رویکرد مدیریت دانش به مزیت رقابتی سازمانی: شواهدی از بخش مواد غذایی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|397||2009||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 27, Issue 2, April 2009, Pages 129–141
This paper uses a comparative case study approach to investigate how two small Italian food producers manage their knowledge. The first company under consideration is mainly focused on marketing, while the second on the technology knowledge domain. This paper enriches the existing literature by documenting examples of how companies can successfully manage organizational knowledge on the basis of their relative knowledge domain. This research claims that not only knowledge domain but also innovation behavior seem to be the contingencies that mostly impact on knowledge management system features. In fact, the different combinations of the two variables have deeply different requirements in terms of knowledge management.
Knowledge has been recognized as an important source of competitive advantage and value creation (King and Zeithalm, 2003), as an indispensable ingredient for the development of dynamic core competencies and, more generally, as a determinant factor for firms with global ambitions. Moreover, knowledge that firms acquire is a dynamic resource that needs to be nourished and managed carefully. Although this is true for all industries, it is particularly relevant to all those traditional sectors where companies have to cope with globalisation, mature markets, increased customer service, cost reduction and changing purchasing behaviors. The food industry is among these and, due to its great impact on employment and economic output (Menrad, 2004), it has alerted the managerial and academic communities to understand the importance of how to create and effectively use knowledge based resources. According to Murdoch and Miele (1999), the food industry is increasingly bifurcating into two main systems of production: on one hand, standardized, specialized production processes responding to economic standards of efficiency and competitiveness; on the other hand, localized, specialized production processes focused on environmental, nutritional, taste or health qualities. Although distinctions can be made between the two above-mentioned food systems from a theoretic standpoint, some case studies do show that there are no clear boundaries between them. For example, Murdoch and Miele (1999) provide two case studies that illustrate the complexity of contemporary food production in Italy. The first regards a large egg producer that gradually moved from standardized, generic egg production towards new ‘natural’ and ‘animal-friendly’ products dedicated to specific consumer groups. The second case involves a group of small organic producers that partially standardized their production processes. Other authors (e.g. Alfranca et al., 2003) claim that strong differences in terms of profit pools, innovation strategy and implementation exist and call for studies that point to within-industry differences. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) dominate the European food industry. Italy exemplifies this situation as 90% of total companies are SMEs and only 7% have more than 20 employees (according to Federalimentare ISMEA, 2005). The food sector in Italy represents the second most important industry in terms of sales, 14% of which refers to export. The food industry is often categorized as a traditional, low-skilled, labour intensive and low-tech sector, where R&D activity is limited and patenting is rare (see e.g. Avermaete et al., 2004 and Foresti, 2005). Most innovations in the food industry come into being by applying and transferring knowledge from other sectors, as also confirmed by the flows of outbound and inbound patents in the sector (see e.g. Baldi, 2005). It is an industry where traditional knowledge (including cultural manifestations, production technologies, agricultural knowledge and literature) has great importance. Moreover, strong efforts are made, sometimes successfully, to use and protect this knowledge. Unfortunately, some contributions (e.g. Occelli, 2005) demonstrate that European policies and programs regarding safety and control, along with the forces of globalisation, seem to have a negative effect on that attempt to preserve knowledge. This paper aims to offer new insights on how SMEs in the food industry manage, exploit and nourish their knowledge in order to gain a competitive advantage. It is worth noting that the focus here is on the relationship between knowledge management (KM) and competitive advantage, regardless of whether this passes through technological innovation, radical changes or a combination of these factors. The reason for this fine distinction is that the literature on innovation mainly tends to stress that innovation primarily occurs in reference to technology (see e.g. Nelson and Rosenberg, 1993) and that change is more significant than continuity. Contrary to this tendency, food producers are not necessarily avid technology users and they tend to focus mainly on continuous improvements of products, often line-extensions or me-too products, rather than on change. Some authors (e.g. Kanter, 1999) validate this choice by taking an even more cautious view of the impact of innovation on competitive advantage due to the high level of uncertainty involved that does not guarantee success. This paper will present a brief theoretical background on methods and systems that can help companies in knowledge management, with a special focus on SMEs. Secondly, the research methodology will be described. Thirdly, empirical evidence from the cases will be provided; next, the results will be discussed and, finally, some conclusions will be drawn.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Although these case studies refer to firms that are similar in dimension and settings, they represent two rather different ways of managing, exploiting, and nourishing knowledge in order to achieve a competitive advantage. Basically, it can be observed that neither of the companies has developed a deliberate policy for KM. Indeed, both of them are aware of the importance of knowledge as a competitive factor. Furthermore, their strategies, structures and cultures satisfy, sometimes unconsciously, the most important requirements for effective KMSs. Therefore, in the following, the term KMS is used to describe the mix of organizational, managerial and technological levers activated inside the companies for managing knowledge. It is worth noting that these levers are not perceived inside the companies as instruments for KM. This is in line with previous research on the topic (see e.g. KPMG, 1998), where the same lack of awareness on KM issues among SMEs was detected. The KMSs emerging from the case studies include different mechanisms and different levers for managing the four key knowledge processes: creation/acquisition, transfer and sharing, storage and retrieval, and application. The differences between the KMSs can only be partly explained by referring to the different dominant knowledge domains in the two firms. What seems to emerge from the cases is that another element should be considered in order to explain such differences: the company’s innovation behavior. In the following section, innovation behavior is defined and described in both cases. Subsequently, discussion involves the differences in KMSs, respectively, due to the dominant knowledge domain and to innovation behavior.