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Knowledge Management Research in the Construction Industry: a Review

Abstract

Knowledge management (KM) is important to the knowledge-intensive construction industry. The diversified and changing nature of works in this field warrants us to stocktake, identify changes, and map out KM research framework for future exploration. The study involves three aspects. First, three stages of KM research in construction were distinguished in terms of the time distribution of 217 target publications. Major topics in the stages were extracted for understanding the changes of research emphasis from evolutionary perspective. Second, the past works were summed up in a three-dimensional research framework in terms of management organization, managerial methodology and approach, and managerial objective. Finally, potential research orientations in the future were predicted to expand the existing research framework. It was found that (1) KM research has significantly blossomed in the last two decades with a great potential; (2) major topics of KM were changing in terms of technology, technique, organization, attribute of knowledge, and research objectives; (3) past KM studies centred around management organization, managerial methodology and approach, and managerial objective, thus a three-dimensional research framework was proposed; (4) within the research framework, team-level, project-level, and firm-level KM were studied to achieve project, organizational, and competitive objectives by integrated methodologies of information technology, social technique, and KM process tool; and (5) nine potential research orientations were predicted corresponding to the three dimensions. Finally, an expanded research framework was proposed to encourage and guide future research works in this field. The paper only focused on the construction industry. The findings need further exploration in order to discover any possible missing important research works which were not published in English or not included in the time period. The paper formed a systematic framework of KM research in construction and predicted the potential research orientations. It provides much value for the researchers who want to understand the past and the future of global KM research in the construction industry.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71201072 and 71563027). The authors wish to acknowledge the China Scholarship Council for its funding support and the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, for providing necessary research facilities and supervision.

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Correspondence to Dengke Yu.

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Yu, D., Yang, J. Knowledge Management Research in the Construction Industry: a Review. J Knowl Econ 9, 782–803 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-016-0375-7

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Keywords

  • Knowledge management
  • Construction industry
  • Literature review
  • Research
  • Prediction