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Knowledge utilisation

Sue Dopson & Louise Fitzgerald are working collaboratively on themes of knowledge mobilization and health services innovation. Working in association with UK and international colleagues, their research programme has broad relevance to both policy makers and practising clinicians and managers.

One current research project focused on a study of managers’ utilization of knowledge across public, private and voluntary sector organizations within the, broadly defined, health care sector. This research focused on managers and their organizational contexts exploring their capability to use up-to-date knowledge. The project examined managers’ use of management knowledge and how experiential and academic knowledge may be more rapidly transposed into use. A key part of the project involved an innovative experiment, evaluating methods of education for senior managers and clinical leaders.

The study found that:

  • The role of certain ‘knowledge leaders’ was critical in applying management knowledge to their specific setting and converting this formal knowledge into local management practices. The personal qualities and capacities of these knowledge leaders such as their status, credibility, enthusiasm and persuasiveness, and their knowledge of the local context are pivotal in motivating others to access and use management knowledge. Such knowledge leaders usefully disrupt local knowledge, broker relationships between insiders and outsiders to share knowledge, and translate abstract academic knowledge into material relevant to practice in their specific context.
  • Managers did seek and use evidence-based knowledge when they experienced both personal and organisational based need. Then they sought to align the evidence-based knowledge with their experiential knowledge to fit it to their organisational context.
  • The work of knowledge leaders was greatly helped if there were opportunities for colleagues to engage with management knowledge without the pressure of their immediate work concerns. Workshops, discussion groups and Action Learning Sets were found to be particularly productive in supporting this engagement with management knowledge.
  • The role of organisational structures, power relations, and cultural divides impacts upon the exchange of knowledge between groups. For example, some groups have strong knowledge paradigms of their own which are highly resistant to new forms of external knowledge. In other instances, patterns of clinical work across disciplines or work groups can support the sharing and blending of knowledge.

The researchers have outlined a series of recommendations for policy makers and institutions, designed to encourage greater use and transfer of knowledge across the health and social care sector.

Research projects

Academics are engaged in new research projects ranging from tax policies, social innovation in health care, to Global Cyber Security.