Towards a network-based knowledge culture: An exploratory case study of cross-functional integration in new product development teams
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Background: The reason for conducting this master thesis within the field of knowledge management derived from the realization that there was a need for an increased understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics of the integration and transfer of knowledge in cross-functional new product development projects. Research advocates that organizations with organic project-based environments with fluid team boundaries may aggravate routine-based work and organizational memory, which in turn may lead to an organizations’ inability of capturing and storing existing personalized knowledge for internal storage and future transfer (Koskinen, 2004). For this reason, the conversion of knowledge for re-use between and within projects in an organization is not supported in a natural way (Lindner and Wald, 2011). To this end, organizational culture is critically important in facilitating a knowledge transfer culture within an organization that supports such knowledge conversion processes (Davenport and Prusak, 1998a). Thus, an increased understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics of knowledge integration and transfer in cross-functional projects is viewed as an opportunity to contribute with findings with interest in both industry and academia. Increasing the understanding of organizational culture’s role in knowledge conversion facilitation is particularly seen as an important research area in existing knowledge management research. The study aimed to produce a deeper understanding of these social processes by exploring and interpreting them in their real-life social contexts.
Research question: How does organizational culture and knowledge management strategies support as well as hinder knowledge integration and transfer between cross-functional product development teams and specialists in a project-based organization?
Purpose: To increase the understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics of knowledge integration and transfer in cross-functional projects. In order to study the socio-cultural elements, a case study in a global Swedish company engaged in new product development was conducted during the spring of 2016.
Method: The research design of the study was case study. The empirical data was collected through face-to-face interviews, observations and studying of internal steering documentations. The author found it necessary to adopt an interpretivist epistemological position with a qualitative focus in alignment with employing abductive reasoning in order to understand the collected data and to explore the posed research question. Quality measures with respect to qualitative research studies were cautiously considered.
Conclusion: This study found that an organization with a network-based knowledge culture and a standardized process with standards and routines for effective knowledge conversion processes are two sides of the same coin that can support the knowledge integration and transfer between cross-functional product development teams and specialists in a project-based organization. Further, both a single dominant organizational culture and multiple local cultures within an organization can both support and hinder the integration and transfer of knowledge. In extension to this finding, inconsistencies in the knowledge integration and transfer processes may evolve across these different cultural interpretations which may further support or hinder the social dynamics in an organization. Moreover, my study suggests that a network-based knowledge culture can interact with a standardized process in order to enable effective knowledge integration and transfer routines.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 119 p.
Network-based knowledge culture, cross-functional projects, knowledge management, organizational culture, new product development
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-55725OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-55725DiVA: diva2:954935
Subject / course
Business Administration - Other
Innovation through Business, Engineering and Design - Specialisation Business, Master Programme, 120 credits
2016-06-01, Växjö, 10:00 (English)
Olaison, Lena, Postdoktor
Taalas, Saara, Professor