A Design-Based Research into the establishment of a Center of Excellence (CoE) in a multinational manufacturing enterprise

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A Design-Based Research into the establishment of a Center of Excellence (CoE) in a multinational manufacturing enterprise

 

Author: Ko, Kam-chin
Title: A Design-Based Research into the establishment of a Center of Excellence (CoE) in a multinational manufacturing enterprise
Degree: Eng.D.
Year: 2010
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Knowledge management
Intellectual capital
Manufacturing industries -- Management
Department: Faculty of Engineering
Pages: 1 v. (various pagings) : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2360600
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/5958
Abstract: Knowledge has become one of the most important ingredients, and a primary driver, of competitive advantage. This dissertation explores how enterprises can create value by shifting their strategic focus from the management of tangible assets to the management of intangible assets by utilizing a Knowledge Management (KM) process. This process includes the creation of relevant knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge among its various stakeholders -such as employees, suppliers and customers. The development and accumulation of knowledge based assets form the Intellectual Capital (IC) of an organization. Intellectual Capital management and Knowledge Management are thus intimately related processes. However, there have been few studies linking KM and IC in a coherent manner or showing the extraction of value from these intangibles assets using IC management and the mechanism for their conversion by designing appropriate KM processes. The author of this thesis, as a practitioner in the manufacturing industry, designed and implemented a solution concept in the business process of his company. This was both an act of applied research and a solution to the practical issue of aligning the KM strategy to the business goals of his company. The thesis presents the design, implementation and evaluation of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) platform by utilizing Design-Based Research (DBR) methodology in a single case study in Johnson Electric Company. The investigation involved defining the field problem, exploration of the background through a literature review, theorizing conceptual frameworks for the design of a unique solution concept and identifying potential implementation and operational issues. Reflection was carried out after each implementation attempt in order to seek further enhancement of the solution for the next implementation. The background to the research problem is addressed. The literature on the different theories of competitive strategy, its relationship with Intellectual Capital (IC), the value creation process and the Knowledge Management (KM) process are reviewed . In this research, the value platform model of Edvinsson is adopted. The main research focus is on how to design a solution using some of the many concepts in KM practice to fit the enterprise's business process, to diagnose the practical problems, and then implement the solution in a reference company, and finally evaluate its success with regard to value creation. From the many possible activities and practices, the concept of building a "Centre of Excellence" (CoE) formulated based on the Community of Practice (CoP) principle was identified as a feasible business solution. This became the structural capital (SC) that links up all stakeholders in the business networks, such as employees, customers, suppliers or business partners.
The design of the CoE concept was implemented at Johnson Electric (JE), a multinational manufacturing enterprise. Utilizing JE as a reference site, three separate assessments were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution concept and reflect on the lessons learned during implementation, for the purpose of continuous enhancement. These assessments included an evaluation of the employee's experience using the CoE platform, a survey to understand the engineers' behavior when using the CoE platform for interaction and a review of the overall performance of the CoE platform. The CoE platform evolved from being used for the sharing of expertise to being used for the coordination of global enterprise knowledge across regional offices and for linking business partners, through the on-line CoE Portal and the Value Innovation Center (VIC). The effectiveness of the CoE platform has been confirmed by the theoretical underpinning, interviews with CoE users and by the longitudinal study. The CoE platform has been successfully established as a value creation model of Edvinsson by showing how the human capital of JE's employees can be converted into its structural capital, which in turn, generates relational capital for the enterprise. The CoE implemented in JE has also a close analogy with and supports Nonaka's SECI model in knowledge transfer, as described in the four categories of "Ba" principles of Nonaka theory in the creation of both a physical and a virtual space for the knowledge creation process. JE has transformed itself from being a conventional manufacturing enterprise, one which "sells" its products based on good design and operational excellence of production, into an enterprise that "sells" enterprise knowledge to its stakeholders. The Design-Based Research (DBR) approach has provided a deep understanding of how a CoE platform can be successfully developed and implemented in a multi-national manufacturing company. In this thesis, the emphasis is on the practicality of the solution and its impact on the business outcome. The experience thus gained provides a valuable reference for the adoption of the solution concept of the "CoE" platform by other enterprises that may be facing similar business challenges.

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