The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation

Oxford University Press
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How have Japanese companies become world leaders in the automotive and electronics industries, among others? What is the secret of their success? Two leading Japanese business experts, Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, are the first to tie the success of Japanese companies to their ability to create new knowledge and use it to produce successful products and technologies. In The Knowledge-Creating Company, Nonaka and Takeuchi provide an inside look at how Japanese companies go about creating this new knowledge organizationally. The authors point out that there are two types of knowledge: explicit knowledge, contained in manuals and procedures, and tacit knowledge, learned only by experience, and communicated only indirectly, through metaphor and analogy. U.S. managers focus on explicit knowledge. The Japanese, on the other hand, focus on tacit knowledge. And this, the authors argue, is the key to their success--the Japanese have learned how to transform tacit into explicit knowledge. To explain how this is done--and illuminate Japanese business practices as they do so--the authors range from Greek philosophy to Zen Buddhism, from classical economists to modern management gurus, illustrating the theory of organizational knowledge creation with case studies drawn from such firms as Honda, Canon, Matsushita, NEC, Nissan, 3M, GE, and even the U.S. Marines. For instance, using Matsushita's development of the Home Bakery (the world's first fully automated bread-baking machine for home use), they show how tacit knowledge can be converted to explicit knowledge: when the designers couldn't perfect the dough kneading mechanism, a software programmer apprenticed herself with the master baker at Osaka International Hotel, gained a tacit understanding of kneading, and then conveyed this information to the engineers. In addition, the authors show that, to create knowledge, the best management style is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but rather what they call "middle-up-down," in which the middle managers form a bridge between the ideals of top management and the chaotic realities of the frontline. As we make the turn into the 21st century, a new society is emerging. Peter Drucker calls it the "knowledge society," one that is drastically different from the "industrial society," and one in which acquiring and applying knowledge will become key competitive factors. Nonaka and Takeuchi go a step further, arguing that creating knowledge will become the key to sustaining a competitive advantage in the future. Because the competitive environment and customer preferences changes constantly, knowledge perishes quickly. With The Knowledge-Creating Company, managers have at their fingertips years of insight from Japanese firms that reveal how to create knowledge continuously, and how to exploit it to make successful new products, services, and systems.
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About the author

Ikujiro Nonaka is a Professor in School of Knowledge Science at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Hirotaka Takeuchi is a Professor of Management at the Institute of Business Research, Hitosubashi University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
May 18, 1995
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780199879922
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / International / General
Business & Economics / Knowledge Capital
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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When The Knowledge-Creating Company (OUP; nearly 40,000 copies sold) appeared, it was hailed as a landmark work in the field of knowledge management. Now, Enabling Knowledge Creation ventures even further into this all-important territory, showing how firms can generate and nurture ideas by using the concepts introduced in the first book. Weaving together lessons from such international leaders as Siemens, Unilever, Skandia, and Sony, along with their own first-hand consulting experiences, the authors introduce knowledge enabling--the overall set of organizational activities that promote knowledge creation--and demonstrate its power to transform an organization's knowledge into value-creating actions. They describe the five key "knowledge enablers" and outline what it takes to instill a knowledge vision, manage conversations, mobilize knowledge activists, create the right context for knowledge creation, and globalize local knowledge. The authors stress that knowledge creation must be more than the exclusive purview of one individual--or designated "knowledge" officer. Indeed, it demands new roles and responsibilities for everyone in the organization--from the elite in the executive suite to the frontline workers on the shop floor. Whether an activist, a caring expert, or a corporate epistemologist who focuses on the theory of knowledge itself, everyone in an organization has a vital role to play in making "care" an integral part of the everyday experience; in supporting, nurturing, and encouraging microcommunities of innovation and fun; and in creating a shared space where knowledge is created, exchanged, and used for sustained, competitive advantage. This much-anticipated sequel puts practical tools into the hands of managers and executives who are struggling to unleash the power of knowledge in their organization.
When The Knowledge-Creating Company (OUP; nearly 40,000 copies sold) appeared, it was hailed as a landmark work in the field of knowledge management. Now, Enabling Knowledge Creation ventures even further into this all-important territory, showing how firms can generate and nurture ideas by using the concepts introduced in the first book. Weaving together lessons from such international leaders as Siemens, Unilever, Skandia, and Sony, along with their own first-hand consulting experiences, the authors introduce knowledge enabling--the overall set of organizational activities that promote knowledge creation--and demonstrate its power to transform an organization's knowledge into value-creating actions. They describe the five key "knowledge enablers" and outline what it takes to instill a knowledge vision, manage conversations, mobilize knowledge activists, create the right context for knowledge creation, and globalize local knowledge. The authors stress that knowledge creation must be more than the exclusive purview of one individual--or designated "knowledge" officer. Indeed, it demands new roles and responsibilities for everyone in the organization--from the elite in the executive suite to the frontline workers on the shop floor. Whether an activist, a caring expert, or a corporate epistemologist who focuses on the theory of knowledge itself, everyone in an organization has a vital role to play in making "care" an integral part of the everyday experience; in supporting, nurturing, and encouraging microcommunities of innovation and fun; and in creating a shared space where knowledge is created, exchanged, and used for sustained, competitive advantage. This much-anticipated sequel puts practical tools into the hands of managers and executives who are struggling to unleash the power of knowledge in their organization.
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