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Web 2.0 and the empowerment of the knowledge worker

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PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to discuss the potential of Web 2.0 technologies for knowledge management and to explore how corporate governance models influence the adoption of Web 2.0 for organisational learning and knowledge exchange. Design/methodology/approachThe paper begins with a literature review to understand the phenomenon of Web 2.0. It introduces the opposing governance models of hierarchical pyramids and flat pancakes to assess barriers and leverage factors for the implementation of Web 2.0 technologies as a knowledge management system which is based on collaboration and the flow of information in networks; this discourse includes concepts for the nature of knowledge and decision-making processes. Finally, the potential of Web 2.0 to drive empowerment of knowledge workers is discussed. FindingsThe potential of Web 2.0 technologies to act as a lever for organisational learning and knowledge exchange depends on the degree of openness, freedom, and employee empowerment in corporate environments. Work structures and communication processes differ between employees in corporate settings and peers in web communities. Peers enjoy a high degree of personal freedom and autonomy in their participative behaviour. Employees are on the contrary tied to policies of power, control, and interdependencies within business units. Originality/valueThis article links a discussion of Web 2.0 to ideas for corporate governance and the nature of knowledge. Particular attention is paid to decision-making policies and organisational structures which pre-determine the successful application of Web 2.0 technologies for knowledge management.
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Keywords: Corporate governance; Empowerment; Knowledge management; Learning organizations; Technology led strategy; Worldwide web

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 23 October 2009

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