The development of new products requires not only the continuous generation and
acquisition of knowledge, but also the continuous dissemination of knowledge. New product development is a complex and multifunctional process that requires cross-functional input and effective coordination among specialized functional areas. However, the dissemination of knowledge does not always happen spontaneously. People with a technical background are often highly individualistic and do not naturally share knowledge. So, at least in a technical environment, the dissemination of knowledge must be fostered by the organization.
In management research, particularly on technology and innovation management, there
has been an explosion of interest in enhancing communication in new product development. The facilitating factors this research identifies would seem intuitively useful in enhancing knowledge dissemination; however, most of this research does not refer to knowledge dissemination explicitly, and these enhancing factors have not been empirically tested for this specific use.
Research on knowledge and its management has not given much attention to the way
knowledge in an organization is generated and disseminated, and the factors that can facilitate these processes. If such factors are mentioned, they are not empirically tested and their relative impact is not addressed.
In this study we identified important factors in enhancing knowledge dissemination,
validated the factors empirically, and determined their relative impact. We focused on
technological knowledge, not on the individual level, but on the firm level. We deduced 17
potential facilitating factors from management research. After in-depth interviews executed at IBM, Philips, Microsoft, Motorola, Sony, Intel, and Merck, we made a selection of these factors on the basis of their perceived applicability by practitioners. In the end, 11 factors remained and these were empirically tested in 277 US high-technology firms, at the strategic business unit level.
The results indicate that individual commitment to the firm, a long-term perspective on
R&D, organizational crises, and the availability of lead user and supplier networks facilitate
knowledge dissemination, while organization redundancy impedes it. Other potential factors, such as the use of information technologies, appear to be non-significant.
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