Academic journal article Business Management and Strategy

Knowledge Management Enablers, Knowledge Creation Process and Innovation Performance: An Empirical Study in Tunisian Information and Communication Technologies Sector

Academic journal article Business Management and Strategy

Knowledge Management Enablers, Knowledge Creation Process and Innovation Performance: An Empirical Study in Tunisian Information and Communication Technologies Sector

Article excerpt

Abstract

In today's complex and dynamic environment, survival and competitiveness of companies are based on their capacity to continuously create and use new knowledge. In this perspective, this paper focuses on the enabling factors that boost Knowledge Creation Process (KCP) within organizations. On the basis of previous studies, this research examines the most important factors that have been recognized to be critical for KCP: collaboration, trust, learning, incentives and rewards, decentralized and low formalized structure, T-shaped skills and information technology (IT) support and transformational leadership. The purpose of this paper is also to examine the relationship between KCP and innovation performance. Conceptually, we develop a research model highlighting the relationship between all these variables. This model was tested using structural equation modeling within Tunisian ICT sector. Based on a survey of 202 companies, results reveal that the best path for Tunisian ICT companies to foster knowledge creation is through incentives and rewards, collaboration, trust, learning, decentralized and low formalized structure and IT support. Findings show also that KCP significantly affects firms' innovation performance.

Keywords: Knowledge Creation Process, Knowledge Creation Enablers, Innovation performance

1. Introduction

Nowadays, in an increasingly complex and turbulent environment, companies should explore new ways in order to survive and improve their competitiveness. Innovation is therefore a strategic factor enabling them to stand out from the competition. In this perspective, the innovative capacity of companies is based on their ability to accumulate knowledge from internal and external sources. Indeed, as highlighted by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), in today's knowledge economy, "organizational knowledge creation is the key to the distinctive ways that companies innovate". The same idea was advocated by Wang and Wang (2012) who claimed that explicit and tacit knowledge sharing is positively linked to innovation speed and quality. Garcia-Morales et al. (2008) suggested also that innovation is the result of combination of existing knowledge and generation of new knowledge. Cantner et al. (2011) highlighted the importance of knowledge management in companies' innovative success. Companies must therefore integrate knowledge management as a strategic process whose main objective is to make good use of knowledge as a source of innovation.

Many studies have focused on the topic of knowledge management and its relation with innovation. In particular, through empirical investigations conducted in Japanese companies, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) discovered that firms' innovative capacity is the outcome of a dynamic knowledge creation process (KCP). By studying the KCP and innovation projects of these companies, they conceptualized a generic model called SECI, which describe how companies create knowledge. This model is structured by four basic modes of knowledge creation (socialization, externalization, combination and internalization). In the perspective of this research, we have hence chosen to focus on Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995)'s knowledge creation approach, as the pillar on which is based the conceptual arguments related to knowledge management.

Many researchers have emphasized the importance of KCP, and in particular the dimensions of the SECI model, in improving firm's innovative capacity (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Popadiuk and Choo, 2006; Ramírez and Kumpikaite, 2012; Sankowska, 2013). Despite this important literature on KCP and innovation, the relationship between these two concepts is still controversial. In particular, Schulze and Hoegl (2008) pointed out that two dimensions of the model SECI, especially externalization and combination, do not contribute to generation of new product idea. In addition, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995)'s model has the particularity of having been conceptualized in the context of industrial Japanese companies characterized by a culture of knowledge sharing (Glisby and Holden, 2003). …

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