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Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

Author(s): Andrew C. Inkpen and Adva Dinur

Source: Organization Science, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Jul. - Aug., 1998), pp. 454-468
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640272
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Knowledge Management Processes and
International Joint Ventures

Andrew C. Inkpen * Adva Dinur

Thunderbird,The American Graduate School of International Management, Glendale, Arizona 85306
School of Business and Management, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122

nowledge creationis now recognizedas a key, competitiveadvantage.In the global economy,

nternationaljoint venturesare increasinglyimportantas the way of creatingknowledgeinteror-
ganizationally.Yet, researchinto interorganizational
knowledgecreationhas beenunderdeveloped. This
paperoffers insights abouthow internationaljoint venturescan be integratedinto a firm's dynamic
systemof knowledgecreation.

Abstract Althoughall of the knowledgemanagementprocessesare

The management and processing of organizational knowledge potentiallyeffective, the differentprocessesinvolve different
are increasingly being viewed as critical to organizational suc- typesof knowledgeanddifferentorganizational levels. Thepri-
cess. By exploring how firms access and exploit alliance-based marytypesof knowledgeassociatedwitheachprocessareiden-
knowledge, the authors provide evidence to support the argu-
tified andthen linkedwith the organizationallevel affectedby
ment that the firm is a dynamic system of processes involving
the transferprocess.Fromthose linkages,severalpropositions
different types of knowledge. Using data from a longitudinal
aboutorganizationalknowledgetransferand managementare
developed.Theresultssuggestthatalthougha varietyof knowl-
study of North American-based joint ventures (JVs) between
edge managementstrategiescan be viable,some strategieslead
North American and Japanese firms, they address three related
to moreeffectiveknowledgetransferthanothers.
research questions: (1) what processes do JV partners use to
gain access to alliance knowledge; (2) what types of knowledge
(Organizational Knowledge, Learning; Joint Ventures
are associated with the different processes and how should that and Alliances, Tacit Knowledge; Knowledge Manage-
knowledge be classified; and (3) what is the relationship be- ment Processes)
tween organizational levels, knowledge types, and the transfer
of knowledge?
Although many generalizations have been drawn about the
merits of knowledge-based resources and the creation of knowl-
edge, few efforts have been made to establish systematically Increasingly, the creation of new organizational knowl-
how firms acquire and manage new knowledge. Moreover, prior edge is becoming a managerial priority. New knowledge
alliance research has not addressed in detail the nature of alli- provides the basis for organizational renewal and sustain-
ance knowledge and how knowledge is managed in the alliance able competitive advantage (Prahalad and Hamel 1994,
context. The authors examine the processes used by alliance Quinn 1992). We draw on recent work on knowledge
partners to transfer knowledge from an alliance context to a
management (e.g., Grant 1996, Hedlund 1994, Nonaka
partnercontext. They identify four key processes-technology
and Takeuchi 1995, Spender 1996b), to explore how
sharing, alliance-parent interaction, personnel transfers, and
strategic integration-that share a conceptual underpinning and
firms access and exploit alliance-based knowledge. Using
represent a knowledge connection between parent and alliance. data from a longitudinal study of North American-based
Each of the four processes is shown to provide an avenue for joint venture (JVs) between North American and Japa-
managers to gain exposure to knowledge and ideas outside their nese firms, we address three related research questions:
traditional organizational boundaries and to create a connection (1) What processes do JV partners use to gain access to
for individual managers to communicate their alliance experi- alliance knowledge, (2) what types of knowledge are as-
imnoimc to nflw-rc sociated with the different processes and how should that

Copyright(? 1998, Institutefor OperationsResearch
454 ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998 and the ManagementSciences
ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

