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Knowledge Management Research and Practice
Digital Technologies and Knowledge Assets in Public Sector


Guest Editors

Submission Timeline 

  • Submission Deadline: 31st March 2024

About the issue

Since the 2000s, the use of digital technologies as tools supporting procedures and practices within the public sector has grown considerably (Liu and Yuan, 2015). Machine-learning-based and workflow software, together with blockchain-based and Artificial Intelligence tools, are just some of the technologies employed by public sector organisations for providing public services (Zekić-Sušac et al., 2021; Etscheid, 2019).

The use of these technologies not only requires public sector organisations to have a good level of knowledge skills, but also can represent a lever for improving the public sector cognitive resources. Indeed, the public sector is composed of knowledge-based organisations (Rantanen et al., 2007), in which the exploitation of cognitive resources becomes crucial to guarantee and satisfy the expectations of the plurality of stakeholders that get in touch with them, such as citizens, private organisations, and public employees (Mittal, 2020). The stock of knowledge is embedded within knowledge assets, which are classified into three subgroups, namely human, relational, and structural assets (Castro et al., 2013; Lerro & Schiuma, 2011). These assets not only are sources of value creation (Schiuma et al., 2007), but they are also fueled by knowledge transfer processes in a virtuous cycle of value creation (Garcia-Perez et al., 2021; Mehta, 2007). Thus, knowledge assets can be considered a variable to be pondered and governed for value creation (Bracci et al., 2019; Papi et al. 2018) within the public sector, which includes not only publicly funded organisations carrying out a specific public service, such as healthcare (Kosklin et al, 2022), schools and universities (Yoo et al., 2020), municipalities (Cajková et al, 2021) and public archives (Baron and Thurston, 2016), but also the so-called hybrids that combine private and public interests, such as public-private partnerships and social enterprises (Laihonen, H., & Kokko 2020; Villela et al. 2019; European Union, 2022). In this scenario, the introduction of new digital tools can potentially contribute to the value creation process by innovating the knowledge assets within the public sector organisations. Firstly, these technologies potentially innovate the human assets by promoting collaboration (Bai and Li, 2020) among multidisciplinary staff with different knowledge and capabilities (Brunetti et al., 2020). Secondly, they can innovate the relational assets by fostering knowledge sharing activities with external stakeholders (mainly citizens) (Capdevila and Zarlenga, 2015). For example, they may increase the engagement of the stakeholders in policy decisions and share resources with business partners (Pang et al., 2014). Finally, they can innovate the structural assets by affecting the re-engineering/digitalisation of processes (Tortorella et al., 2022).

The extant literature often studies knowledge assets and digital technologies within public sector organisations separately. On the one hand, several contributions investigate the use of digital technologies as support tools for public sector service provision and their impact on the public sector organisations’ performance. For instance, Danziger and Andersen (2002) discuss the positive effects of digital technologies on public sector efficiency and rationality. Accordingly, Liu and Yuan (2015), and Rinaldi et al. (2015) explain how information and communication technologies are potential tools through which public sector organisations can operate more efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, other studies investigate the knowledge assets’ role in the public sector organisations. For example, Mc Evoy et al. (2018) highlight the causal link among knowledge assets, technology, structure and people within public sector organisations. Mirzaie et al. (2019) investigate the positive, meaningful impact of knowledge management on the public sector human assets in terms of individual attitude and competency improvement. Belmonte da Silva et al. (2021) show that structural assets have a positive, significant and direct effect on the innovation capacity of public sector organisations. In the same vein, Eger et al. (2010) and Drake et al. (2004) describe the role of the relational asset, explaining how knowledge sharing leads the stakeholder engagement within public sector organisational decision-making processes and thus to value creation. They also shed light on the role of digital technologies as crucial elements for communicating and coordinating information among stakeholders within public sector organisations (Eger et al., 2010; Drake et al., 2004). Equally interesting is the recent work by Santarsiero et al. (2021), which shows the link between Big Data and organisational knowledge assets (human, relational and structural) for the creation of value also in public sector organisations.

