Purpose - The purpose of this article is to assess the role of artifacts in the knowledge management field in the past 18 years (1997-2015) and to identify directions for future research.
Design/methodology/approach - The authors conducted a systematic literature review of 101 articles published in 7 journals retrieved from EBSCO and Google Scholar online research databases. The framework for analysis included 13 codes, i.e. author(s), title, year of publication, typology, theoretical lens, categorizations, methods for empirical work, relevancy, level of analysis, keywords, findings, research themes, and future research directions. Codes were analyzed using qualitative and quantitative methods.
Findings - Findings lacked cumulativeness and consistency in the current knowledge management debate. Empirical works outnumbered conceptual contributions by two to one, and the majority of articles focused at the organizational level of analysis. Knowledge management systems, knowledge sharing, and digital archives were the major research themes connected to artifacts, together with other closely aligned concepts such as learning and online learning, knowledge transfer and knowledge creation.
Research limitations - This study has temporal and contextual limitations related to covered time span (18 years) and journals subscription restrictions.
Originality/value - This article is a first attempt to systematically review the role of artifacts in knowledge management research and therefore it represents a primary reference in the knowledge management field. It provides directions to future theoretical and empirical studies as well as suggestions to managerial practices.