knowledge be classified, and (3) what is the relationship alliance may also create a forum for interactions between
between organizational levels, knowledge types, and the the parents that is itself a source of new knowledge.
transferof knowledge? The first question provides a basis Two examples help illustrate how firms learn through
for understanding how firms access and transfer knowl- alliances. Much has been written about how General Mo-
edge across organizational boundaries. Given that the tors struggled to learn from its New United Motor Manu-
firm can be viewed as a system processing different types facturing, Inc. (NUMMI) joint venture with Toyota
of knowledge (Spender 1996b), the second and third (Badaracco 1991, Keller 1989, Mahoney and Deckop
questions are directed at exploring the organizational and 1993). In recent years, knowledge has been transferred
strategic implications of different knowledge types. Our successfully from NUMMI to other General Motors di-
focus in examining the research questions is knowledge visions and plants. In particular,General Motors has used
management by the North American JV parents. its NUMMI experience as a catalyst for several successful
Over the past two decades, the formation of interna- internationalgreenfield plants (Miller 1993).1 The knowl-
tional strategic alliances has increased substantially. The edge transferredhas been primarily in the areas of manu-
number of domestic and internationalalliances has grown facturing process and human resource management. As a
by more than 25 percent annually since 1990 (Bleeke and second example, Sony, a firm with a culture of indepen-
Ernst 1995). Drucker (1995) suggested that the greatest dence in product development, has formed various alli-
change in the way business is being conducted is the ac- ances with computer and telecommunications firms in an
celerating growth of relationships based not on ownership effort to forge new technology linkages for its consumer
but on partnership. Researchers seeking to explain the electronics products (Hamilton 1995). The alliances give
alliance trend have argued that alliances provide a plat- Sony access to a wealth of new knowledge, such as how
form for organizational learning, giving partnerfirms ac- to manage product development cycles that are much fas-
cess to each other's knowledge (Grant 1996, Hamel 1991, ter in the computer industry than in consumer electronics.
Kogut 1988, Westney 1988). Kogut (1988, p. 323) sug- In forming the alliances, Sony has enabled personnel at
gested that learning can be an alliance motive under two various organizational levels to gain access to new
conditions: one or all partner firms want to acquire the knowledge. The challenge for Sony and other firms in-
other's organizational knowledge, or one firm wishes to volved in alliances, and for all firms seeking access to
maintain an organizational capability while benefiting knowledge beyond their boundaries, is to incorporatedis-
from a partner's cost advantage or knowledge. The parate pieces of individual knowledge into a wider or-
knowledge is often organizationally embedded and caus- ganizational knowledge base.
ally ambiguous. If the alliance replicates partnerexperi- A still rather small but growing body of research
ential knowledge in a jointly owned organization, one or (Dodgson 1993, Doz 1996, Hamel 1991, Inkpen and
all partnersmay have access to knowledge that would not Beamish 1997, Inkpen and Crossan 1995, Kogut 1988,
have been available in the absence of collaboration. Makhija and Ganesh 1997, Mowery et al. 1996, Parkhe
In the alliance context, knowledge useful to a parent 1991, Pucik 1991, Simonin and Helleloid 1993, Westney
firm can be viewed from three perspectives. First, firms 1988) is addressing the issue of alliances and learning.
may acquire knowledge useful in the design and man- Researchers have begun to explore some of the important
agement of other alliances (see Lyles 1988). Such knowl- questions associated with how organizations exploit al-
edge may be applied to future alliances. Second, firms liance learning opportunities but have not examined in
may seek access to other firms' knowledge and skills, but detail the nature of alliance knowledge and how knowl-
without necessarily wishing to internalize the knowledge edge is managed in the alliance context. In organizational
in their own operations. As Hamel (1991) pointed out, studies in general, knowledge management has received
knowledge embodied only in the specific outputs of the limited attention, perhaps because dominant theoretical
alliance has no value outside the narrow terms of the col- paradigms are inappropriate for addressing the issue
laborative agreement. Third, an alliance may generate (Hedlund 1994). Therefore, we explore alliance knowl-
knowledge that can be used by parent companies to en- edge with the objective of developing a framework that
hance their own strategy and operations. Our current re- integrates knowledge states and knowledge management
search pertains to that type of knowledge. Knowledge processes with the organizational levels involved in the
useful to a parent may be knowledge transferredby an transfer processes.
alliance partner to the alliance. The knowledge may be We focus on alliance forms that combine resources
created independently by the alliance through its inter- from more than one organization to create a new orga-
actions with customers, competitors, and other firms. The nizational entity (the "child") distinct from its parents. In

ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998 455

ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

most of the cases, such an alliance is an equity joint ven- firms. Zander and Kogut (1995) discussed the tradeoff
ture. Examining that type of alliance allows for a clear between the need to share and transfer knowledge inter-
delineation of the partner relationship and the nature of nally and the risk of exposing the knowledge to imitation.
alliance knowledge. Siecor, an alliance between Siemens To address the knowledge conversion dilemma, there is
and Coming, is an example. The partnersin that alliance a need for a better, broader taxonomy of both tacit and
brought together their complementary capabilities in tele- explicit knowledge.
communications and glass technology to build an inde- Recognizing that firms' idiosyncratic knowledge con-
pendent organization with its own headquarters, CEO, sists mostly of tacit, difficult to imitate knowledge,
board of directors, and staff. Spender (1996b) developed a more comprehensive ty-
pology of organizational knowledge encompassing indi-
vidual and social levels. Whereas individuals have
Conceptual Background knowledge that is practical, communities have knowledge
Types of Organizational Knowledge that constitutes the socialization and social activities of
In developing an understandingof organizational knowl- the individuals within them (Spender 1996b). Individuals
edge, we begin with the distinction between tacit and ex- constantly acquire knowledge, share it with their orga-
plicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge was defined by nizational community, and thus increase the collective
Polanyi (1962) as knowledge that is nonverbalizable, in- store of knowledge, while maintaining a common indi-
tuitive, and unarticulated.Spender (1996a) suggested that vidual knowledge with their coworkers.
tacit knowledge could be understood best as knowledge In Spender's (1996b) typology, explicit knowledge
that has not yet been abstractedfrom practice. It is knowl- stored in databanks, standardoperating procedures, man-
edge that has been transformed into habit and made tra- uals, and so on is referred to as objectified knowledge.
ditional in the sense that it becomes "the way things are Tacit knowledge is separated into three subtypes: con-
done around here" (Spender 1996b) Tacit knowledge is scious, automatic, and collective. Individual tacit knowl-
highly context specific and has a personal quality, which edge can be either conscious or automatic.2 Automatic
makes it difficult to formalize and communicate (Nonaka knowledge is implicit knowledge that "happensby itself'
1994). Explicit knowledge is knowledge that is transmit- and is often taken for granted. Conscious knowledge may
table in formal, systematic language and may include ex- be codified, perhaps as a set of notes, and is potentially
plicit facts, axiomatic propositions, and symbols (Kogut available to other people. Collective knowledge is tacit
and Zander 1992). It can be codified or articulatedin man- knowledge of a social or communal nature.
uals, computer programs, training tools, and so on. Organizational Levels and Knowledge Movement
The distinction between explicit and tacit should not Clearly, organizations are repositories of knowledge. The
be viewed as a dichotomy but rather as a spectrum with important question is how individual and group interac-
the two knowledge types at either end. Winter (1987) tions contribute to organizational knowledge creation.
identified other taxonomic dimensions of knowledge, in- Organizations cannot create knowledge without individ-
cluding complex versus simple, not teachable versus uals, but unless individual knowledge is shared with other
teachable, and not observable in use versus observable in individuals and groups, the knowledge will have a limited
use. Similarly, we argue that although the distinction be- impact on organizational effectiveness. Hence, organi-
tween tacit and explicit is important, it does not allow us zational knowledge creation should be viewed as a pro-
to consider any gray areas between completely tacit and cess whereby the knowledge held by individuals is am-
completely explicit knowledge. Knowledge types, there- plified and internalized as part of an organization's
fore, must be classified on a continuum that ranges from knowledge base (Nonaka 1994). As knowledge is trans-
explicit knowledge embodied in specific products and formed from an individual to a collective state, organi-
processes to tacit knowledge acquiredthrough experience zational knowledge is created (Nonaka and Takeuchi
and use and embodied in individual cognition and orga- 1995). The transformation occurs in a dynamic process
nization routines. involving various organizational levels and carriers of
Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) argued that a key chal- knowledge. Specific learning processes are at work at
lenge for organizations is the conversion of tacit knowl- each level. At the individual level, the critical process is
edge to explicit knowledge. Knowledge that is tacit and interpreting and sense making; at the group level it is
highly personal has little value until it can be converted integrating; and at the organization level it is integrating
into explicit knowledge that other organizational mem- and institutionalizing (Inkpen and Crossan 1995). To cap-
bers can share. However, such a conversion process ex- ture the dynamic movement of knowledge across the lev-
poses the knowledge to the hazard of imitation by other els, Nonaka (1994) developed the concept of a spiral of

