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Dissertation Abstract

Organizational Culture as a Mediating Factor on Knowledge Management Systems in the Aerospace and Defense Industry

Frank Christopian
May 2008

Culture permeates organizations and is typically reflective of the national culture in which the organizations are immersed and operate. A comprehensive review of extant literature revealed a plethora of discussions that attempted to correlate the effects of organizational culture on a myriad of new strategic initiatives such as knowledge management systems and processes. Unfortunately, the literature failed to delineate how the various key characteristics of organizational culture affect these management-directed endeavors. In this study, specific cultural assessment criteria, first developed and advanced by Hofstede (2001), Triandis (1995), Trompenaars (1994), and others, were utilized to appraise organizational culture as a means to determine the extent to which culture had a direct bearing on accepted knowledge constructs and the overall success or failure of various knowledge management initiatives as pursued by major contractors in the aerospace and defense industry sector. Importantly, the literature review revealed that there were no currently known theories that adequately explain what or how the key characteristics of organizational culture actually impact strategic deployments of knowledge management initiatives. While researchers have frequently attributed the successes and failures of various management-directed initiatives to organizational culture, it is basically unknown as to how these key cultural characteristics interact. Further, the aerospace and defense industry, by definition, remains shrouded in secrecy and operates in a closed environment thereby remaining an enigma. The principal objective of this study was to determine the key characteristics of organizational culture noted in participating defense contractor enterprises and to determine their basic understandings of competing knowledge constructs and knowledge management perspectives. Throughout the assessment, this study focused on establishing a potential connection between the effects of intrinsic organizational culture and defense contractor-based knowledge management initiatives. Through the methodical use of a grounded theory approach, this method allowed for a theory to emerge, which explained the rather complex connection between organizational culture and management-directed strategic initiatives such as knowledge management. In turn, the establishment of a sound grounded theory provided an evidentiary basis for further research for those seeking a better understanding of the reflective effects of organizational culture.