Despite these crucial and recognised peculiarities, the role of digital technologies in innovating the knowledge assets and thus in contributing to the value creation process within public sector organisations remains relatively unexplored (Iacuzzi et al., 2019). This special issue seeks to overcome this literature gap by looking for theoretical and empirical contributions that address how digital technologies impact the public sector organisations’ knowledge assets. Indeed, by bridging these two different conversations (knowledge assets within public sector organisations, on the one hand, and digital technologies within public sector organisations, on the other), this Special Issue aims at starting a path towards the achievement of a synthesised coherence (Grant and Pollok, 2011): the objective is to unveil the mechanisms by which digital technologies can sustain and change the three subgroups of the knowledge assets and how these subgroups filter down to value creation and distribution towards the different public sector organisations’ stakeholders. This is extremely pivotal, since, similarly to what happens in other contexts (Lanzolla et al., 2021), it’s not possible to simply assume that digital technologies in public sector organisations will leave the underlying structure unchanged, while producing per se positive effects on the knowledge assets and hence create value.

Specifically, the special issue will gather contributions related to the themes from a range of perspectives.


Submissions may focus on, but are not limited to, the following research questions:

  • What is the impact of digital technologies on the public sector organisations’ knowledge assets?

  • What systems are in use for measuring the impact of digital technologies on value creation in the public sector?

  • How do digital technologies support public sector organisations in value-creation through the innovation of their knowledge assets?

  • What are the most suitable digital tools to support knowledge transfer in feeding the knowledge assets?

  • What are the boundary conditions of when digital technologies might enable the innovation of the knowledge assets in public sector organizations?

  • What are the antecedents of the knowledge assets on which digital technologies produce an impact in public sector organizations?

  • What are the barriers that may hamper digital technologies from sustaining and changing the knowledge assets in public sector organizations?

  • What are the organizational, managerial and strategic tools that allow digital technologies to positively impact public sector organizations’ knowledge assets?

  • How may digital technologies impact negatively the public sector organizations’ knowledge assets?

  • How may digital technologies improve the efficiency and/or efficacy of the public sector organizations’ processes by tackling the knowledge assets?

  • In what situations digital technologies used in public sector organizations trigger possible tensions between the knowledge assets?

  • What are the reasons that underpin potentially conflicting outcomes of digital technologies on the knowledge assets in public sector organizations?


  • Bai, X., & Li, J. (2020). The best configuration of Collaborative Knowledge Innovation Management from the perspective of Artificial Intelligence. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1-13. doi:10.1080/14778238.2020.1834886

  • Baron, J. R., & Thurston, A. (2016). What lessons can be learned from the US archivist’s digital mandate for 2019 and is there potential for applying them in lower resource countries? Records Management Journal, 26(2), 206–217.

  • Belmonte Da Silva, R., Fernández Jardón, C. M., & Veiga Avila, L. (2021). Effects of Structural Intellectual Capital on The Innovation Capacity of Public Administration. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 16(3), 66–78.

  • Bracci, E., Papi, L., Bigoni, M., Deidda Gagliardo, E., & Bruns, H. J. (2019). Public value and public sector accounting research: a structured literature review. Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 31(1), 103–136.

  • Brunetti, F., Matt, D. T., Bonfanti, A., de Longhi, A., Pedrini, G., & Orzes, G. (2020). Digital transformation challenges: strategies emerging from a multi-stakeholder approach. The TQM Journal, 32(4), 697–724.

  • Cajková, A., Jankelová, N., & liuMasár, D. (2021). Knowledge management as a tool for increasing the efficiency of municipality management in Slovakia. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1-11. doi:10.1080/14778238.2021.1895686

  • Capdevila, I., & Zarlenga, M. I. (2015). Smart City or Smart Citizens? The Barcelona Case. SSRN Electronic Journal.

  • Castro, G. M., Delgado-Verde, M., Amores-Salvadó, J., & Navas-López, J. E. (2013). Linking human, technological, and relational assets to Technological Innovation: Exploring a new approach. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 11(2), 123-132. doi:10.1057/kmrp.2013.8

  • Danziger, J. N., & Andersen, K. V. (2002). The impacts of Information Technology on Public Administration: an analysis of empirical research from the “golden age” of transformation. International Journal of Public Administration, 25(5), 591–627.

  • Drake, D.B.; Steckler, N.A.; Koch, M.J. Information sharing in and across government agencies:  The roleand influence of scientist, politician, and bureaucrat subcultures.Soc. Sci. Comput. Rev.2004,22, 67–84.

