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An explorative study of knowledge transfer processes in new product development in the automotive industry

This research builds on three projects that aim to investigate how knowledge transfer takes
place in new product development in the automotive industry. The study seeks to picture how
product development teams frame and shape new product knowledge, how they interpret such
knowledge, and how they apply knowledge to the product development process.
From that perspective, product development activities can be seen as transactions that are
integrated into an overall system of identifying, assessing, collecting and combining
Results of my research so far reveal that there are many factors that affect the successful
management of knowledge transfer in new product development projects. Based on my first
two projects, using the case study approach, it is evident that for successful knowledge
transfer to occur, there is a need to distinguish between design knowledge that is embedded in
the tacit knowledge domain and that embedded in the or explicit design knowledge domain.
The results of project three, using a survey questionnaire approach, provide a powerful
demonstration, that knowledge integration, combination and creation in product development
need intensive interaction and collaboration.
The enormous importance of interaction and collaboration to integrate and combine
knowledge has its origin in the nature of design knowledge. For example engineers produced
in the survey a 82 % rate of agreement with the statement that they use mainly knowledge that
comes from their past work experience as product developers, in order to solve complex
design tasks. The underlying assumption of this finding is, that engineers are therefore mostly
forced to transfer tacit design knowledge to solve complex design tasks.
The research showed that a remarkable under-performance exists in knowledge
identification and knowledge articulation in new product development in the automotive
industry. In vehicle development, non-routine tasks are highly complex. This requires team
members to have an understanding of the complete product system architecture.
To create such an understanding, engineers need to identify and articulate knowledge.
These activities can be seen as a pre-knowledge creation. The result is a shared product knowledge base, which makes it possible for people engaged in the vehicle development
process to use different kinds of knowledge to capture and link new technologies into
innovative products. This may require a cultural shift by vehicle manufacturers in terms of
how they steer and allocate resources to future vehicle development programmes.
Building on four years engagement with knowledge transfer research, I conclude that
organisations in the automotive sector still rely on methods and processes that were
successful in the past and strictly directed at exploiting tangible assets. To integrate preknowledge
creation, as a new found discipline in product development projects creates an
enormous potential to integrate and combine knowledge in an efficient way for future product
development projects.

Date11 1900
CreatorsEngel, Rupert
ContributorsHarrison, Alan
PublisherCranfield University, School of Management
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis or dissertation, Doctoral, DBA
Format1883 bytes, 3914069 bytes, text/plain, application/pdf

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