Knowledge Retention in the Service Industry

Knowledge Retention in the Service Industry

Rodrigo Valio Dominguez Gonzalez (University of Campinas, Limeira, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2016010104


Currently, the challenge for researchers and managers in the area of knowledge management is to study methods and models that promote and facilitate the acquisition, retention, distribution and utilization of knowledge by individuals and groups of organizations. The main objective of this paper is to analyze how a company that operates in multi-site service sector is organized internally in order to retain the acquired knowledge. The research strategy used is the simple case study, applied in a large multinational company. The findings points out that the service providing organizations should focus their knowledge retention process in a specific department toward this goal. This department has the task of identifying and registering the best practices and learned lessons among all the employees working on different clients in databases, in addition, to promote the integration of these employees in order to promote the distribution of tacit knowledge.
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1. Introduction

Knowledge management (KM) is not a new issue and currently there are several models and methodologies toward this purpose. In contrast, the specific disciplines surrounding the theme KM still require much development by researchers (Durst and Edvardsson, 2012).

The knowledge retention and distribution can be considered key sub disciplines related to KM process. The importance of retention and distribution of knowledge is due to the fact that the knowledge loss can reduce the competitive advantage and put an organization into economic difficulties (Jennex, 2014; Jennex and Durcikova (2013); Martins and Meyer, 2012; Arif et al., 2009). According to Jennex (2014) and Jennex and Durcikova (2013), organizations lose knowledge through the loss of knowledge workers, the failure to capture the knowledge, the failure to build the repository of knowledge, either through human or electronic storage.

It is a consensus in research on knowledge retention that the exit of employees in an organization can lead to the loss of organizational knowledge (Jennex, 2014; Jennex and Durcikova (2013). DeLong and Davenport (2003) point out that a high level of turnover within an organization can generate an “operational and institutional amnesia imperil”. Furthermore, the condition of the aging society and workforce retirement can lead organizations lose some of the specific job knowledge (Nicholson, 2008). Since organizations cannot afford to lose expert knowledge, they need to find ways of retaining the knowledge in the minds of people inside the organization. If knowledge is not retained organizations are not able to learn from past experiences, having to continually reinvent (MCadam et al., 2012; Du Plessis, 2003).

The service companies, in turn, are characterized as knowledge-intensive companies. Thus, the employee’s knowledge and skills stands out even more on any other organizational asset (MCadam et al., 2012; Evanschtizky et al., 2007). Not all necessary knowledge to provide a service can be developed and accumulated in a single firm (Edvardsson and Oskarsson, 2011). In each site provision of service are developed a lot of knowledge and expertise. When the organization fails to manage this knowledge, diluted among several sites, it becomes less competitive and loses a significant portion of its assets.

The literature review revealed that little research has been conducted in the area of organizational knowledge retention and distribution in the service area with a focus on individual, team and organizational model for knowledge retention and distribution. Several studies dealing with this theme are focused on information technology (IT), focusing on the explicit knowledge of the organization. However, studies about KM should be sensitive to the fact that tacit knowledge is more difficult to imitate, is capable of generating competitive advantage and cannot be stored in databases (Spender, 1996; Grant, 1996; Nickerson and Zenger, 2004). Thus, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the knowledge retention process in a company that operates in multi-site service sector.

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