Customers as External Sources of Knowledge to Foster Innovation

Customers as External Sources of Knowledge to Foster Innovation

Laura Zapata Cantú (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico) and José Luis Pineda (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6547-7.ch024


The overall aim and contribution of this chapter is to identify the main sources of knowledge generation in Mexican firms and the organizational elements that are relevant in this process. Knowledge generation occurs through external knowledge acquisition and internal knowledge creation. The latter process is facilitated by personal motivation and the learning opportunities it offers to the organization's employees, who play a key role as initiative and suggestion carriers. In order to evaluate the phenomenon under study, which the literature review reflects as an incipient stage, an exploratory study was conducted. Several interviews were conducted in 23 firms. The results show how knowledge generation activities differ among services and manufacturing firms in 23 Mexican organizations. Services firms emphasize course socialization, meetings, customers and outsourcing, manufacturing in customers, and employee self-directed learning.
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Knowledge Generation

Theorists argue that knowledge is the distinctive resource of the firm (Grant 1996; Davenport and Prusak, 2001). The strategic approach based on knowledge identifies the generation and application of knowledge as fundamental bases of the firm (Kogut and Zander 1992; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Foss, 1996; and Grant, 1996). All successful organizations create and use knowledge as a fundamental tool as organizations interact with their environment, absorb information, make informed decisions and carry out actions based on the combination of this knowledge and their experiences, values and rules. All of these are activities that make up the knowledge generation process in organizations (Nonaka and Toyama, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning through Action: This action learning process involves the company's historical inferences embodied in organizational routines that guide behavior and requires tools or mechanisms to convert the knowledge of individuals and teams undertaking collective knowledge.

Creation of Internal Knowledge: Process that increases knowledge in organizations created by specific individuals and as part of the knowledge network inside company.

Acquisition of External Knowledge: This occurs when organization knowledge is combining with external knowledge coming from suppliers, customers, new members, alliances and when the employees attend courses and seminars. When an organization chooses this option it is because the company does not have the dynamic capabilities for rapid creation, either because such knowledge is often highly tacit or because the creative process takes time and has a high opportunity cost.

Knowledge Generation: Institutionalized activity, so each organization must be able to establish its own creative routines, processes and human intervention to make possible to have new knowledge or to increase their organizational knowledge. These activities involve external acquisitions of knowledge and internal creation of this intangible resource.

Customer: In knowledge generation process, customers play a relevant role as a main source of external knowledge. Focusing on customers as a key source of knowledge generation is relevant since they are a valuable source of information for new product development, providing a new service or improving a product or service available in the market.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): CRM is a useful strategic tool for organizations that have a clear commitment to the market, as it supports the effort to identify the best customers, understand their needs and design the best ways to meet those needs. It is a cornerstone of the concept of relationship marketing.

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