of competitive advantage.
Organisations are interested in KM to boost the efficiency of their processes, increase their
productivity and quality of their services, and to achieve innovative solutions and products for
their customers. Consequently, the contributions of KM to the overall success of an organisation
have been widely acknowledged.
Prior research studies have demonstrated that both organisational culture and leadership
behaviours are widely held to be major barriers to creating and leveraging knowledge. The
literature suggests that for KM implementation to be effective there is a need to diagnose the fit
between an organisation and its KM objectives. Thus, it is essential to articulate how
organisational culture and leadership styles affect the organisation’s ability to create and apply
knowledge. It is only then that appropriate strategies can be designed to either adapt the
organisational culture or reshape it to support KM objectives.
A critical evaluation of research studies in the fields of leadership, organisational culture, and
knowledge management indicated that, while some evidence exists supporting the links between
leadership and KM and between organisational culture and KM, the combined study of all three
of these concepts has been hitherto lacking. This study, therefore, examines this research gap.
More specifically, the study investigates the relationship between leadership behaviours and KM
practices, and the moderating effects of organisational culture on that relationship.
To investigate such a relationship, a conceptual model comprising four constructs, namely
transformational leadership, transactional leadership, organisational culture, and KM practices,
was developed. The model and its related four hypotheses were empirically examined using a
questionnaire-based survey targeting Australian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The rationale for selecting SMEs was two-fold. First, one of the main characteristics of SMEs is
that management structures are often minimal, and decision making is centralised at the
owner/manager level. Hence, the leader’s personality and behaviours would be expected to have
a significant influence on supporting organisational KM practices. Second, individual SMEs are
more likely to have a single organisational culture. Thus, culture and cultural fit are more
profound in SMEs than in large organisations where several cultures may be present. Data related to the four constructs of the study were collected from 157 SMEs using three
previously validated instruments. For the measurement of leadership behaviours, the study used
the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ-5X), which is one of the most widely tested
measures of transformational and transactional leadership. For the construct of KM practices, a
17-item assessment questionnaire developed by Becerra-Fernandez and Sabherwal (2001) was
used to allow participants to indicate how frequently each of the identified KM processes and
tools is currently being used within their respective organisations. Finally, Denison’s
Organisational Cultural Survey (DOCS), adapted from Fey & Denison (2003), was selected to
measure the dimensions of organisational culture. Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA),
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Regression Analysis (RA) were employed to examine
the relationships among the research constructs. The results shed light on how leadership
behaviours and organisational culture influence KM practices.
First, both transformational and transactional leadership behaviours appear to be positively
related to KM practices. More specifically, charismatic leadership (focusing on envisioning,
empathy, and empowerment) and contingent reward leadership behaviours (focusing on
transactions, rewards, and punishment) have a greater impact on facilitating knowledge
socialisation and exchange within organisations.
Second, the results of moderated regression analyses reveal that the effectiveness of leadership
behaviours is contingent upon the type of organisational culture. To illustrate, cultures with
strong emphasis on hierarchy (i.e. highly centralised and formalised) and/or mission (i.e. being
competitive and goal-oriented) would attenuate the contribution of transactional leadership
behaviours to KM. These findings, hence, suggest that the most effective leaders for successful
KM implementation are those who are best able to display and use both transformational and
transactional leadership behaviours upon different organisational contexts and cultures. For
example, transactional leadership might work better in reinforcing existing norms, values and
procedures, whereas transformational leadership behaviours would allow the adaptation of
organisational culture to and its realignment with, a new vision when needed.
Third, and perhaps of most interest, the evidence provided by the study indicated that leadership
behaviours (in their own right) are significant contributors to organisational culture, and that
leaders can influence KM practices either directly or indirectly through organisational culture.
These findings confirm the crucial role of leadership in building and maintaining a supportive
organisational culture for KM, thus providing further evidence for the need to develop a
comprehensive investigation into the potential role that organisational culture could play as an
effective mechanism by which leaders could enact KM within their organisations.
Finally, although the use of well-tested questionnaires indicated a strong conceptualisation of the
transactional leadership model, this could not be extended to the transformational leadership and
organisational constructs where a relatively moderate representation was obtained for these two
constructs. While this finding is somewhat disappointing, it enhances the existing body of
knowledge by suggesting that perceptions of transformational leadership and organisational
culture might be contingent upon other contextual conditions such as national culture,
organisational history and performance – all of which are outside the scope of this research
In conclusion, this study provides empirical evidence on the connection among leadership
behaviours, organisational culture, and knowledge management, thereby addressing the need for
research that incorporates cultural context in leadership and KM studies. Furthermore, it provides
practical implications for managers/leaders by identifying the leadership behaviours and
organisational mechanism required to enhance KM practices.||