Towards understanding internal knowledge exchange : A single case study

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Industriell teknik

Abstract: Knowledge is a crucial resource in modern business environments. The proper management of an organization’s internal knowledge assets can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage. Literature on knowledge management has identified a large number of factors that influence the transfer of knowledge within organizations. The purpose of this study is to investigate how internal knowledge assets are managed in the R&D department of a large company in the high-tech healthcare industry, what informal and formal organizational factors influence the transfer of knowledge, and to explore possible requirements and success factors for ICTs in knowledge transfer. A qualitative case study approach is adopted and semi-structured interviews with a total of ten members of the research and development departments are performed. A theoretical framework is used with elements from the knowledge-based view of the firm, dimensions of knowledge strategies, operational knowledge management practise, knowledge transformation models, and social exchange theory. The results of the empirical research show a knowledge-heavy company that engages in personalization, as well as codification strategies with the support of ICTs. Socialisation, combination, externalisation, and internalization are identified and related to the organization’s processes and practises. In addition, drivers, such as a friendly, cooperative atmosphere and the complexity of task, as well as deterrents of knowledge transfer, such as lack of time and weaknesses of ICTs, are identified. Interviewees identified several requirements for ICTs, above all low thresholds and the attainment of critical mass, as well as the demand for standardization and formalization. It was also found that employees are willing to document their knowledge in a technological knowledge management system if they can retrieve knowledge for themselves from the same system. This study provides a relevant example of knowledge management and transfer processes and practises, as well as influences on internal knowledge exchange.

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