Market of Resources as a Knowledge Management Enabler in VE

Market of Resources as a Knowledge Management Enabler in VE

Maria Manuela Cunha (Polytechnic Institute of Cavado and Ave, Portugal) and Goran D. Putnik (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch063
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Abstract

Knowledge is, undoubtedly, an indispensable asset for organizations to compete effectively (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Murray, 2002). New organizational models, such as the virtual enterprise (VE) model, characterized as dynamically reconfigurable information-based global networked structures, are emerging. New technological environments and solutions are being developed to support them, and the importance of knowledge and the capability of managing it by creating the organizational conditions that facilitate the generation, sharing, and application of knowledge are more and more critical. In a global organization, as defended by Kluge, Stein, and Licht (2001), face-to-face relationships are not possible, giving rise to difficulties in accepting knowledge from outside. This applies more deeply in virtual enterprises (or in virtual organizations) in the interactions among the independent partners who tend more and more to fear the leakage of private knowledge. This situation promotes competition and rivalry and, as suggested by Prahalad and Hamel (1990), impedes collaboration and knowledge sharing, precisely two of the main underlying issues of this organizational model. A supporting environment, such as the market of resources proposed by the authors, is the way to assure effective knowledge management between the members of a virtual enterprise and business strategic alignment enabling the performance improvement of the VE. In an environment to support VE integration, knowledge management is simultaneously a tool and an object. As a tool, knowledge management can be used by the market of resources to reduce transaction costs in VE integration and VE reconfiguration; as an object, knowledge must be protected and knowledge leakage prevented to assure trust and protection of VE participants. The broker (an integrating element of the market of resources) is, besides other attributions, responsible for advising the VE owner in identifying and communicating the role of knowledge management within the VE business plan and for ensuring the permanent alignment between business strategy and knowledge strategy within the network of independent enterprises that constitute the VE. The broker must ensure that the global knowledge sharing is not threatened by deficient knowledge management procedures and, simultaneously, that any instance of the VE (as a reconfigurable network) at a given time, is able to respond to the market requirements with its maximum performance, that is, is business aligned. In this article, we introduce the VE disabling factors and the functionalities for VE integration, briefly present the market of resources as an environment to support VE integration, assuring business alignment and knowledge management, identify the main strengths and problems associated with the implementation of knowledge management functions, and, finally, discuss the main opportunities associated to the implementation and exploitation of the market of resources.

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