• Lee Porsgaard
The point of departure for this master’s thesis is Nonaka’s theory of organisational knowledge-creation. The purpose is to examine how this theory can be applied to the creation of new knowledge in companies which operate in the construction industry. The subject is chosen on the basis of an increasing interest for knowledge management and the industry’s current situation. According to several theorists the society is developing from being post-industrial to becoming a knowledge society where knowledge is the companies’ most valuable resource. Therefore, management of knowledge is of utmost interest. Since 2007, many employees have been laid off because of the financial crisis. Assuming that people equals knowledge, it can be deduced that many companies have lost a part of their resources as a result of the many layoffs. It is relevant to examine how these knowledge resources can be rebuild which leads to the main question in this master’s thesis:
• Concerning companies in the Danish construction industry, how can Nonaka’s theory of organisational knowledge-creation be operationalized in a way that it becomes applicable in the process of creating and spreading new knowledge which can be implemented into products, services and procedures with the purpose of creating greater competitiveness?
This question has been made based on a study and critique of Nonaka’s theory of organizational knowledge-creation. As mentioned above, the study and critique of the theory has been conducted on the basis of an interest for knowledge creation and the construction industry’s current situation where it has been necessary to lay off many employees. In this master’s thesis the theory is criticized for lacking concrete tools and methods to make it applicable in practice and not just in theory. Therefore, an analysis of the generic five phase model of the organizational knowledge-creation process is conducted for the purpose of creating a model which is applicable in practice. According to Nonaka, the generic five phase model incorporates the demands which according to the theory are necessary for creating knowledge.
According to the theory, there are two sorts of knowledge which are described as explicit and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is knowledge which can easily be expressed through words, numbers and pictures. This means that explicit knowledge can be transferred from one individual to another through for instance speech and documents. On the contrary, tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in every individual and is therefore difficult to transfer from one person to another. Furthermore, tacit knowledge constitutes the major part of humans’ total knowledge which makes it an important factor in the creation of new knowledge. According to the theory, knowledge is created when it is converted between tacit and explicit knowledge in four different conversion processes: Socialization, externalization, combination and internalization. These four processes are part of the SECI-model which is central in the theory. In order to create new knowledge, the generic five phase model presents five phases for converting knowledge in the four knowledge conversion processes. The statement of problem is answered through an operationalization of the generic five phase model.
The analysis constitutes the first step towards answering the statement of problem. At the end of the analysis a new five phase model is presented. The new five phase model is applicable in practice in the construction industry. By making parallels from each phase to well-known and thoroughly tested methods and tools which still converts knowledge in the four processes, the model is made. As it is pointed out in the statement of problem, to make the theory applicable in the industry it must be operationalized. This does not include a detailed procedure of how new knowledge is created. Where the theory before was universal, the theory is now made industry-specific and it is then up to the different companies to adjust the new five phase model to their own unique conditions.
In connection with making this master’s thesis, empirical data is collected from the collaboration between the companies Per Aarsleff A/S and Århus Vand A/S. After the analysis, the data is processed. It is examined how in practice knowledge is created in their collaboration compared to the theoretical creation of knowledge in the new five phase model. Among other things, it is found that elements from the new five phase model are already being used in their collaboration.
The master’s thesis is finished with a conclusion that summarizes the master’s thesis and answers the statement of problem.
Publication date12 Jan 2012
Number of pages105
ID: 58827642