Loughborough University
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Knowledge management in the voluntary sector: a focus on sharing project know-how and expertise

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-06-11, 14:20 authored by Gillian Ragsdell, Eva Ortoll Espinet, Michael Norris
Voluntary sector organisations are operated principally by volunteers who are not obliged to share their knowledge, as might be expected in a for-profit company, with a greater consequent loss of knowledge should individuals leave. This research examines how a volunteer-led organisation, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), acquires, stores and shares its project knowledge in the context of event management. Three annual CAMRA festivals of different sizes and maturity were selected to see how volunteers’ knowledge is managed in the process of organising their festivals. Key Festival Officers were interviewed and focus groups, comprising of festival volunteers, were conducted. While the maturity of a festival and its size seemed to influence the ways in which knowledge was managed there were some commonalities between festivals. Evident was a strong master-apprentice model of learning with little formal training or record keeping except, that is, where legislation and accountability in treasury and health and safety functions were necessary. Trust between volunteers and their need to know and to share information appeared to be dependent, in part, on their perception and confidence in the success of the overarching project organisation, and this helped shape volunteers’ knowledge-sharing practices. While there was evidence of a laissez-faire approach to codification and the sharing of knowledge, this was less so when volunteers recognised a genuine lack of knowledge, which would hinder the success of their festival. The analysis also highlighted factors related to the sharing of knowledge that, it is suggested, have not been identified in the for-profit sector.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


RAGSDELL, G., ORTOLL ESPINET, E. and NORRIS, M., 2014. Knowledge management in the voluntary sector: a focus on sharing project know-how and expertise. Knowledge Management Research and Practice, 12(4), pp.351–361.


Palgrave Macmillan / © Operational Research Society


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This article was published in the journal Knowledge Management Research and Practice [Palgrave Macmillan / © Operational Research Society]. The definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/kmrp.2013.21




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