The Challenges of Knowledge Management -Managing the “Soft” Side- A case study of a joint venture between Volvo Car Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: Increased competition and a more global world economy have resulted in increased inter-firm collaborations. Organizational learning and knowledge sharing are considered to be one of the main motives behind firms engaging in strategic alliances. The concept of knowledge has been studied from a broad spectrum of academic discourses. Following the increase in communications technology in recent decades, focus has generally been on implementing IT systems to solve the problems associated with knowledge management. In addition, there is also a strong emphasis on the creation, storage and dissemination of knowledge in mainstream knowledge literature. This study investigates „knowledge management‟ and the related complexities in the context of an international joint venture (IJV), as strategic alliances are considered to be a race to learn. The study draws upon a literature review on knowledge and strategic alliances, and an in-depth case study on an alliance in the automotive industry. The results discard the notion that knowledge is an “object”, which can be made readily available in organizations. Instead, we support the idea that knowledge should be viewed as the process of “knowing”, occurring in a „community of practice‟. This implies that focus should be directed towards investments on the “soft” side: understanding people in the workplace, how factors such as culture and power are interrelated and how they influence knowledge creating processes.

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