Investigating the Impact of Knowledge Management Factors on New Product Development Performance

Investigating the Impact of Knowledge Management Factors on New Product Development Performance

Belbaly Nassim (GSCM–Montpellier Business School, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-555-1.ch014


Knowledge is recognized as an important weapon for new product development (NPD) performance, and many firms are beginning to manage the knowledge detained by their new product development processes. Researchers have investigated knowledge management factors such as enablers, creation processes, and performance. However, very few studies have explored the relationship between these factors in the context of new product development (NPD). To fill this gap, this article develops a research model which applies the knowledge management factors to the NPD context. The model includes five enablers: collaboration, trust, learning, team leadership characteristics, and t-shaped skills with an emphasis on the knowledge creation processes such as socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization. The results confirm the strong support of the research model and the impact of the independent variables (knowledge management enablers) on the dependent variables (knowledge creation and NPD performance). In light of these findings, the implications for both theory and practice are discussed.
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Conceptual Framework

Studies have emphasized three factors for managing knowledge: enablers, processes, and NPD performance (see Figure 1) (Beckman, 1999; Belbaly & Benbya, 2006; Demarest, 1997; O’Dell & Grayson, 1999). Knowledge management enablers are organizational mechanisms for fostering knowledge consistently (Ichijo, Krogh, & Nonaka, 1998) and provide the infrastructure necessary for the organization to increase its efficiency of knowledge processes (Sarvary, 1999). Knowledge management enablers can stimulate knowledge creation, protect knowledge, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge in an organization (Stonehouse & Pemberton, 1999). Knowledge processes can be thought of as a structured coordination for managing knowledge effectively (Gold et al., 2001), including activities such as creation, sharing, storage, and usage (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Beckman, 1999). Finally, NPD performance may be defined as the degree to which companies achieve their business objectives (Davenport, 1999). The relationship among these three factors can be found in the input-output process model by Hackerman and Morris (1978) and explained in the knowledge-chain model (Holsapple and Singh, 2001). In this article, we have used these two models assuming that the input Knowledge management factors affect the output NPD performance through certain kinds of interaction processes; this means that the knowledge management enablers affect NPD performance throughout the knowledge creation process (Lee & Choi, 2003).

Figure 1.

Research framework for studying knowledge management factors

The two sets of knowledge management enablers dealt with in this article are organizational culture, and people (Chase, 1997; Davenport et al., 1998; Graham & Pizzo, 1996; Long, 1997; O’Dell & Grayson, 1999). Organizational culture is a key element of managing organizational change and renewal and remains the most important and most thoroughly studied factor for successful knowledge management (Davenport et al., 1998). Organizational culture acts as an influencing factor of the knowledge creation process (Quinn, Anderson, & Finkelstein, 1996). In reality, culture defines not only what knowledge is valued, but also what knowledge must be kept inside the organization for sustaining NPD performance. A culture of collaboration, trust and learning is required to encourage the application and development of knowledge within the NPD process of an organization (Krogh, 1998; Miller 1996), and as a consequence to enhance the NPD performance.

The second knowledge management enabler is at the heart of organizational knowledge creation (Choi & Lee, 2003; Holsapple et al., 2001); this is because it’s people who create and share knowledge. Therefore, managing people who are willing to create and share knowledge is important (O’Dell & Grayson, 1999). In a NPD context, the people within an organization may encourage knowledge creation (Choi & Lee, 2003; Holsapple et al., 2001). Our study includes two key structural enablers that influence the knowledge creation process for the people: team leader characteristics and T-shaped skills (Leonard-Barton, 1995; Muczyk & Reimann, 1987).

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