Rotten with perfection? : an exploration of the rhetoric of knowledge in knowledge management : a thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Management, Massey University, Albany

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Massey University
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Knowledge management (KM) is a topic of interest to local and national organisations on the potential of ‘knowledge’. In over a decade of theorising, the concept of knowledge as projected by theory seems to remain largely positive. My research probes these concepts of knowledge and asks if it was rhetoric that sustained these images of knowledge and, if so, what were the processes that enabled it to do so. In this thesis, I critically examine several academic texts in KM theory and find out that the concept of knowledge in KM as portrayed by these texts is rhetorically perfect but potentially corrupted. Concepts of knowledge which have been ignored or omitted in KM become apparent in a unique method of rhetorical analysis which I have developed and called ‘embedded cluster-agon’ analysis. Based on this analysis, I propose that in the ‘perfecting’ of knowledge a ‘dark side’ has developed. In the KM theory analysed, this emerges as a pattern of assumptions that regards individuals as: resources to be exploited, pawns in organisational strategies, victims of unbalanced power relationships and anonymous nodes on networks. This hints at a possible lack of moral or ethical consideration in managing knowledge. Therefore, KM needs to be theorised with care.
Content removed from thesis due to copyright restrictions: Teo-Dixon, G. & Monin, N. (2007). Guru of gurus: Peter Drucker, logology, and the ultimate leader. Journal of Management Inquiry, 16(1), 6-17. doi:10.11777/1056492606294637
Knowledge management, Organisational knowledge