SCIENCE/Vol.9, No. 4, July-August 1998
ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

knowledge creation. In the spiral, knowledge moves up- Knowledge Management and Learning Through JVs
ward in an organization, starting at the individual level, In arguing that strategy making is a learning process,
moving to the group level, and then up to the firm level. Mintzberg (1990) suggested that strategic initiatives cre-
As the knowledge spirals upward in the organization, it ate experiences, actions, and strategic choices that pro-
may be enriched and amplified as individuals interact vide the foundation for learning. The focus of our study
with each other and with their organizations. is a particularstrategic initiative-the formation of a JV.
Hedlund and Nonaka (1993), in their analysis of Jap- The JV experience can be the action that triggers learning
anese and Western knowledge management, proposed a because it provides new stimuli that may force changes
model linking organizational levels and types of knowl- in the mental maps of the organization (Nonaka and
edge. Their objective was to develop an understandingof Johansson 1985). An underlying assumption is that man-
how different knowledge types travel and change be- agers have some understandingof the causal relationships
tween individuals and organizations. On the basis of the associated with knowledge, action, and outcomes.
Hedlund and Nonaka (1993) model, we propose Figure 1 Following Inkpen and Crossan (1995) and Nonaka
as a framework for an empirical examination of knowl- (1994), we view knowledge creation through JVs as a
edge management processes. In the framework, the or- multi-stage process, analogous to the innovation diffusion
ganization is seen as a repository of various knowledge process (e.g., Tushman and Scanlon 1981). The first stage
types in different organizational locations. The vertical begins with the formation of the JV and interactions be-
dimension refers to knowledge tacitness and the horizon- tween individuals from the two (or more) partners. The
tal dimension distinguishes between the organizational second stage and our primary focus is the transfer of
levels where knowledge resides. In Figure 1, knowledge knowledge from the JV to the partners.Huber (1991) re-
tacitness is a continuum in which explicit knowledge has ferred to that process as "grafting," whereby organiza-
very low tacitness. The figure implies that as knowledge tions increase their store of knowledge by internalizing
becomes more tacit, it becomes less teachable, less cod- knowledge not previously available within the organiza-
ifiable, and hence, less transferable (Kogut and Zander tion. For internalization to occur, the parents must first
1992). engage in efforts to transfer partner skill-related knowl-
The key assumption underlying this framework is that edge from the JV to themselves. Those efforts create the
organizations have a range of types of knowledge and "connections" through which individuals can share their
carriers of knowledge. Where organizations differ is in observations and experiences (Von Krogh et al. 1994).
their view of the importance of different types of knowl- The intensity of a parent firm's learning efforts reflects
edge and their ability to transform and move knowledge the degree to which the parent is actively trying to inter-
across organizational levels. For example, Hedlund and nalize the skills and capabilities of its partner.
Nonaka (1993) argued that Western firms lose much of Knowledge connections are formed through both for-
their potential for knowledge creation by overemphasiz- mal and informal relationships between individuals and
ing explicit knowledge and the development of complex groups (Inkpen 1996). Those internal managerial rela-
managerial hierarchies, systems, and standardization.Us- tionships facilitate the sharing and communicating of new
ing JVs as the empirical context, we examine the linkages knowledge and provide a basis for transformingindivid-
between knowledge transferprocesses, knowledge types, ual knowledge to organizational knowledge. When one
and organizational levels. The next section is an overview individual's or group's knowledge connects with other
of JVs and learning. knowledge, it can be discussed, debated, and possibly dis-
carded. The knowledge may be further developed and
move upward in the organization. Individual knowledge
Figure 1 Knowledge Transfer Classification Framework
is inherently "fragile" and therefore, without knowledge
Individual -* Group * Organization
connections, new knowledge may be ignored or viewed
Low Knowledge High Ease of Transferability as irrelevant (Von Krogh et al. 1994). Grant (1996) ar-
Tacitness Low Complexity |
gued that organization structurescan be designed to max-
imize the efficiency of knowledge integration. In the lit-
I_ _____________ ------------------------ erature on innovation, specialized personnel such as
"technological gatekeepers" (Katz and Tushman 1980)
and specialized organizational structuressuch as transfer
groups (Katz and Allen 1988) have been shown to have
High Knowledge Low Ease of Transferability a significant effect on the transferof information between
Tacitness High Complexity
organizations. When a JV partnerhas a strategic objective

