The concept of ‘green knowledge management’ is gathering momentum, for example, it was the focus of the recent Green Learning Awards initiative from the Global Organizational Think Tank on Tacit Knowledge Management (GO-TKM).
Green knowledge management aims to integrate green or environmental aspects into all dimensions of knowledge management (KM). The need for this has increased greatly because of growing global environmental challenges. As such, green knowledge management can potentially help KM better support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But despite its potential, the research literature addressing green knowledge management is currently very limited, and not well developed.
A recent paper1 attempts to add some rigor to explorations of green knowledge management by developing and validating a proposed scale for its measurement in organizations. The scale development steps followed established guidelines2. The first step involved a literature review and interviews with managers. The collected information was then used to draft a scale which was proofread and refined by experts from industry and academia. After pilot testing, the scale was finalized, a comprehensive survey was initiated, and the collected data were subjected to validation through different statistical tests.
The finalized scale lists a range of factors against five dimensions, as shown below. The paper authors advise that organizations can use it as a checklist to ensure nothing is overlooked when creating their green measurement models.
Shortcomings of the scale
I recommend that the scale is used only to initiate the exploration of green knowledge management in organizations because some shortcomings mean it should not be used as-is.
One of these shortcomings relates to a bias towards explicit knowledge systems, as opposed to tacit knowledge processes. For example, the ‘knowledge storage’ dimension of the scale would be best changed to ‘knowledge retention’ and expanded to include tacit knowledge loss prevention measures such as mentoring.
Another shortcoming relates to the apparent lack of specialist environmental input into the scale. Although the paper extensively references environmental management and sustainability literature, all of the authors come from university departments related to business, economics, and organizational management, rather than environmental science and management departments. Sadly, despite advocating for the effective engagement of the best available knowledge in organizational decision-making, the KM field can itself be knowledge-siloed. As I’ve previously discussed in RealKM Magazine, there’s much that the KM field could learn from the knowledge of environmental scientists and managers. For example, specialist environmental knowledge in regard to the measurement of outcomes could assist the further development of the ‘knowledge application’ dimension of the scale, and in regard to stakeholder knowledge engagement could assist the further development of the ‘knowledge acquisition’ dimension of the scale.
Header image source: Created by Bruce Boyes with Perchance AI Photo Generator.
- Yu, S., Abbas, J., Álvarez-Otero, S., & Cherian, J. (2022). Green knowledge management: Scale development and validation. Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 7(4), 100244. ↩
- Hinkin, T. R. (1998). A brief tutorial on the development of measures for use in survey questionnaires. Organizational research methods, 1(1), 104-121. ↩
- Leochico, C. F. D., Di Giusto, M. L., & Mitre, R. (2021). Impact of scientific conferences on climate change and how to make them eco-friendly and inclusive: A scoping review. The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 4, 100042. ↩
- Wood, S. (2021, August 20). ‘A lot of people are sleepwalking into it’: the expert raising concerns over AI. The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend. ↩