||Building a Taxonomy of Firm’s Knowledge Assets: a Perspective of Durability and Profitability
||Institute of Information Management
Knowledge assets are recently recognized as a critical source of firm competitive advantage, especially for knowledge-intensive firms. Consequently, effectively managing the knowledge assets is an imperative issue for most firms in pursuit of competitive advantage in the knowledge-based economy. Due to the complexity nature of knowledge assets, in order to facilitate a knowledge management initiative, we suggest that firm has to firstly select an appropriate categorization tool to audit and classify the existing knowledge assets to understand the roles that they play, and suitable management policies can be developed. Previous researchers have proposed a number of valuable categorizations for classifying a firm’s knowledge assets, but, in our opinion, these are almost always ‘static’ in nature since once categorized as a particular type, knowledge assets’ categories do not change type over time. However, business contexts are swiftly changing, and knowledge assets may have to be constantly adapted to play new roles, and so a proper categorization, capable of reflecting the changing relations between knowledge assets and environmental conditions is greatly needed.
In other words, present categorizations in the literature can only tell ones what a knowledge asset is as well as where this asset locates, whereas they can not provide important insights like how an asset influence a firm’s strategy. Particularly, in rapidly changing contexts, it is believed that to precisely recognize the unceasingly changing influence of knowledge assets on firm strategy is crucial. On recognizing that extant categorizations can do less in linking the knowledge management and firm’s strategy, the main objective of this research is to develop a novel taxonomy that is able to reflect the changing relations between knowledge assets and the changing context. Then, the characteristics of the proposed taxonomy are successively developed.
Based on the research objectives, this research is possessed of exploratory and qualitative nature. This research framework encompasses five phases. In phase I study, through comprehensively reviewing the literature, two basic dimensions – durability and profitability - are derived to construct the taxonomy which classifies a firm’s knowledge assets into four types: core knowledge assets, dynamic knowledge assets, supportive knowledge assets and low-value knowledge assets. In phase II study, we review a breadth of literature before exploring several characteristics. In addition, two case studies are conducted for elaborating and extending these characteristics, and finally, we present such characteristics by proposing several propositions. In phase III study, we attempt to carry on a quantitative test for the developed propositions. A questionnaire based on the developed propositions is firstly designed. Based on results from a survey of 85 firms in Taiwan, the developed propositions are then tested with Z-test. In phase IV study, a dynamic model to show the moving paths (i.e. type transformation) of knowledge assets is developed. This model intends to find out all potential moving paths which individually stem from the changes of two dimensions of the taxonomy first, and then to retrench and show them by propositions. The R&D department in a chemical company was used as a case study to demonstrate the practicability of this model. The final phase is the application of the developed dynamic model. Executives of R&D department of an automobile parts company are interviewed in depth and the evidences about the type transformations of knowledge assets in accordance with the changing of durability and profitability are collected. Then, we describe such evidences by the developed dynamic model. This research provides an effective taxonomy which can reflect the dynamic relationships between firm knowledge assets and the environment, and then hopefully can be served as an essential reference to both researchers and practitioners.
Chapter 1.Introduction 1
1.1Research Background and Motivation 1
1.2Theoretical Foundation 1
1.3Research Purposes 2
1.4Research Processes 3
1.5Organization of the Dissertation 5
Chapter 2.Literature Review 6
2.1Main Perspectives for Obtaining Competitive Advantage 6
2.1.1Industrial Organization View 6
2.1.2Resource-Based View 6
2.1.3Knowledge-Based View 9
2.1.4Dynamic Capabilities 11
2.2Knowledge as Assets 14
2.3How Existing Studies Categorize Knowledge Assets 15
Chapter 3.Methodology 18
3.1Research Framework 18
3.2Research Design Techniques 19
3.2.1Literature Search 20
3.2.2Case Study 20
3.2.3Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods 22
3.3Research Design and Data Collection Method 23
3.3.1Phase I study 23
3.3.2Phase II study 23
3.3.3Phase III study 24
3.3.4Phase IV study 24
3.3.5Phase V study 24
Chapter 4.Phase I Study -- Developing a Taxonomy 26
4.1Classification Dimensions 26
4.2Four Types of Knowledge Assets 27
4.2.1Core knowledge assets 27
4.2.2Dynamic knowledge assets 29
4.2.3Supportive knowledge assets 30
4.2.4Low-value knowledge assets 31
Chapter 5.Phase II Study – Developing the Propositions 33
5.1Research Method 33
5.2Case Studies 34
5.2.1Case 1: R&D department in company A 34
5.2.2Case 2: R&D department in company B 36
5.3Findings for Phase II Study 38
Chapter 6.Phase III Study -- Testing the Propositions 45
6.1Research Method 45
6.1.1Questionnaire design 45
6.1.2Data collection 45
6.2Data Analysis and Results 46
Chapter 7.Phase IV Study -- Developing a Dynamic Model 52
7.1A Dynamic Model 52
7.1.1Path A 52
7.1.2Path B 54
7.1.3Path C 55
7.2Case Study 57
7.3Discussion for phase IV study 60
Chapter 8.Phase V Study -- Applying the Dynamic Model 62
8.1Knowledge Assets in R&D Department 62
8.2Case Study 66
8.3Discussion for phase V study 69
Chapter 9.Conclusions 73
9.2.1Research implications 74
9.2.2Empirical implications 76
9.4Future Research 80
Appendix A 93
Appendix B 94
Research Outcomes 96
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