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ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

of acquisition and proprietary control over alliance to gain a cross-sectional perspective on the basic dimen-
knowledge, knowledge connections are the mechanisms sions of alliance learning. A sample of North American-
for knowledge acquisition. Japanese JVs located in North America provided the em-
Although the transfer of alliance knowledge is a nec- pirical base.3 The primary data collection method for
essary condition for knowledge creation, the parent must stage 1 was field interviews with 58 managers associated
ensure that the transferred knowledge is moved and with 40 two-partner JVs. Most managers held positions
shared within the parent organization. The risk, particu- such as JV president or JV general manager and were
larly with tacit knowledge, is that knowledge transferred either employed by the American partners or appointed
from a JV to a parent will dissipate as it spirals up to the by the American partnersto senior management positions
organization level. The rate of dissipation will be influ- in the JVs. Geringer and Hebert (1991) found that such
enced by a variety of factors. For example, when con- managers are a valid source of JV data. Being at the
fronted with learning opportunities, successful firms may boundary between the JV and parent firms, those man-
see little need to change behavior and thus, may become agers were expected to have an important influence on
trapped by their distinctive competence (Levinthal and parent access to and management of alliance knowledge.
March 1993). The strength of a firm's learning intent will (For more detail on the stage one methodology, see
help determine the organizational resources committed to Inkpen, 1995a and 1995b.)
learning (Hamel 1991). Alliance control mechanisms All JVs were suppliers to the automotive industry and
may influence the transfer of knowledge (Makhija and only one had less than 50 percent of its sales to auto-
Ganesh 1997). The type of knowledge creation mecha- motive customers. The primary JV motive for the major-
nisms plays a key role in how new knowledge is "man- ity of the American partners was access to the Japanese
aged" by alliance parent firms (Hedlund and Nonaka transplant market in the United States. Most of the JVs
1993). Finally, managerial belief systems permeate all were direct suppliers to the automotive assemblers (i.e.,
levels of knowledge creation and correspondingly, con- tier-one suppliers). With two exceptions, all JVs were
tribute to knowledge dissipation (Inkpen and Crossan startupor greenfield organizations. In terms of ownership,
1995). 17 ventures were 50-50, in 15 ventures the Japanese part-
In summary, our study examines the processes used by ners had majority equity, and in 8 ventures the American
firms to gain access to and transfer different types of partnershad majority equity.
alliance-based knowledge. Although much of the learning
literatureaddresses the product or content of learning, the Stage 2: Longitudinal Case Study
process of learning and the types of knowledge are also Stage 1 of the research yielded evidence that the JVs cre-
very important. A focus solely on content ignores the ated important learning opportunities for the American
complex cognitive and behavioral changes that must oc- JV parents. The American firms were provided an excel-
cur before a learning "outcome" can be identified. Given lent "window" into their Japanese partners' capabilities.
that the question of whether or not organizations learn is The window had two main sources of potential value.
controversial, studying knowledge creation may provide First, all but five JVs were transplantsuppliers, and gen-
a more valid foundation for understanding how knowl- erally the products supplied to the transplantswere simi-
edge travels and changes within organizations (Hedlund lar to products manufacturedby the Japanese partnersin
and Nonaka 1993). Japan. The JVs gave the American partners access to
skills created by the Japanese partner for the Japanese
Research Methods and Data market and also access to how those skills could be
We designed a two-stage study. The first stage established adapted to the North American work style and infrastruc-
the industry context and basis for the selection of cases ture. Second, the JVs were often the American partners'
for longitudinal study. In the second stage we used an initial experience in supplying Japanese automakers. In
open-ended approach of grounded theory building most cases the Japanese partnershad established relation-
(Glaser and Strauss 1967) to examine types of knowledge ships with the Japanese automakers. Therefore, the JVs
and processes of alliance-based knowledge management. afforded the American partners an opportunity to learn
The industry, alliance, and partner contextual data from how to manage a long-term Japanese customer relation-
stage I were critical in interpreting the case study data ship, albeit adapted to the North American context.
from stage 2. Stage 1 also provided the foundation for an emerging
Stage 1: Context Definition understanding of alliance knowledge management. The
The initial research stage was designed to provide con- second research stage explored the knowledge manage-
textual understanding of the alliance learning issues and ment process in detail. An emphasis on process suggested

9, No. 4, July-August 1998
ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

the need for a longitudinal approach that would provide management processes initiated by the JV parents and the
deep and extensive access to the individuals involved in motivation of the American parentsto exploit the learning
collaborative exchange. Therefore, a multiple case study potential. To evaluate learning potential, we considered
design was used. It was based on theoretic replication such factors as the nature of partner contributions to the
(Yin 1989) because the choice of cases was directed by JV, the functional similarity of products produced by the
the emerging theory developed from stage 1. For effi- JV and the American parent, manufacturing quality dif-
ciencies in data collection and to capitalize on established ferences between the JV and the American parent, geo-
industry contacts, we selected a subset of five of the cases graphic proximity of the JV plant to the American parent,
from stage 1. We used several criteria to select the cases, and the willingness of the Japanese partner to share its
with the objective of finding variance across several di- technology. For example, the Alpha JV was classified as
mensions. Table 1 reports case characteristics. Of partic- creating high learning potential because (1) the Japanese
ular interest was the learning potential created by the JVs. partner contributed key manufacturing process technol-
It was important because it influenced the knowledge ogy and the customer contact, (2) the JV and American