  • Eger, J.M.; Maggipinto, A. Technology as a tool of transformation: E-cities and the rule of law. Information Systems: People, Organizations, Institutions, and Technologies; AD′Atri, S., Ed.; Physica-VerlagHD: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2010; 23–30

  • Etscheid, J. (2019). Artificial Intelligence in Public Administration. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 248–261.

  • European Union, 2022, Promoting social enterprise (accessed on 11 November 2022)

  • Garcia-Perez, A., Ghio, A., Occhipinti, Z., & Verona, R. (2020). Knowledge management and intellectual capital in knowledge-based organisations: a review and theoretical perspectives. Journal of Knowledge Management, 24(7), 1719–1754.

  • Iacuzzi, S., Massaro, M., & Garlatti, A. (2020). Value creation through collective intelligence: Managing intellectual capital. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 18(1), 68-79.

  • Kosklin, R., Lammintakanen, J., & Kivinen, T. (2022). Knowledge management effects and performance in Health Care: A Systematic Literature Review. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1-11. doi:10.1080/14778238.2022.2032434

  • Lanzolla, G., Pesce, D., & Tucci, C. L. (2021). The digital transformation of search and recombination in the innovation function: Tensions and an integrative framework. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 38(1), 90-113.

  • Laihonen, H., & Kokko, P. (2020b). Knowledge management and hybridity of institutional logics in public sector. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1–15.

  • Lerro, A.& Schiuma, G. (2011). Knowledge-based dynamics for local development, International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, 2(1), pp. 1–15.

  • Liu, S. M., & Yuan, Q. (2015). The Evolution of Information and Communication Technology in Public Administration. Public Administration and Development, 35(2), 140–151.

  • Mc Evoy, P. J., Ragab, M. A., & Arisha, A. (2018). The effectiveness of knowledge management in the public sector. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 17(1), 39–51.

  • Mehta, N. (2007). The value creation cycle: Moving towards a framework for knowledge management implementation. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 5(2), 126-135. doi:10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500129

  • Mirzaie, M., Javanmard, H., & Reza Hasankhani, M. (2019). Impact of knowledge management process on human capital improvement in Islamic Consultative Assembly. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 17(3), 316-327. doi:10.1080/14778238.2019.1599579

  • Papi, L., Bigoni, M., Bracci, E., & Deidda Gagliardo, E. (2018). Measuring public value: a conceptual and applied contribution to the debate. Public Money & Management, 38(7), 503-510.

  • Rantanen, H., Leva, K., & Pekkola, S. (2007). Performance measurement implementation in a knowledge-based public organisation. International Journal of Business and Systems Research, 1(3), 343.

  • Rinaldi, M., Montanari, R., & Bottani, E. (2015). Improving the efficiency of public administrations through business process reengineering and simulation. Business Process Management Journal, 21(2), 419–462.

  • Santarsiero, F., Carlucci, D., & Jarrar, Y. (2021). Creating value from Big Data: A knowledge assets-based view. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1-11. doi:10.1080/14778238.2021.2015264

  • Schiuma, G., Ordo ́n ̃ez de Pablos, P. & Spender, J. C. (2007) Intellectual capital and company’s value creation dynamics, International Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital, 4(4), pp. 331–341.

  • Tortorella, G., Prashar, A., Vassolo, R., Cawley Vergara, A. M., Godinho Filho, M., & Samson, D. (2022). Boosting the impact of knowledge management on innovation performance through industry 4.0 adoption. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1-17. doi:10.1080/14778238.2022.2108737

  • Villela, M., Bulgacov, S., & Morgan, G. (2019). B Corp Certification and Its Impact on Organizations Over Time. Journal of Business Ethics, 170(2), 343–357.

  • Yoo, S., Jeong, S., Song, J. H., & Bae, S. (2020). Transformational leadership and knowledge creation practices in Korean and US schools: Knowledge assets as Mediators. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 19(2), 263-275. doi:10.1080/14778238.2020.1767519

  • Zekić-Sušac, M., Mitrović, S., & Has, A. (2021). Machine learning based system for managing energy efficiency of public sector as an approach towards smart cities. International Journal of Information Management, 58, 102074.

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