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Implications of National Culture on Knowledge Management: A cross-cultural analysis of Italian and American perceptions Open Access

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Knowledge management (KM) has become an increasingly important aspect for achieving and maintaining competitive advantage across all types of organizations and businesses worldwide. However only limited research is available to understand how KM may be influenced by national culture. This research focuses on the differences and similarities between Italian and American workers' beliefs, expectations, and practices of knowledge management and how these relate to Hofstede's national culture dimensions.This study is part of a multi-country set of research studies, undertaken by The George Washington University's Institute for Knowledge and Innovation, aimed at understanding how KM may be influenced by national culture. For continuity and comparative purposes we replicate a previous study, which compared KM perceptions between American and Taiwanese knowledge workers (Wang 2004).The subjects of our study are Italian and American employees and managers expected to be involved in KM activities at all levels. Statistical comparisons on the 474 study participants (237 from each country) do not show statistically significant differences between Italian and American perceptions of knowledge management beliefs, expectations and practices. Both countries gave a relatively high importance score to all factors believed to contribute to successful knowledge management initiatives. Similarly consensus was found on the expected benefits such initiatives bring to an organization. Comparably lower scores were recorded on the actual implementation of KM best-practices by the participants' organizations. For individual variables within our constructs where differences are observed between the two countries, we propose empirical evidence that high uncertainty avoidance traits of the Italian society may explain such differences.This research provides insights which will help companies or units within a company select KM tools and practices that are more likely to succeed in the national culture setting in which these are to be implemented.

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