What is integral knowledge management and why do we need it? How the spiral dynamics model can help us overcome polarized perspectives on knowledge management within organisations


  • Johannes Schunter Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e.V., Diakonie Deutschland | Bread for the World | Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.


Knowledge Management, Integral KM, Spiral Dynamics, Integral Theory, Integral, Wilber


This article proposes a novel approach to knowledge management (KM) based on the Spiral Dynamics (SD) model. It posits that some of the key challenges of KM in organisations stem from the fact that different people in organisations are operating from different worldviews and subsequently different understandings of what knowledge is and how to adequately handle it. The article first identifies five worldviews in KM: The magic view (knowledge provides identity and belonging), the hero view (knowledge is power), the absolutistic view (knowledge is order and truth), the modern view (new knowledge is the driver of success) the pluralistic view (everyone’s knowledge is precious). Each worldview has its own principles, motivations, and shadow sides, and each has something to offer to support KM initiatives in different contexts. This article argues that a sixth, integral view of KM (knowledge is complex, multi-faceted and always changing) which draws on the strengths of all other worldviews can address the frictions and conflicts that often arise in organisations with diverse perspectives on KM. By embracing an integral approach, KM practitioners can create more inclusive and adaptable KM initiatives that better serve the needs of all stakeholders.

Author Biography

Johannes Schunter, Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e.V., Diakonie Deutschland | Bread for the World | Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

Johannes Schunter has been working in various knowledge management and innovation roles with the United Nations Development Programme for 15 years. Today, he is based in Berlin as Head of Knowledge Management for Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e.V., Diakonie Deutschland | Bread for the World | Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe. He also manages his own KM advisory service.


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