Table 1 Case Characteristics

Characteristic Alpha Beta Gamma Kappa Sigma

American partner High Medium Medium High Low

learning potential
JV performance Low Medium High Medium High
Partner history None prior to Limited; 10-year Limited; licensing Extensive; 25-year None
technology technology agreement from relationship
assistance relationship 1980 between partner
agreement signed in presidents
Senior JV President from outside; Japanese president; Japanese chairman; American American president
management Japanese VP American COO and American president president/GM; and plant
plant managers and COO; Japanese VP managers;
Japanese sales Japanese sales
manager managers
Equity shares 50/50 65% Japanese, 35% 50/50 50/50 50/50
Key partner Japanese: Japanese: Japanese: Japanese: Japanese: sales
contributions manufacturing manufacturing manufacturing manufacturing support. American:
process and process and process and process and manufacturing
engineering, engineering, product engineering, engineering process, plant
customer contacts, design, customer product design, customer contacts. startup, plant
product design, contacts. American: customer contacts. American: raw management,
access to raw plant startup, plant American: plant materials, JV administrative
materials. American: management, startup, management and support.
plant startup, access administration administration plant management,
to American partner support support HR, legal, startup support
manufacturing finance), plant
equipment, plant management
Customers PrimarilyJapanese Japanese and JV PrimarilyJapanese Japanese and U.S. Mix of Japanese and
automakers automakers automakers automakers American

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ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

parent produced similar products, (3) the Japanese parent actual knowledge management, Table 3 summarizes
was open in its willingness to share technology, (4) the some of the knowledge management activities associated
JV's quality record was superior to that of the American with the Kappa JV. Similar data were collected for each
parent, and (5) the JV plant was located in an unused of the cases. In the following sections, each of the pro-
American facility a short distance from the American par- cesses is described in detail and additional examples are
ent headquarters.JV performance was evaluated from the provided. We then link the processes with knowledge
perspective of the American parent and was based on the types and the parent's organizational levels affected by
American parent's overall satisfaction with performance. the processes.
Partner history reflects the extent of previous collabora- Technology Sharing. American parent firms insti-
tive relationships between the partners. tuted various technology sharing processes to gain access
Building on the data collected in the first stage, we to technology resident in the JV and in the Japanese part-
began second stage site visits and interviews in May 1993 ner. The most evident knowledge transfer approach was
and continued to September 1994. The interviews in stage through structuredmeetings between JV and parent man-
2 were usually 90 minutes to two hours long, although a agers. In Gamma, monthly meetings were held, with the
few were a half day or more. For the cases studied in this location alternatingbetween the JV and one of the Amer-
stage of the research, a total of 20 interviews were con- ican parent plants. In attendance at the meetings were
ducted with senior American managers in the JVs and plant managers, heads of quality control, R&D managers,
parent organizations. Including the first stage interviews, the VP manufacturingat the American parenthead office,
observations were collected over a period of three and and several senior JV managers. In addition, quarterly
one-half years. R&D meetings were held involving the JV and American
parent. The manufacturing vice president of one of the
American parents said that "while [he] hated to admit it,
the quality of the JV product was superior to that in the
Knowledge ManagementProcesses parent." As a result, a program was initiated with plant
For each of the cases, we collected data on the knowledge managers to address the need to improve quality and cus-
management processes used by the American parents. tomer service.
From the data, four critical processes were identified: Access to partnertechnology skills also was available
technology sharing, JV-parent interaction, personnel through direct linkages between Japanese and American
transfers, and strategic integration. The four processes partners.In both Kappa and Sigma, American parentper-
share a conceptual underpinning in that each represents a sonnel regularly visited Japanese parentfacilities. To cap-
knowledge connection, which creates the potential for in- italize on the Japanese partner's fabrication knowledge
dividuals to share their observations and experiences. and ability to operate with fewer equipment operators,
Each of the four processes provided an avenue for man- Kappa managers invited several Japanese engineers to the
agers to gain exposure to knowledge and ideas outside United States to train parent engineers. The Japanese en-
their traditional organizational boundaries and created a gineers brought very detailed equipment designs that
connection for individual managers to communicate their would enable the American firm to replicate their manu-
JV experiences to others. In that sense, the four processes facturing process. When no visible progress was made in
represent the locus of knowledge creation because it is designing new equipment, the American president de-
through those processes that different types of knowledge cided to contract equipment design and manufacturingto
converge and become accessible. the Japanese partner. An American engineer would be
On the basis of the interview data, the cases were eval- sent to Japan to learn about the equipment so it could be
uated individually on the intensity of the processes for installed in the United States.
transferringknowledge (Table 2). The high, medium, and In another case, the partnerssigned a very broad global
low classifications are a function of comparison across technology agreement. Both partners agreed to be com-
the cases. "Low" means that we found no evidence of a pletely open in sharing both product and manufacturing
knowledge management process. "Medium" means that technology. For product technology, explicit terms on li-
the process was occurring but at a lower intensity than it censing and royalties were established. For manufactur-
was in at least one of the other "high"cases. For example, ing technology there were no terms. For example, the
we observed that all of the knowledge management pro- American parent might ask to borrow a Japanese partner
cesses were present for Kappa and were occurring at a engineer for a few weeks. When that had happened in the
high intensity level. Alpha was classified as low for three past there had been no financial considerations because
processes and medium for one. To provide examples of "it all comes out in the wash." The American partner

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Table 2 Knowledge Management in the Five Cases

