Researchers Propose a Model to Better Manage Knowledge and Innovation in Multinational Corporations
With a clear understanding of knowledge management, executives can make more effective managerial decisions. Knowledge management has been evaluated from various perspectives. This variation may differ because knowledge management is understood in many different ways and therefore different scholars focus on different aspects of it and offer several options of managerial application. These perspectives are discussed below.
Taking a Technological Perspective
Executives know that they can take a technological perspective. In this case, the executive understands how knowledge management as facilitating organizational processes and activities uses information technology to organize existing information. Executives have found that knowledge management embraces information technology to convert individual knowledge into valuable resources for their organization. Executives focus on individuals as the major source of knowledge and show how followers tie together so that they can effectively share the storage, transfer, and application of knowledge within organizations. Executives, therefore, see these connections, and the related shared knowledge and memory, as central to the effectiveness of knowledge management.
Taking an Economic Perspective
Executives agree with Doyle McCarthy, who sees society as a product of knowledge. Defining culture as various forms of knowledge and symbols that make up an organization’s culture. However, knowledge is a by-product of culture and knowledge’s role in guiding and facilitating people’s action is key to executive decision-making. Four scholars by the names of Bernard Marr, Oliver Gupta, Stephen Pike, and Goran Roos define knowledge management as “a set of activities and processes aimed at creating value through generating and applying intellectual capital.”
Executives direct practices that create value from intangible organizational resources. For executives, it is clear that the objective of managing knowledge is to add value to organizations. The focus here is that executives consider the fact a firm’s knowledge is positively associated with its outcomes.
Taking a Process Perspective
The process perspective focuses on knowledge flows that executives use through embracing the processes of knowledge management for strategic management decision-making. Managing knowledge is not new, scholars have considered the various processes involved. Executives can look at three-step processes of knowledge accumulation, integration, and reconfiguration. Jang-Hwan Lee and Young-Gul Kim’s model for managing knowledge takes a strategic process-oriented approach and is relevant to executive leadership. Executives build a climate of openness for individuals to exchange ideas. Knowledge is accumulated by creating a new approach to gathering, evaluating, and disseminating information throughout the organizations.
Executives inspire people to create new ideas and develop effective mechanisms to acquire knowledge from various sources such as suppliers, customers, business partners, and competitors. This is similar to a value-chain approach. Executives need to first support this approach for the model to work because they play a strategic role in expanding the knowledge accumulation through applying incentives as mechanisms to develop a more innovative climate and managing effective tools to acquire knowledge from external sources.
Executives then integrate knowledge internally to enhance the effectiveness and efficiencies in various systems and processes, as well as to be more responsive to market changes.
Accumulated knowledge is synthesized to produce higher quality outcomes. Thus, knowledge integration focuses on monitoring and controlling knowledge management practices, evaluating the effectiveness of current knowledge, defining and recognizing core knowledge areas, coordinating expert opinions, sharing organizational knowledge, and scanning for new knowledge to keep the quality of their product or services continuously improving.
Executives can promote knowledge integration by creating expert groups or steering committees to enhance knowledge quality and evaluate knowledge assets. Follower’s diversity of skills and interpersonal relations that is based on trust and reciprocity can improve the performance of group cohesiveness.
Therefore, in the process of knowledge integration, knowledge enters organizational processes and provides valuable contributions to products and services. Executives as leaders steering the organizational strategy facilitate this process, by undertaking initiatives that improve knowledge transfer, thus enhancing the performance of employees and the implementation of effective changes to maintain the quality of products and services. The burden of success when the effective implementation of knowledge integration is concerned is heavily dependent on the capabilities of the organization’s leaders.
Executives must also curtail knowledge within organizations. This knowledge needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges. At the same time, it should not be leaked to the competition in any shape or form unless agreed upon by senior executives. When executives agree to share knowledge with other organizations in the environment, studies have shown that that knowledge is often difficult to share externally. One reason is that other organizations have too much pride to accept knowledge or are apprehensive to expose themselves to the competition.
Therefore, executives may lack the required capabilities to interact with other organizations, or distrust sharing their knowledge. In addition, just the notion of creating an expert group or steering committee may be shortsighted because such groups may not have sufficient diversity to comprehend knowledge acquired from external sources. On the other hand, executives are aware of networking with business partners is a key activity for organizations to enhance knowledge exchange.
Networking is a critical concern for leaders in this process is developing alliances with partners in external environments. Executives and their expert groups and/or steering committees are the ones who can make final decisions about developing alliances with business partners. Figure 1 depicts this model of knowledge management.
There are some executives that like to look at academic journals but unfortunately, the crossover literature has not reached them enough. This article attempts to blend scholarly concepts with real-world applications. This article introduces an applicable model to evaluate knowledge management success. Also, this article provides evidence that knowledge management is used in corporate infrastructure for strategic decision-making.
Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.
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