A Systematic Literature Review on Agility in Knowledge-intensive Organizations





Knowledge management, knowledge-intensive organization, organizational agility, systematic literature review


Organizational agility may be an antidote against threats from volatile, uncertain, complex, or ambiguous corporate environments. While agility has been extensively examined in manufacturing enterprises, comparably less is known about agility in knowledge-intensive organizations. As results may not be transferable, there is still some confusion about how agility in knowledge-intensive organizations can be characterized, what factors facilitate its development, what its organizational effects are, and what environmental conditions favor these effects. This study closes these gaps by presenting a systematic literature review on agility in knowledge-intensive organizations. A systematic literature search led to a sample of 37 relevant papers for our review. Integrating the knowledge-based view and a dynamic capabilities perspective, we (1) present different relevant conceptualizations of organizational agility, (2) discuss relevant knowledge management-related as well as information technology-related capabilities that support the development of organizational agility, and (3) shed light on the moderating role of environmental conditions in enhancing organizational agility and its effect on organizational performance. This academic paper adds value to theory by synthesizing existing research on agility in knowledge-intensive organizations. It furthermore may serve as a map for closing research gaps by proposing an extensive agenda for future research. Our study expands existing literature reviews on agility with its specific focus on a knowledge-intensive context and its integration of the research streams of knowledge management capabilities as well as information technology capabilities. It integrates relevant organizational knowledge management practices and the use of knowledge management systems to ensure superior performance effects. Our study can serve as a base for future examinations of organizational agility by illustrating fruitful topics for further examination as well as open questions. It may also provide value to practitioners by showing what factors favor the development of agility in knowledge-intensive organizations and what organizational effects can be achieved under which conditions.