Loughborough University
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Knowledge brokering: an insider action research study in the not-for-profit sector

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posted on 2018-10-29, 16:12 authored by Vipin Chauhan
This study contributes an original, practice-based analysis of knowledge brokering in inter-organisational communities of practice in the not-for-profit sector. Defining characteristics of the not-for-profit sector include its social values, principles and practices. Existing literature understates or overlooks the significance of values and principles that are manifested in and enlivened through every day social practices and practitioner encounters. The study contributes by presenting knowledge brokering as a knowledge sharing intervention which integrates people, processes, values and principles into practice. Knowledge brokering and other practice interventions in the not-for-profit sector have to align with its social mission, if they are to be compatible and effective. This is especially so in multi-agency partnerships and inter-organisational communities of practice where collaboration and co-existence rather than assimilation are the primary objectives. This study finds that values-compatible knowledge brokering interventions, boundary bridging, co-creation, common artefacts and knowledge sharing, enable inter-organisational communities of practice to evolve without sacrificing individual autonomy. Foundational knowledge brokering literature emphasises the structural position of the knowledge broker, their knowledge superiority and the benefits they accrue by operating on the periphery of a social network. The study contributes by arguing that knowledge brokering processes and roles can be examined through an alternative practice lens with the knowledge broker as an internal co-practitioner located within a network. The study was carried out in a new, time-limited multi-agency partnership project in the not-for-profit sector. The partnership constituted an inter-organisational community of practice comprising advice, information and support agencies that had agreed to work collaboratively to improve local services. The author was employed as the project s Knowledge Management Officer and carried out the study over a two year period using an insider action research approach. As an insider practitioner-researcher, the author contributed to the project s objectives, worked collaboratively with practitioners and gathered rich data. Action and research occurred simultaneously and the iterative processes enabled the cumulative learning to inform, develop and analyse the practice. The combination of using insider action research approach, an examination of knowledge brokering as a practice intervention and a multi-agency, not-for-profit setting, makes this a unique practice-based study untapping knowledge management lessons from the not-for-profit sector.


Loughborough University, School of Business and Economics.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business


© Vipin Chauhan

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


  • en