Is Knowledge Management Vital for Competitive Advantage, Inno ...

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The issue of knowledge management (KM) as a source of business success has engaged the business community ever since knowledge was identified as an asset to business. Being an asset, the corollary of this view is that knowledge should be deliberately planned, created, managed, safeguarded, and made available through a KM department or KM manager to increase competitive advantage, innovation, and company success. However, there are already many innovative and successful organizations with complex products which do not follow the KM path and hence contradict this view. So how can they be successful, or is there a new way to manage knowledge? To answer this question, a case study was conducted in a successful company with knowledge-intensive products. An innovative analytical method was used to uncover the hidden nature of this phenomenon, which involves knowledge, a complex concept. Data gathered from thirty-two interviews and several days of observation were analyzed with a hermeneutic-phenomenology approach rooted in Gadamer’s philosophy of understanding and the interpretation process of Alvesson and Sködlberg, as well as Max van Manen. Through extensive reflection and discussion of the findings, new insights, information, and experiences were added until the hidden phenomenon became apparent. In this way, signifying relations were found and synthesized into five general patterns. They are the important building blocks for a non-deliberate approach to creating and managing knowledge (NDKM). Consequently, the theory of this research provides a new and comprehensive picture for managers and experts of how to build an organization to trigger a culture that sustainably creates and manages knowledge at all levels and in all departments of an organization, without going in for a KM department or KM manager.