Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present, analyze and discuss the case of AT&S, Europe's largest and most technologically advanced producer of printed circuit boards and one of the most successful Austrian‐based global players.. Design/methodology/approach – The paper focuses on the company's strategy and its global integration, its structure in terms of decentralisation, its organizational culture, and how the corporate approach towards knowledge management and cross‐site knowledge transfer is attuned to these premises. The paper encoded nine qualitative, semi‐structured interviews with top managers of the Austrian headquarters and two subsidiaries in Asia according to a system of categories and integrated the results for three interviews per site to an assessment on unit level. Then the three units were again merged and combined to an analysis on the company level. Findings – Discussing the knowledge flows among the three sites and also the mechanisms of knowledge transfer across organizational and national borders at AT&S, the paper concludes that high‐tech companies do not need knowledge management to be successful. Research limitations/implications – Path dependencies of international case studies might reduce transferability of results to other industries or national cultures. Practical implications – A focus on centralized product development and a supportive management information system guarantees global leadership and the capturing of benefits from subsidiaries in different markets. Originality/value – This comprehensive case study shows that high‐tech companies do not necessarily require an elaborate knowledge management system, because the expertise transferred is built in the products.
Chinese Management Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 13, 2008
Keywords: Knowledge transfer; Knowledge management; Multinational companies; Organizational structures