According to Nonaka , new knowledge always originates in people. These including socialization - SOC including dialogue among employees , externalization - EXT writing down procedures in the form of standard operating procedures, internalization - INT entailing the study of standard operating procedures , and combination to summarise the available information or records into procedures or standard operating procedure - SOP to facilitate the work. However, the knowledge combination process is considered as the responsibility of supporting administration and not applicable at the shop floor.
A key work-related factor with an impact on knowledge sharing is the organizational structure - STR. This entails the formal organization of people, material resources and time required for the activities of the working group in order to produce improvements. It is understood as the specification of roles and responsibilities assigned to different persons in a group context comprising operators, supporters and their direct supervision. It also helps specify the availability of material resources such as equipment, machinery and devices and time, which can be used, in part, for the members of the group to meet, solve problems and discuss goals.
Communication - COM appears in the literature as a second key work-related factor with strong relevance to knowledge sharing. It refers to the process in which ideas and feelings are transmitted from person to person, from person to group or from group to group, making it possible for the social interaction to support knowledge sharing. Internal communication comprises the personal relationships between the group members, collaboration and learning, as well as the conduct of the decision-making process, which involves specific actions undertaken to solve a given problem.
External communication connotes the support obtained from other groups in order to share improvements, solve problems and align actions.
Therefore, interpersonal trust has been highlighted as a key determinant of employee preparedness to engage in knowledge sharing Mooradian et al. Training - TRN, encompasses the action provided for conducting production activities by ensuring that the members of the group develop the ability to use tools and techniques to assist them in improving their work and performing different jobs. It also seeks to create flexibility for the members to conduct new tasks without breaking their normal work routines Wong, Various training programmes are to be integrated into a wider formalized orientation and socialization programme for new employees, as such socialization programmes further enhance common understanding and closer interpersonal ties Fernie et al.
They also argue that collective reward i. While the contribution of explicit knowledge to databases is relatively easily measurable, the sharing of tacit knowledge e. In this context, a reward system that encourages such behaviours would have to be one which creates trust between workers and their employers and this can indirectly be achieved through reward systems.
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Within the production dimension, problem solving methods PSM , identify a sequence of steps to perform the necessary analysis problems encountered and to solve the undesirable results. Knowledge sharing in production systems also faces some significant barriers, such as lack of management commitment and trust among people, lack of resources, interpersonal conflicts, underestimation of the knowledge contributions from lower levels, threats to self-image, lack of understanding of the organization's processes, ambiguous communication or terminology used, dysfunctional group dynamics e.
Models that promote the integration of people, knowledge and production dimensions normally observe tacit and explicit knowledge conversion modes, and they are important in guiding formal procedures to support shop floor knowledge sharing activities. But the conversion process between tacit and explicit knowledge to achieve organizational results is not well specified in the theory Gourlay, Summarizing, the need of managing all these enabling factors and integrating them into the knowledge K , production P and work W dimensions at the same time appears as a major challenge for knowledge sharing in production contexts.
For example, operators receive training in problem-solving methods PSM , which is supported by day-to-day operations deployed in the form of standard operating procedures SOP to prevent undesirable outcomes to relapse. This is also a good opportunity for promoting Socialization among the workers involved and the subsequent internalization of this learning process.
This example highlights the interplay between factors related to knowledge management, work and production-related factors.
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Given the multiplicity of potential enabling factors that affect knowledge sharing among blue-collar workers, it is imperative to understand and establish their inter-relationships Lin et al. Although previous studies have identified the key conceptual dimensions and various underlying factors that enable knowledge sharing among blue-collar workers in a production context Muniz Junior et al.
The following section will provide a brief review on knowledge sharing in emerging markets with a specific reference to Brazil and China. As organizational culture is influenced by national culture, we need to consider relevant cultural frameworks which may help us understand our context. Employees tend to rely more on the context of non-verbal actions and the environmental setting to convey meaning, and therefore tend to prefer communication media with high media-richness, such as face-to-face communication or phone calls Ardichvili et al.
