A comparative analysis of cultural influences on knowledge management approaches in Western and Eastern corporations : a preliminary study

Liu, Nan (2000-12)

Thesis (MComm)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Knowledge is generally regarded as a new competitive business resource in the information age. The leveraging of this resource has therefore become a significant concern of knowledge management. Knowledge management is not culturally neutral, however, and there seem to be differences between Western and Eastern knowledge management practices. In order to address these differences and determine their cultural roots, a comparative analysis of the cultural influences on knowledge management approaches in Western and Eastern corporations is needed. To fulfil this objective, it was firstly necessary to clarify the basic concept of knowledge, knowledge management and some relevant cultural issues. Secondly, specific Western and Eastern corporations were chosen as case studies, and their knowledge management approaches were analysed. In a third step, a comparative analysis was done between Western knowledge and Eastern knowledge management practices. The culturally determining factors are presented. In the second part of the study, the relationship between knowledge management and cultural issues was discussed. Since knowledge management is still in its infancy, this means that a common language is being established. Although the importance of corporate culture has been recognised, national cultural influences on knowledge management practices still need considerable scholarly attention. In the third part of the study, three national cultures were chosen to represent the Western and Eastern cultures. America and Sweden represent Western culture, while Japan represents Eastern culture. Several corporations, including IBM, Skandia, Toshiba, Sharp, were presented as case studies and their knowledge management approaches were analysed, e.g. tacit knowledge management focus, explicit knowledge management focus, knowledge creation, knowledge reuse, internal acquirement of knowledge, external acquirement of knowledge, etc. Based on the analysis of the Western and Eastern corporations' knowledge management practices, a comparative analysis was conducted to identify the role that national culture plays in corporate knowledge management. In the last part of the study, the conclusions indicated that national cultures do influence knowledge managers in their choice or omission of certain approaches to knowledge management. Following from this conclusion, several future research suggestions were proffered.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kennis word oor die algemeen as 'n nuwe mededingende bron van die inligtingsera beskou. Die invloed van hierdie bron het dus 'n betekenisvolle aangeleentheid vir kennisbestuur geword. Kennisbestuur is egter nie kultureel-neutraal nie en daar is toenemende bewyse van verskille tussen Westerse en Oosterse kennisbestuurpraktyke. 'n Vergelykende analise van kultuurinvloede op die kennisbestuurbenaderings van Westerse en Oosterse ondernemings is nodig om hierdie verskille te bepaal en hul grondslae te ondersoek. Om aan hierdie doelstelling te voldoen was dit nodig om eers die basiese kennis- en kennisbestuurbegrippe en fundamentele kultuurdimensies te verklaar. Tweedens is spesifieke Westerse en Oosterse ondernemings gekies as gevallestudies en is hul onderskeie kennisbestuurbenaderings geanaliseer. Derdens is 'n vergelykende analise van Westerse en Oosterse kennisbestuurpraktyke gemaak. In die tweede gedeelte van hierdie studie word die verhouding tussen kennisbestuur en kulturele kwessies ontleed. Aangesien kennisbestuur nog in sy kinderskoene staan beteken dit dat 'n gemeenskaplike terminologie gebou moet word. Alhoewel die belangrikheid van korporatiewe kultuur al herken is, benodig die invloede van 'n nasionale kultuur op bestuurspraktyke nog aandag. In die derde gedeelte van hierdie studie word drie lande as die verteenwoordigers van Westerse en Oosterse kulture gekies. Amerika en Swede verteenwoordig Westerse kultuur, terwyl Japan Oosterse kultuur verteenwoordig. Verskeie ondernemings soos IBM, Skandia en Toshiba word as gevallestudies behandel en hul kennisbestuurbenaderings word geanaliseer, bv. onuitgesproke kennisbestuurfokus, eksplisiete kennisbestuurfokus, kennisskepping, kennisherverbruik, interne kennisverkryging en eksterne kennisverkryging. 'n Vergelykende analise, gebaseer op die onderskeie analises van Westerse en Oosterse kennisbestuurpraktyke, word gedoen om die rol van nasionale kultuur in korporatiewe kennisbestuur te identifiseer. Die bevindings, gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings van die studie toon dat kennisbestuurders wel deur hul nasionale kultuur beïnvloed word in hul keuse, al dan nie, van sekere benaderings tot kennisbestuur. Verskeie voorstelle vir toekomstige navorsing, afgelei van die gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings, word hierna voorgelê.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51558
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