How school leaders facilitate knowledge sharing
Blankenship, Selena Stanley
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Today, organizations see managing knowledge as a way to nurture learning and innovation and gain competitive advantage; however, while much is being written about knowledge management, there is still much to learn. This is particularly true within the context of schools, where traditional hierarchical reporting relationships are the norm and working in isolation is a dominant aspect of the professional culture. These factors along with others make it difficult for knowledge sharing, the most critical component of knowledge management, to occur. This study explored how school leaders facilitate knowledge sharing by examining leader beliefs about knowledge sharing, the leader behaviors and strategies employed to facilitate knowledge sharing, and factors that affect a leader’s capacity to facilitate knowledge sharing in a school organization. This study makes both theoretical and practical contributions to the fields of knowledge management, school leadership, and human resource development. This was a qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews as the method of data collection. Purposeful sampling based on a reputational case selection strategy was used to select participants for the study. Ten principals from around the state of Georgia participated in face-to-face interviews. The constant comparative method of analysis was used to analyze and interpret the data. Four broad categories of themes emerged from the data to address the research questions: (a) leader beliefs about knowledge sharing, (b) ways leaders facilitate knowledge sharing through behaviors, (c) strategies to facilitate knowledge sharing, and (d) influences on leader capacity. The findings resulted in three conclusions. First principals consider developing relationships critical for knowledge sharing. Second, principals implement strategies related to structure, time and opportunities depending on the current level and type of knowledge sharing taking place. Third, knowledge sharing both requires change and stimulates change. These conclusions led to implications for research and practice.