A Cross-National Comparison of Knowledge Management Practices

A Cross-National Comparison of Knowledge Management Practices

George Tovstiga (University of Reading, UK), Len Korot (Institute for Global Management, USA), Leo-Paul Dana (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Gerard McElwee (University of Lincoln, UK)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-931-1.ch016

Abstract

Entrepreneurship, supported by continual innovation, is central to those economies regions and businesses which want to maintain competitive edge (Atherton, 2006). Businesses need to develop flexible, self-adapting organization structures that evolve and grow amidst constant and unpredictable change in their markets. Many businesses have removed political, top-down, command-and-control corporate cultures substituting open, non-hierarchical, team-driven, knowledge-sharing, innovative and rapid response cultures. A distinguishing feature of the successful ‘post Network Age’ enterprise is its intrinsic entrepreneurial character that manifests itself in key organizational knowledge practices relating to organizational culture, processes, content and infrastructure. This article reports on the outcome of field research conducted in the period 1999 to 2003 in which entrepreneurial firms in four geographic regions were analyzed with the help of a diagnostic research tool specifically developed for profiling organizational knowledge-based practices. The diagnostic tool was applied in firms located in the US Silicon Valley, Singapore, the Netherlands and Israel. The article provides evidence that innovative, entrepreneurial firms, irrespective of location, tendto exhibit organizational knowledge practices, cultural beliefs, values and behavioral norms that are more akin than dissimilar, regardless of national context. Key practices common to leading-edge firms in all regions included: (1) a propensity for experimentation; (2) collective sharing of knowledge, and (3) collective decisionmaking. The paper has four aims. It describes the research in terms of a cross-cultural comparison of the four regions, it shows key determinants of competitiveness, profiles regional characteristics which enhance innovation and entrepreneurship and finally closes with a discussion on the implications of the research outcomes for entrepreneurial firms seeking to build a global presence. The rapid rate of technological change, shorter product life cycles and intense global economies has transferred the competitive position of regional economies (O, Shea, R. 2007.171). This is the subject matter of the paper.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Culture: The domain of an organization in which its values, beliefs and behavioural norms determine the effectiveness and efficiency with which knowledge is exploited and used to achieve competitive advantage.

Tacit Knowledge: Highly contextual (‘here and now’) knowledge consisting the predominantly intuition, perceptions, experience and skills sets; this knowledge is difficult to articulate and to transfer; it is typically embedded in people’s minds.

Network Age Enterprise: An emerging form of organization that derives much of its commercial activity by virtue of its high degree of connectivity in networked communities; interactions may be largely virtual and boundaries of the firm are typically permeable.

Innovative, Entrepreneurial Firms: Commercial enterprises with a propensity for risk taking and experimentation; in terms of enterprise maturity these are often (though not necessarily) positioned in the emerging phases of an industry life cycle.

Explicit Knowledge: Universal knowledge that is easily identifiable, easy to articulate, capture and share – typically codified as in books, manuals and reports.

Knowledge-Intensive Firm: An enterprise engaged in the production of valuable new knowledge or goods of an intangible nature; R&D organizations, consultancies and many service-oriented enterprises typically fall in this category.

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