Purpose: This study aims to contribute to understanding of knowledge management and sharing in the public sector in the Middle East through a case study based investigation of knowledge management initiatives and associated challenges and barriers. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 police officers of different rank and position. Questions focussed on knowledge management strategies and approaches to encouraging employees to exchange and share knowledge, and difficulties associated with encouraging officers to share knowledge. Interviews were either recorded and transcripts created, or notes were taken. A three-stage thematic analysis of the interview transcripts was undertaken. Findings: The Dubai Police Force has made a strategic commitment to the development of knowledge management to enhance performance. It established a Skills Investment Programme in 2003, a Knowledge Management Department in 2005, and more recently, in 2009, a Curriculum Department. However, the evidence from interviews suggests that the force has yet to succeed in embedding a knowledge culture. Four key factors were identified repeatedly as potential barriers to knowledge sharing: organizational structure, leadership, time allocation, and trust. Originality/value: This article demonstrates the importance of leadership, time allocation, and trust in promoting a knowledge culture and encouraging knowledge sharing. In Arab cultures, leadership and trust, and associated rewards such as respect have a particular role to play. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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