Alpha Beta Gamma Kappa Sigma

Technology sharing Low Low High High Medium

Interorganizational interaction Medium Medium High High High
Personnel transfers Low Medium Medium High Medium
Strategic integration Low Low High High Medium

recognized the need for reciprocal commitment (cf. Table 3 Examples of Knowledge Management Processes in
Gulati et al. 1994) and tried to make the technology shar- Kappa
ing a two-way relationship.
JV-parent Interactions. Individual knowledge and 1. The American parent (AP) studied various aspects of the JV's
perspectives remain personal unless they are amplified operation, including its use of employee involvement programs,
kaizen teams, and scheduling system. The AP has also studied
and articulatedthrough social interaction (Nonaka 1994).
some of the JV's process innovations, one of which the JV con-
Interactions between parent and JV managers beyond
siders proprietary.
specific technology initiatives can create the social con-
text necessary to bring JV knowledge into a wider arena. 2. Several JV managers were promoted to positions within the AP.
In this study, the interactions were primarily social and One manager was promoted into an AP staff training position at
AP HQ. Several engineers were also promoted.
involved a variety of groups. In effect, the JV-parent in-
teractions provided the foundation for evolving commu- 3. AP senior managers were committed to the JV and to an Asian
nities of practice (Brown and Duguid 1991). Community connection. The JV is the strongest Asian connection. The pres-
members share knowledge and may be willing to chal- ident of the AP had a very close relationship with the former Jap-
anese parent chairman.
lenge the organization's conventional wisdom.
Visits and tours of JV facilities were an effective and 4. The AP set up what it called "gatekeepers," units of the company
simple interactive means for parent managers to learn responsible for certain aspects of manufacturing. The gatekeeper
about their JVs. The JV managers were generally con- was expected to be available to all units of the company on the
vinced that the differences embodied in the JV were visi- specific process or technology. The JV was asked to be the gate-
keeper for JIT.
ble and parent managers would appreciatethe differences
if they spent time in the JV. However, visits were not 5. The AP had several engineers temporarily working in Japan in the
always perceived as effectively utilized, as various man- Japanese parent organization.
agers indicated. A utilization of a JV visit that produced 6. The AP and the Japanese parent initiated a joint engineering pro-
an observable change occurred when an American parent ject. A piece of manufacturing equipment was to be made by the
sent several managers to visit its JV to study the JV's Japanese partner in Japan, with an American engineer visiting
human resource management systems. In contrastto most Japan during the project period.
of the American parent plants, the JV was a nonunion 7. More than 15 employees in the JV visited Japan.
operation with a hybrid mix of Japanese and American
human resource practices. The American parent was es-
tablishing a new nonunion operation and decided to use satisfactory, although the JV was a rich source of knowl-
the JV as a model. With the JV managers' support, the edge for the American parent. In another example, the
visiting managers spent several days studying the JV and American parent substantially increased its quality be-
then incorporated much of their knowledge in the new cause of pressure from the JV customer, which in turn
nonunion plant. One explanation for the success of the was under pressure from its Japanese transplantsupplier.
knowledge transfer is that learning was focused on a dis- Until the JV was formed, the American parent had not
crete system that could easily be replicated. had any extensive interactions with Japanese customers.
Customer-supplier relationships between the JV and In supplying the JV, and indirectly becoming a transplant
the American parent also created a basis for extensive, supplier, the American parent was forced to evaluate
although not always amicable, interaction. In the Alpha some of its manufacturing operations.
case, the JV acted as both supplier and customer for the Meetings, such as monthly sales meetings between par-
American parent. Neither relationship was considered ent divisions and the JV, were also a means of interacting

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ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

and exchanging knowledge. Finally, in several cases the other's businesses. For example, one of the American par-
JV relied extensively on the American parent for various ents won a contract to supply a part but was unable to
services, such as purchasing, accounting, human resource meet the target cost. The parent decided to use its JV to
management, and in one case laboratory facilities. Con- produce the part because of the JV's superior process
sequently, the American parent managers had no choice technology. Such a linkage indicates that the American
but to be involved with the JV. parent management had internalized the knowledge as-
Personnel Transfers. Personnel transfers can be con- sociated with differences between the parent and JV. The
sidered a process of organizational reflection (Hedlund linkage also opened the door for more knowledge sharing
and Nonaka 1993) and a means of mobilizing personal and cooperation in the future.
knowledge. Transfers and rotation of personnel help To maximize exposure to strategic knowledge, alliance
members of an organization to understand the business partners must go beyond the narrow confines of the JV
from a multiplicity of perspectives, which in turn makes agreement. In Gamma and Kappa, the JV functioned like
knowledge more fluid and easier to put into practice a related division of the American parent, with the parent
(Nonaka 1994, p. 29). The rotation of managers through focused on managing the partnerrelationship, not just the
JV positions and back to the parent may encourage the JV itself. The JV was incorporatedinto the parent's stra-
"bleedthrough"of ideas from the venture to the parent tegic planning processes and was expected to contribute
(Harrigan 1985). new ideas and provide leadership in a particulartechnol-
None of the cases studied had a structuredprocess of ogy area. The relationship between the partners was be-
rotation between the JV and the parent. However, Kappa coming much tighter. For Kappa, the JV was formed
had an extensive informal system of personnel transfers strictly as a transplant supplier that was relatively inde-
between the organizations. For example, the American pendent of its American parent, relying extensively on
parent promoted a Kappa manager to a staff training po- the Japanese partnerfor product technology and market-
sition at parent headquarters.Several engineers also were ing support. Over the years, Kappa became less indepen-
promoted. In four of the cases, senior managers in the JV dent as ties between the two partners increased. For
had been transferredto the JV when it was formed. The Gamma, the JV was initially presented to the transplant
careers of the managers were considered closely linked customers as a Japanese company. The JV evolved into
to the American parent and not just the JV. In Gamma, a much less "Japanese"firm and, through its American
the chief operating officer of the JV came from the Amer- parent's contact, developed a substantial amount of busi-
ican parent to act as mentor for the younger JV managers ness with domestic customers. The objective, as a Gamma
and will eventually return to the American parent. In manager remarked, was for both the JV and the parents
Beta, two plant managers spent time in the JV and then to benefit.
returnedto plant management positions in American par-
ent plants. Types of Knowledge
Strategic Integration. Doz (1996) argued that the Building on the preceding description of the knowledge
partnerinterface is critical to the parent's appreciation of management processes, the primary types of knowledge
the differences between the partners. A narrow and dis- associated with each process were identified. Table 4,
tant interface was found to be an obstacle to learning (Doz based on Spender's (1996b) typology, shows the classi-
1996). The process through which a JV strategy is linked fication and provides examples of each type of knowl-
with a parent strategy is termed strategic integration edge. Because the table is based on our observations of
(Harriganand Newman 1990). A JV perceived as periph- knowledge types, it does not include certain knowledge
eral to the parent organization's strategy is likely to yield types that might be associated with the processes in dif-
few opportunities for the transfer of alliance knowledge ferent research settings. For example, technology sharing
to the parent. A JV closely related to the parent strategy in our study involved knowledge with low tacitness.
may receive more attention from the parent organization, Clearly, technology could be viewed as having a signifi-
leading to substantial parent-JV interaction and a greater cant tacit dimension, but in the cases studied, the knowl-
commitment of resources to the management of the col- edge transferred(and the knowledge of apparentinterest
laboration. As Hamel (1991) argued, receptivity to learn- to the American partners)had a minimal tacit dimension.
ing is enhanced if the parent and its alliance are closely The knowledge associated with technology sharing
related. Note the assumption that the linkages are consis- was classified as explicit, objectified knowledge because
tent with the strategic goals of the parents and JVs. it was related primarily to product designs or specific
Through strategic linkages between the JV and the par- manufacturingprocesses. For example, knowledge about
ent, the partners can gain important insights into each quality control processes and factory scheduling systems

