Autonomy and Knowledge Processes - a Systematic Literary Review


  • Jarmo Pekkanen LUT University Business School
  • Aino Kianto LUT University Business School
  • Mika Vanhala LUT University Business School



Knowledge processes, knowledge production, autonomy


Knowledge processes, such as knowledge creation, sharing and application, enable knowledge production that increases innovation and superior organizational performance. Knowledge processes are ultimately and fundamentally conducted – or not engaged in – by the individuals. Hence, knowledge production is disrupted if individuals are prevented from using their knowledge production potential. One potential factor that causes disruption in knowledge production is the lack of autonomy. As autonomy means self-governance and independency, it enables independent and unique knowledge processing by the individual, and thereby supports both individual and collective level knowledge production. Despite the importance of the role of autonomy in knowledge production, there is no research-based knowledge of which knowledge process have been studied from the perspective of autonomy, and what has been left unexplored. This research clarifies the research literature by finding out which knowledge processes have been studied from the point of view of autonomy. Also, what has been found concerning the relationship between autonomy and knowledge processes is considered. The research was conducted as a systematic literature review supplemented by qualitative content analysis in which the articles up the year 2022 from databases Scopus and Web of Science were reviewed. The most notable finding of this study is the lack of research between autonomy and knowledge identification and the paucity of research between autonomy and knowledge internalization. This is a significant finding since knowledge identification affect what knowledge is processed and produced in the organization. Internalizations in turn affects knowledge-based orientation and knowledge production in the organizational environment. This paper contributes to the organizational research literature by summing up the existing research on the interface of autonomy and knowledge processes and provides a refined understanding on the central role of autonomy in the effective implementation of knowledge processes, as well as avenues for future research.