A study of design knowledge for a multi-national motor manufacturing company

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A study of design knowledge for a multi-national motor manufacturing company

 

Author: Kwok, Shing-lok
Title: A study of design knowledge for a multi-national motor manufacturing company
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2005
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Knowledge management
Organizational learning
Automobiles -- Design and construction
Department: Dept. of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Pages: vi, 114 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1809990
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/1943
Abstract: Over the past years, knowledge management has attracted a lot of research interest. More and more companies anticipate the importance of KM for leveraging the intellectual capital of an organization. Knowledge Management (KM) encapsulates processes and techniques for the creation, collection, indexing, organization, distribution, and evaluation of institutional knowledge for re-user. KM in its wider interpretation, encompasses key theories and techniques from many diversified areas such as information retrieval, business systems and enterprise engineering, organizational learning, change and innovation management. Usually, personal or private data/information is stored in personal computer with the highest level of security and precautions to avoid upward contamination, or it is stored separately or desperately. This leads to a lot of challenging issues such as duplication of work, ambiguity and inconsistency that obstruct effective knowledge management. Moreover, a lot of knowledge in many organization is found not well organized, acquired and diffused properly. To achieve a successful KM, a knowledge audit is vital, and this could only be achieved with sufficient support and appropriate knowledge culture in an organization. In this project, Johnson Electric Holding Limited (JE), a motor manufacturer in Hong Kong, is used as the reference site for the study. JE is a Hong Kong based multinational company which is working with different operational system; some of the overseas offices are even operating without system. JE has been engaging in a number of KM projects. Managing motor design knowledge through the Component Architecture Technology Database (CATD) is identified as one of the strategic areas of knowledge management in JE. CATD is a knowledge management system for capturing the motor design and testing knowledge. It can provide a framework for direct current motor to perform performance curves. It can be enhanced to analyse the existing data for design development as well as to facilitate knowledge sharing and generating new knowledge. In order to have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the CATD in achieving the KM initiative, a KM audit for the CATD is much needed to be conducted. KM audit is a tool to analyze knowledge that employees should have to perform job efficiently; how efficiently they are able to access their needed information and knowledge; and how this information and knowledge is delivered to them. Some people view the knowledge audit as being the business needs assessment, cultural assessment, and an examination of what knowledge is needed, available, missing, applied, and contained. By discovering what knowledge should be possessed, it is possible to find the most effective method of storage and dissemination. It can then be used as the basis for evaluating the extent to which change needs to be introduced to the company. As there are different locations, knowledge audit can provide a gap analysis due to culture environment in the targeted area. The present study focuses on the assessment of the business and cultural needs. The main purpose of the knowledge audit is to help the department to determine what it knows, who knows what, what it does not know, what it needs to know and how it should go about improving the management of its existing knowledge. It can bring high visibility to the organizations knowledge assets. It can also access the efficiency and effectiveness of corporate, departmental and process-driven knowledge lifecycles. JE can therefore better leverage knowledge for business and competitive advantage. On the other hand, the knowledge audit can seek to give qualified insight as to whether the company is ready to become a knowledge-based or knowledge-centred. For the purpose of the KM audit, suitable methodology, questionnaire, survey, knowledge assets and mapping, have been developed. Besides, a multi-location survey has been carried out to study the KM culture for different offices of JE in different geographic locations such as USA and Italy. Based on the results of the knowledge audit, recommendations are made to management regarding the status and possible improvements to the KM strategy in managing the motor design knowledge. Remedial measures were also developed to address the system and human issues. These measures aimed at enhancing the system and gaining people's trust. To gain people's trust, training and promotion were suggested to enable people to have a better awareness of the KM system. This could also motivate them tot use the KM system as a trial. So both system and people factors are important to the success of KM. The results of the study shown that the knowledge gaps and problems found in JE are common KM challenges. In summary, to make KM a success in an organization, all factors related to people, technology, processes and culture are involved. The knowledge audit methodology developed and demonstrated in the present study is found to be useful and effective for helping JE to draw up a KM strategy for managing the knowledge in the motor design processes.

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