462 ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/VOl. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998

ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

was of potential interest to most of the American partners. Table 4 Knowledge Management Processes and Types of
For the technology-based knowledge, a strong explicit Knowledge
memory component was embodied in the practices of the
JV and, because much of the knowledge in the JV orig- Examples of
inated in Japan, also in the practices of the Japanese par- Knowledge
Knowledge Potentially
Management Types of Useful to American
Most knowledge sharedthroughJV-parent interactions
Processes Knowledge JV Parents
was objectified, although there was a high potential for
sharing tacit, collective knowledge, such as that associ- Technology sharing Explicit/objectified Quality control
ated with a commitment to product quality. We view processes
product quality knowledge as tacit because it was asso- Product designs
ciated with a culture and philosophy about business and Scheduling systems
was not based on specific rules or guidelines.4 The JV- JV-Parent Explicit/objectified Specific human
parent interactions provided an excellent opportunity for interactions resource
the American parentsto acquire such knowledge, but con- practices
siderable resistance to it was evident at the American par-
Tacit/collective Quality
ent level. In one case, the value of quality process knowl-
edge was discounted by the parent (even after the
Japanese parent had offered to facilitate the knowledge Personnel transfers Tacit/collective Continuous
transfer) with the argumentthat "what the JV does would improvement
never work here," even though the JV and parent were objectives
Commitment to
producing very similar products.
Personnel transfers had the potential to transfer tacit, satisfaction
difficult to articulate knowledge, such as beliefs and
norms of behaviors. For example, an important belief in Tacit/conscious Meaning of quality
the JVs was that Japanese transplant customers had from Japanese
greater expectations about customer satisfaction than
American customers. Because that belief was usually
shared across levels of the organization, it is classified as Strategic integration Explicit/objectified Market intelligence
collective knowledge within the JV. Other types of Partner's keiretsu
knowledge were more personal, such as the nature and
importance of Japanese partnerapproaches to human re- Tacit/collective JV competitive
source practices. Because our focus was managerial advantage
movements between the JV and parent, the type of indi- Tacit/conscious Visions for the
vidual knowledge of greatest potential for transfer was future
conscious knowledge. Had we addressed the transfer of Implications of the
personnel below the managerial level, we undoubtedly partner's keiretsu
would have identified instances of automatic knowledge relationships
Although strategic integration creates linkages that are
organizational, our findings suggest that potential knowl- although our study suggests that American partnerman-
edge transfers may involve both social and individual agers were generally unsure of how to capture the value.
knowledge. Through strategic cooperation, JV partners
Organizational Levels
can gain access to objectified, explicit knowledge as well
Learning and knowledge creation occur through a process
as to culture-related, communal knowledge about orga- involving various organizational levels and actors. For
nizational behaviors and norms. The knowledge may also each of the knowledge management processes, Figure 2
be of a tacit, individual nature because there is no con- provides a multidimensional view linking the primary
sensus about the strategic value of the information. In this knowledge type and organizational levels in the parent
study, individual JV managers learned much about the firms. Like Table 4, the figure summarizes the findings
Japanese partner's interorganizational or keiretsu rela- for the five cases and is based on the identified (as op-
tionships. Such knowledge had potential strategic value, posed to ideal) knowledge transfer. As Table 3 shows, in

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ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

