Knowledge mobilisation in healthcare: a critical review of health sector and generic management literature

Soc Sci Med. 2012 Apr;74(8):1297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.042. Epub 2012 Feb 3.


The health policy domain has displayed increasing interest in questions of knowledge management and knowledge mobilisation within healthcare organisations. We analyse here the findings of a critical review of generic management and health-related literatures, covering the period 2000-2008. Using 29 pre-selected journals, supplemented by a search of selected electronic databases, we map twelve substantive domains classified into four broad groups: taxonomic and philosophical (e.g. different types of knowledge); theoretical discourse (e.g. critical organisational studies); disciplinary fields (e.g. organisational learning and Information Systems/Information Technology); and organisational processes and structures (e.g. organisational form). We explore cross-overs and gaps between these traditionally separate literature streams. We found that health sector literature has absorbed some generic concepts, notably Communities of Practice, but has not yet deployed the performance-oriented perspective of the Resource Based View (RBV) of the Firm. The generic literature uses healthcare sites to develop critical analyses of power and control in knowledge management, rooted in neo-Marxist/labour process and Foucauldian approaches. The review generates three theoretically grounded statements to inform future enquiry, by: (a) importing the RBV stream; (b) developing the critical organisational studies perspective further; and (c) exploring the theoretical argument that networks and other alternative organisational forms facilitate knowledge sharing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Sector / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Management*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Periodicals as Topic / trends