Therefore, China remains a challenging setting for encouraging knowledge sharing amongst the workforce Chen et al. Due to their seemingly low trust towards outsiders and a fear of potential loss of individual gains Ding et al. The same would be expected in Brazil, however, a comparative study on knowledge sharing in plants in Brazil, China and Russia, found that Brazilian employees are the most enthusiastic about sharing information with others in their organization Ardichvili et al.
Deference to hierarchy creates another cultural specific barrier for knowledge sharing. No less so in China Hong et al. This may limit opportunities for constructive debates and reflexive thinking that are crucial for knowledge sharing. The Ardichvili et al. Most employees feel rather comfortable asking questions and contributions to discussions in public, as long as these interactions contribute to improved job performance.
Brazilian employees seem to be willing to ask questions more often, without much concern for being perceived boastful or immodest. Employees perceived knowledge sharing as enhancing their prospects of future job promotions. Third, the role of face, or mianzi, and the importance of face-saving for Chinese Buckley et al. Especially for those with higher hierarchical position, fear of losing their social standing and authority in front of their peers or subordinates might undermine their willingness to raise request for knowledge sharing McAdam et al.
The methodology for our study consisted of two main steps. In the first step, we conducted a comprehensive literature review on knowledge sharing based on the published studies from ISI Web of Science, which updated the literature review of Muniz Junior et al. After the literature review, we identified a number of key enabling factors of knowledge sharing in production contexts See Table 1 , which are used as different assessment criteria by the production managers.
In the second step, we focused on the Brazilian and Chinese automotive industry in our fieldwork.
We conducted our fieldwork at three Brazilian and two Chinese automotive plants Our automotive plants samples covered the main processes, such as car and engine assemblers, part-makers and suppliers. The wide coverage of sampling allowed us to generate a landscape of knowledge sharing practices among the workers.
The plants profiles are detailed in Table 2. Brazil has over 26 vehicles assemblers plants Associacao Nacional dos Fabricantes de Veiculos Automotores, , while China has over 70 production plants.
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Apart from the main disadvantage that convenience sample can lead to either under-representation or over-representation of particular group, this sampling choice provides significant help in gathering useful data and information that would not have been possible using probability sampling techniques. These procedures included follow-ups with survey respondents to verify whether our interpretations of the results are correct. The questionnaire was developed, translated and back-translated by both authors who are native speakers in Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese Mandarin language.
We followed some predetermined criteria to select the interviewee samples in both countries. These included that interviewees should have 1 at least 5 years production experience, 2 a broad range of technical expertise and 3 at least rudimentary managerial responsibilities related to shopfloor e. Our objective was to ensure that they should have a sufficient understanding about the knowledge, production and work related factors for answering the questionnaires. Potentially significant knowledge sharing factors were selected based on a systematic literature review that started in Muniz Junior et al.
Items for the AHP were developed and validated in researches Nascimento et al. Overall, feedback from respondents indicates that we provided sufficient coverage of all factors, and that no additional factors beyond those in our study were deemed relevant to knowledge sharing. We also used interviews to seek feedback on issues around design, layout and structure of the survey, as well as the clarity of the response options provided.
No refinement to the survey would be necessary based on the respondent feedback. The relative comparison of several factors is a complex decision problem, which involves a mix of qualitative and quantitative judgment from those familiar with the issue. It is not easy to express some of these factors in measurable units and difficult to structure the evaluation criteria into an analytical framework to facilitate an understanding of the research phenomenon.
AHP, as a multi-criteria decision method, decomposes complex decision-making problems i. Each hierarchical level represents a set of attributes or alternatives related to each sub-problem. The top level of the entire hierarchy represents the goal of the problem, which in the presented study, is better knowledge sharing among blue collar workers.
An important step for the AHP method is the structuring of the decision problem into hierarchical levels and the construction of a model that relates the factors in terms of their priorities. In this step the overall objective, the criteria and the alternatives are identified. Next, the judgments issued by people involved with the decision in question are collected.
Finally, we considered different alternative tools to reach the means of better knowledge sharing, some of which included alternatives including formal communication channels, the forging of informal personal relationships etc — see Appendix A. Thus, for this research, the AHP structure is defined by goals i.
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