Transferring knowledge of manufacturing techniques in multinational corporations:preliminary findings

Alias, Jamsari; Bennett, David and Hall, Matthew (2008). Transferring knowledge of manufacturing techniques in multinational corporations:preliminary findings. IN: The Third European Conference on Management of Technology. Jolly, D. (ed.) IBIMA.

Abstract

With the growth of the multinational corporation (MNC) has come the need to understand how parent companies transfer knowledge to, and manage the operations of, their subsidiaries. This is of particular interest to manufacturing companies transferring their operations overseas. Japanese companies in particular have been pioneering in this regard, with techniques such as the Toyota Production System (TPS) for transferring the ethos of Japanese manufacturing and maintaining quality and control in overseas subsidiaries. A great deal has been written about the process of transferring Japanese manufacturing techniques, but much less is understood about how the subsidiaries themselves, which are required to make use of such techniques, actually acquire and incorporate them into their operations. The research on which this paper is based therefore examines how, from the perspective of the subsidiary, knowledge of manufacturing techniques is transferred from the parent company. There is clearly a need to take a practice-based view to understanding how the local managers and operatives incorporate knowledge about manufacturing techniques into their working practices. In-depth qualitative research was, therefore, conducted in the subsidiary of a Japanese multinational, Denso Corporation, involving three main manufacturing initiatives (or philosophies), namely ‘TPS’, ‘TPM’ and ‘TS’. The case data were derived from 52 in-depth interviews with project members, moderate participant observations, and documentations. The aim of this paper is to present the preliminary findings from the case analyses. The research contributes to our understanding of knowledge transfer in relation to the circumstances of the selection between adaptation and replication of knowledge in the subsidiary from its parent. In particular this understanding relates to transfer across different flows and levels in the organisational hierarchy, how the whole process is managed, and also how modification takes place.

Divisions: Aston Business School > Operations & information management
Aston Business School > Operations & information management research group
Event Title: 3rd European Conference on Management of Technology
Event Type: Other
Event Dates: 2008-09-17 - 2008-09-19
Uncontrolled Keywords: knowledge transfer,subsidiary in MNC,in-depth practice-based view
Published Date: 2008

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