The Relevance of Customers as a Source of Knowledge in IT Firms

The Relevance of Customers as a Source of Knowledge in IT Firms

Laura Zapata Cantú (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico) and José Luis Pineda (Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3886-0.ch065
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The overall aim and contribution of this chapter is to identify the main sources of knowledge generation in IT-related SMEs and the organizational elements that support 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, two-step exploratory research was conducted. In the first stage, eight interviews were conducted in four firms. The objective of the second phase was to validate some of the insight from the first stage, so a questionnaire designed for the research purpose was administered. The results show that knowledge in SMEs in the IT sector is generated mainly by employee self-learning, meetings and customers as an external source. These activities are strongly supported by the employees’ opportunity to learn and by organizational culture.
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Knowledge Generation

Theorists argue that knowledge is the distinctive resource of the firm (Grant 1996, Davenport and Prusak, 2001; Tsoukas, 2009). 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).

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