Purpose: The growing needs of interdisciplinary research have been hindered by implementation difficulties due to factors such as the availability and distribution of related knowledge. Knowledge management could be a viable solution to address the problems of interdisciplinary research and further its synergic effect by optimizing the use of knowledge across different disciplines. A knowledge management ecological (KME) approach that facilitates the study of knowledge management in discourses between different disciplines was proposed and applied in a case study within an interdisciplinary environment comprising three disciplines: software development, software business, and music education. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three groups of key informants to examine the knowledge management processes within the environment. Findings: The findings reveal the details of knowledge management activities in each of the three disciplines, but the lack of collaboration between them limits the opportunity for a synergistic effect to benefit the cross-discipline environment. Originality/value: This study shows how the KME approach can be used to deepen the interdisciplinary understanding of knowledge management within and between different disciplines. Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited.