Knowledge management or management of knowledge? Why people interested in knowledge management need to consider Foucault and the construct of power

Raymond D Gordon, David Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In this article we argue that, to date, the knowledge management literature has insufficiently ad- dressed the construct of power. The power literature is reviewed using three categories: power-as- entity, power-as-strategy and power-is-knowledge. We find that much of the knowledge management literature, while not directly addressing power, aspires to the dictum "knowledge is power", which corresponds to the power-as-entity approach. Drawing on the work of Foucault we go on to show that, while the power-as-entity approach is important, it is not sufficient. Foucault's work demonstrates how our understanding of knowledge management can be enriched by adopting a power-as-strat- egy approach. Further, the work of post-Foucauldian power theorists, especially Flyvbjerg (1998), shows that while knowledge is power, "power is also knowledge"— and thus the nature and contextof power shapes organizational knowledge. We argue that Foucault's inseparability of knowledge and power provides a foundation from which it can be shown that the inversion of the "knowledge is power" dictum to "power is knowledge" has significant implications for the theory and practice of knowledge management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalTamara Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


Cite this