ABCs of KM

A scale for measuring green knowledge management in organizations

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.

Green knowledge management measurement scale

This scale can be potentially used as the basis for the development of your organization’s own green knowledge management measurement scale. However, as discussed above, shortcomings in the scale mean that it should only be used as a starting point, and not implemented as-is. Organizations using the scale as the basis for green knowledge management activities should engage not just KM expertise, but also environmental management expertise.

Organizations implementing green knowledge management also need to make sure that they account for the environmental impacts of KM itself. For example, in-person interaction3 and technology solutions4 can have considerable negative environmental impacts.

Knowledge acquisition

  1. My organization regularly acquires information about environment-friendly products and processes/services from external stakeholders (e.g., customers and suppliers).
  2. My organization regularly acquires information about environment-friendly products and processes/services from internal stakeholders (e.g., management and staff).
  3. My organization regularly arranges training sessions for employees to develop their knowledge about environment-friendly products and processes/services.
  4. We have a well-developed information system through which employees can acquire the required information.
  5. My organization encourages and supports the employees to acquire knowledge about environment-friendly products and processes/services.

Knowledge storage

  1. My organization has sufficient information about environment-friendly products and processes/services.
  2. We have an excellent information system to manage information regarding environment-friendly products and processes/services.
  3. It is easy to retrieve information about a specific problem from our information system.
  4. We have comprehensive information about our competitors and the impact of their operations on the natural environment.
  5. Even if any person leaves, our information system keeps their best knowledge.

Knowledge sharing

  1. People within our organization regularly interact with each other to discuss different environmental developments and share knowledge.
  2. We have a well-organized system through which we can share knowledge and learn from each other.
  3. We are provided with the latest equipment and technology to obtain and share the knowledge.
  4. My organization recognizes and rewards the employees sharing innovative ideas and information to improve the process for the protection of the natural environment.
  5. My organization regularly share the latest environmental knowledge and market trends with its employees through e-mail, training sessions, and workshops/
  6. We regularly share information and knowledge related to the natural environment with our customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders

Knowledge application

  1. My organization fully complies with environmental regulations in its operations.
  2. My organization ensures the application of acquired knowledge to produce environment-friendly products and services.
  3. We use the knowledge obtained from our experiences and mistakes to improve our environmental performance.
  4. We use the acquired knowledge to develop our environment-friendly business strategies.
  5. We have strong commitments to implementing environment-friendly strategies.

Knowledge creation

  1. My organization uses existing information to create environment-friendly products and services.
  2. The management encourages debates and discussions to create new knowledge.
  3. Employees proposing new ideas, knowledge, and solutions are highly appreciated and rewarded by the management.
  4. We collaborate with other firms to create environment-friendly products or processes/services.
  5. We regularly evaluate new ideas for further refinement.

Header image source: Created by Bruce Boyes with Perchance AI Photo Generator.


  1. Yu, S., Abbas, J., Álvarez-Otero, S., & Cherian, J. (2022). Green knowledge management: Scale development and validation. Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 7(4), 100244.
  2. Hinkin, T. R. (1998). A brief tutorial on the development of measures for use in survey questionnaires. Organizational research methods, 1(1), 104-121.
  3. 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 Health4, 100042.
  4. 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.
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Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and education professional with over 30 years of experience in Australia and China. His work has received high-level acclaim and been recognised through a number of significant awards. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. He is also the editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and teaches in the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) Certified High-school Program (CHP).

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