Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study how managers in manufacturing firms approach the challenge of knowledge management in their organizations.Design/methodology/approach – The research methodology is an in‐depth case study. The empirical data were collected from an international oil and gas manufacturing company operating in more than 30 countries and leader in Spain and Argentina. The purest form of a longitudinal field study, daily participant observation, was feasible as one of the authors is an executive at the firm studied.Findings – Based on the field investigation, the paper presents the process followed to build a knowledge vision in the company, the first stages of the initiative, the development of new projects, and the lessons learned resulting in the creation of a knowledge management unit, a working model, a strategy, and a set of different projects that were on the basis of the competitive advantage of the organization.Research limitations/implications – The perspective proposed in this research should be viewed with some caution, because of the methodological limitations of the present study as the paper drew on detailed descriptions of one organization. The extent to which the local explanation presented develops into a more general framework depends on how well it, or its descendants, explains the “phenomena” in future work.Practical implications – Analyzing knowledge management initiatives in manufacturing companies becomes of major interest as it is relevant to further explore how this initiative can help optimize production processes and integrate operational requirements with enterprise‐level decision‐making processes as well as it adding value to customers in the industry at various stages of the value chain such as exploration, in‐bound logistics, technological operations and out‐bound logistics.Originality/value – The paper is practical in nature and reports on the managerial applications and experiential implications of the matter of study. The research shows the main findings and discusses the main implications as well as future lines of research.
Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 2, 2008
Keywords: Knowledge management; Oil industry; Gas industry
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