Original Research

Human resource management as a facilitator of a knowledge-driven organisational culture and structure for the reduction of tacit knowledge loss in South African state-owned enterprises

Malefetjane Phaladi
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 24, No 1 | a1547 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v24i1.1547 | © 2022 Malefetjane Phaladi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2022 | Published: 10 October 2022

About the author(s)

Malefetjane Phaladi, Department of Library Services, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


Background: Many state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in South Africa face the serious problem of knowledge-unfriendly organisational cultures, structures and human resource management (HRM) practices that hinder the reduction of the risks associated with tacit knowledge loss.

Objective: The article examines the role of HRM in facilitating knowledge-driven organisational cultures and structures for the reduction of tacit knowledge loss in South African SOEs.

Methods: The study deployed an exploratory sequential mixed methods research design to examine the role of HRM in facilitating organisational cultures and structures that are supportive of knowledge management (KM). In the qualitative phase, data were collected through interviews with 20 purposively selected HR managers in nine SOEs. In the quantitative phase, a questionnaire was distributed to 585 randomly selected employees in three state-owned companies. The instrument was considered reliable with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.94 and a response rate of 25%.

Results: The research findings revealed that a majority of organisational cultures and structures in SOEs did not facilitate or assist to propel and support KM activities, behaviours and practices. On a positive note, human resource managers acknowledge that they have a crucial role to play in influencing culture management and structural designs in their companies to boost KM activities, behaviours and cultures.

Conclusion: Numerous SOEs did not exhibit certain knowledge-driven behaviours and cultures because of a lack of structures to drive KM. Human resource managers did not exert their role in driving and influencing such knowledge-based behaviours, cultures and structures to lessen potential tacit knowledge loss.


knowledge management; organisational culture; organisational structure; knowledge loss; human resource management; state-owned enterprises; South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. Understanding tacit knowledge loss in public enterprises of South Africa
Malefetjane P. Phaladi, Patrick Ngulube
SA Journal of Human Resource Management  vol: 22  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/sajhrm.v22i0.2229