Darin S. Freeburg
University of South Carolina, United States of America

Tuesday, November 10, 10:30am

This study analyzed how churches create cultures in which the recirculating of the same information is encouraged, or cultures in which new information is introduced regularly. It then analyzed how these cultures impact engagement with important knowledge management (KM) principles. Particular attention was paid to the factors that contribute to a church’s decision to engage in a critical questioning of assumed beliefs—productive inquiry (PI)—shown to be an important behavior in successful organizations. In eight, 90-minute focus groups, 28 congregants from Mainline Protestant churches were asked to discuss the information behavior surrounding their religious beliefs. Qualitative coding and analysis revealed that the introduction of shared information produced barriers to PI, and the introduction of unique information encouraged PI. However, congregations were purposive in their decision to either engage or disengage in this inquiry based on organizational goals. Analysis showed that the decision to engage with PI was dependent upon a number of variables. A model is provided that outlines the necessary conditions for a congregation with a goal of either PI, or its conceptual opposite—reaffirmation of existing information and beliefs. This reaffirmation tended to result from a relationship goal, but it is suggested that this relationship goal might be better achieved through PI. This study has important implications for organizations that could benefit from the implementation of KM but are less receptive to its requirements.