The paper "Knowledge Management and Information Systems" is a great example of a Management Case Study. The changing nature of business has changed the value of information and knowledge to the firm and information systems continually open new opportunities for businesses. Information system especially knowledge management systems provide the analytical powers firms need to excel in the global economy. The tacit knowledge that a firm creates in it operations can be an important source of competitive advantage. However, it has to be tapped and applied in relevant areas of an organization’ s business.
Toyota has excelled at tapping local tacit knowledge and dispersing it for application by other geographical units. This paper analyzes the unique characteristics of Toyota’ s approach to knowledge management that underlines the firm’ s success in it knowledge management initiative. These unique characteristics include reverse knowledge transfer, knowledge co-creation and emphasis on workers as the core of the knowledge management initiative. The second section of this paper compares and contrasts the Knowledge Management (KM) approaches of BP and Toyota. Both use Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) to tap local knowledge and disperse it across their global operations.
However, the BP process of transferring knowledge is characterized by lesser control by the organization than that of Toyota. This section also deals with challenges that may lead to the failure of the BP knowledge management initiative and the measures taken by both BP and Toyota to diminish the possibility of failure in their respective knowledge management systems. Finally, the paper analyzes how the influence of social media will shape the KM strategies of modern organizations. 2.0 Toyota’ s KM Approach The Knowledge management approach of Toyota can be said to include three unique characteristics.
These characteristics are (Ichijo and Kohlbacher 2008): Reverse Knowledge Transfer: knowledge flows from local units to international MNC operations. Knowledge Co-creation: Toyota creates and shares knowledge with external partners and potential competitors Emphasis on people: The inclusion of employees as the main sources of knowledge. 2.1 Reverse Knowledge Transfer Reverse Knowledge transfer (RKT) is a process by which an overseas subsidiary collects local knowledge then utilizes it at the parent firm (Yang, Mudambi and Meyer 2008). Conventionally, the parent firm is the source of knowledge for local subsidiaries.
This was the original approach used by Japan as it used to employ only Japanese Engineers and designers in foreign units. However, Toyota realized that local knowledge can be sources of competitive advantage as it enables the company to react appropriately to the tastes and preferences of local customers (Ichijo and Kohlbacher 2008). In other cases, the knowledge collected in local contexts assists the parent firm in developing a competitive advantage in other markets. Toyota collects valuable tacit knowledge from its staff. The tacit knowledge collected is sometimes too context-oriented and thus hard to collect (Yang, Mudambi and Meyer 2008).
However, the discovered tacit knowledge is very important in securing a competitive advantage. Ichijo and Kohlbacher (2008) note the context-specific knowledge collected from the local operation is or little significance to Toyota’ s operations if it is not used by the company in other parts of the world. Only through use by people who were not involved in creating knowledge is the captured knowledge useful to Toyota. To reach this end, Toyota disperses knowledge collected from local contexts to its headquarters and other subunits.
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