Research: Knowledge sharing in high-tech industry
How to foster inter-organizational knowledge sharing on the Knowledge Sharing Centre-platform.
How can KSC support organizations in the high-tech industry to practice and participate in inter-organizational knowledge sharing on their knowledge sharing platform?
Student Dennis van Tuijl
Author: Dennis van Tuijl
Educational institution: TU/e
Content expert: dr. Josette M.P. Gevers (associate Professor and Co-Chair of the Human Performance Group at the department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences)
Internship company: ASML (with regard to – Knowledge Sharing Centre)
Company Counselor: Arno Sprengers (chairman KSC)
Graduated: November 23, 2021
Research: Knowledge sharing in high-tech industry
These days organizations are more interdependent on their supply chain. To improve business processes in the supply chain, it is necessary to engage in knowledge sharing with the entire sector. Yet, organizations in the supply chain are often very different in terms of size, business maturity, culture, etc. Therefore, this research investigates how organizations can attain inter-organizational knowledge sharing in a network.
Organizations expressed concerns with uncertainties regarding the direction, decision making, costs and actual benefits the platform. Yet, it has been found that, if cost of participation does not exceed certain limits, organizations mainly account for benefits and risks in their decisions to participate on the platform. Benefits organizations perceive are access to more in-depth knowledge, the possibility to expand and strengthen their relations, direct commercial value and standardization of definitions and terminology across the high-tech industry. Risks organizations associate with inter-organizational knowledge sharing the most are; providing competition with knowledge and thus losing market position, leakage of knowledge that is not meant to be shared and the risk that knowledge being shared on the platform is incorrect, obsolete or low quality. Some organizations also fear for job poaching or that they are not able to utilize knowledge available on the platform, because knowledge is too abstract or they lack the capacity. Organizations might not participate on the platform when they are expected to share intellectual property, costs are too high, there is no mutual knowledge exchange or they experience unfair sharing or opportunistic behavior.
All organizations agreed on the necessity of inter-organizational trust for knowledge sharing between organizations. While their importance varies, all factors for inter-organizational trust as identified in the theoretical framework are found to also determine trust on a network level. Factors that are considered most important for inter-organizational trust on the KSC-platform are transparent and reliable communication, avoidance of opportunistic behavior, independency and balance in power, equal knowledge competence and the implementation of mechanisms that ensure trust. Absorptive capacity however has not been mentioned nearly as often. Respondent expressed the platform is in a too early stage to discuss the absorption of knowledge from the platform, indicating that inter-organizational trust is more important in early stage of network-based knowledge sharing than absorptive capacity. Which is also evident from the focus on transparent and reliable communication, clarification of direction and expectations and aversion for opportunistic behavior when establishing trust.
Absorptive capacity is still considered essential for inter-organizational knowledge sharing on the platform. Organizations expect they have the ability or will be able to develop the ability to incorporate the knowledge shared by others on the platform. However, it is possible that risks associated with lack of absorptive capacity become more evident when more complex knowledge is shared. Organizations do wish knowledge on the platform is being curated in an accessible and manageable way by the KSC to avoid knowledge being too abstract or hard to interpret.
When looking at the results of the is study, the following three trend stand out: Uncertainties surrounding the platform, an open and trusted community of organizations and an accessible knowledge sharing platform. These three trends are identified as objective for the KSC to address. Several hands-on recommendations are provided towards KSC on how they can support organizations in the KSC-network to practice and participate in inter-organizational knowledge sharing on the KSC-platform.
The SECI model by (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) describes dimensions of a generic knowledge conversion process. By applying it on the KSC-platform, this model can provide insight into the conversion of knowledge between participants. Based on the results of this study, suggestions are made on how KSC can approach these dimensions to foster the knowledge sharing process between organizations participating on the platform. The following suggestions are made to KSC:
- Communicate the benefits of the platform to attract more participants to the platform;
- Communicate the future and direction of the platform through a roadmap, as well as the progress, changes and choices made in the process;
- Encourage transparent communication between organizations by initiating meetings where participants have to express their expectations, intentions and contributions towards the platform and other participants;
- Enhance empathy and cooperation between participants by letting organizations engage in each other’s problem-solving process. Which can motivate organizations to come up with new solutions or purposes for their knowledge or products;
- Promote joint decision making as a community to pursue exchange of equivalent knowledge competences and increase group cohesion;
- Propagate the importance of knowledge management and absorptive capacity;
- Provide support, guidance and education for internal knowledge management, external knowledge sharing and absorptive capacity;
- Curate the knowledge shared on the platform by combining new knowledge with existing knowledge competences;
- Showcase successful collaboration project which resulted from knowledge sharing between organizations, which can also serve to propagate benefits of the platform;
- As a curator, ensure knowledge on the platform is up to date, valid and sound;
- Manage participant behavior by policing unwanted behavior and pursuing equality and fair sharing on the platform.
↓ Participating organizations in this Research ↓
Here you can find the names of the interviewed persons within the indicated organizations. A summary of the interview will also be found here.