Figure 2 Knowledge Management Processes and Type of Knowledge Transferred

Organizational Level

Individual * Group * Organization

Low Knowledge Qi Q2
Technology Sharing

l l l 'ed ,
~~~~~~~~Objectif l Objectif ed
Knowleg JV-Parent Intiraction Strategic
Type _
Type~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Integration


Tacitnes.s S e | Q3'
~ ;'/ .1~~~~~~~~~.
'Q4r4ne/rf s"

High K-nowledge ////

Tacitness Q3 Q4


Collective Knowledge

LIZ Objectified Knowledge

two of the cases little knowledge was transferredfrom the conclude that only a limited amount of knowledge asso-
JV to American parent. ciated with personnel transfers "spiraled" beyond the
The boxes in Figure 2 can be interpreted by height, group level to the organizational level. Strategic integra-
width, and volume. The height of the box represents the tion involved knowledge ranging from low to high in tac-
range of knowledge types associated with the knowledge itness that penetrated mainly the group-organizationlev-
management process. The higher the box, the greater the els. Strategic integration also generated some individual
range of knowledge types. Box width representsthe range knowledge. The JV-parentinteractionprocess had the po-
of organizational levels affected by the knowledge man- tential to transferknowledge with similar tacitness to that
agement process. Box volume provides an indication of transferredby strategic integration, but on a more limited
the overall intensity of the process. scale and at lower organizational levels. Resistance in the
The technology sharing process involved primarily ex- American parents to the costs of learning limited the ef-
plicit, social knowledge that could be transferredto the fectiveness of the process at the organization level. One
group and organizational levels within the American par- explanation for that resistance was that American parent
ents. The personnel transfers process involved mainly organizations were so lean that little time was available
knowledge with medium to high tacitness that influenced to invest in learning. This supports the view that Western
individual and group levels. Based on our findings, we organizations try to learn in large, discrete steps (Hedlund

464 ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998

ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

and Nonaka 1993) and often fail to recognize the value (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995). Although in all the cases
of incremental learning.5 the American firms formed JVs with an objective of
learning from their Japanese partners,the learning expec-
tations revolved around "what"the Japanese knew, rather
Discussion than "how" and "why"the Japanese firms knew what they
This study contributes to the literatureon knowledge and knew. In other words, initial emphasis was on explicit
the firm by examining knowledge management in an al- knowledge. The American firms expected to find visible
liance context. We have sought to systematically estab- differences in the JV that could be analyzed and incor-
lish how firms acquire and manage new knowledge. We porated in the parent. The absence of highly visible dif-
identified specific knowledge management processes by ferences in systems and processes was often equated with
examining firms' efforts to exploit JV learning opportu- low learning potential.
nities and linked those processes with types of knowledge Because of the focus on explicit knowledge, the Amer-
and organizational levels. ican firms often began their collaboration with the view
PropositionDevelopment that the knowledge management processes based on tech-
Several propositions about organizational knowledge nology sharing and interorganizational interaction were
transfer and management can be derived from the find- the most viable. However, in one of the cases, the focus
ings. Two pertain to relationships between knowledge on narrow, technology-related learning objectives re-
tacitness, organizational level, and transfereffectiveness, sulted in an early abandonmentof technology sharing ef-
forts. Hence, Proposition 3.
and three pertain to transfer effectiveness when the core
of knowledge transferredis highly tacit. PROPOSITION 3. Firms that focus their initial learn-
First, we can predict that the more tacit the knowledge, ing efforts on explicit knowledge will tend to ignore tacit-
the lower the organizational level through which suc- knowledge-based learning opportunities, thereby in-
cessful transfers will occur. Highly tacit knowledge is in- creasing their propensity to undervalue overall learning
tuitive, nonverbalizable, and related to individual expe- potential.
riences. First-hand experiences with tacit knowledge are Earlier we noted that knowledge connections create the
critical to its successful transfer. Knowledge that is low potential for individuals to share their observations and
in tacitness is often related to product and process tech- experiences. The firms most successful in knowledge
nology transfers that can occur on a higher, more collec- transfer recognized that important knowledge could not
tive level. Hence, Proposition 1. be internalized without substantial interaction between
the people in the parent and those in the JV. This was
PROPOSITION 1. The tacitness of transferred knowl-
particularly true when the knowledge had a high level of
edge will have an inverse relationship to the organiza- tacitness.
tional level where initial transfer takes place; the greater
PROPOSITION 4. The more successful the transfer of
the tacitness, the more likely individuals will be the pri-
mary knowledge transfer agents. tacit knowledge, the greater the individual interactions
between the "learning" organization and the "teaching"
Similarly, we can argue that when knowledge transfers organization.
are initiated at the group and organization levels, perhaps Firms increasingly saw the need for strategic relation-
through team visits or group seminars, the transfers will ships between the two organizational units as a means of
be less effective when the knowledge has a high tacit solidifying the knowledge linkages. The strategic inte-
element. gration process involved less visibly defined objectives
PROPOSITION 2. The effectiveness of knowledge than the technology sharing process and in that sense,
transfers initiated at the collective level will be negatively enabled the communication of more tacit knowledge.
related to the tacitness of the knowledge. PROPOSITION 5. The more successful the transfer of
tacit strategic knowledge, the greater the strategic rela-
Figure 2 shows that the identified knowledge transfer
tionship between the "learning" organization and the
processes are primarily in quadrant 2, with personnel
"teaching" organization.
transfers occupying the top half of quadrant 3. Clearly,
the American firms were focused on explicit knowledge. Managerial Implications
This is consistent with the argumentthat in their approach Spender (1996b) argued that the most strategically im-
to organizational learning, Western firms tend to focus on portant feature of a firm is its body of collective knowl-
explicit knowledge that can be created through analytical edge. We identified several knowledge management pro-
skills and concrete forms of oral and visual presentation cesses that firms use to exploit alliance learning

ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998 465

ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

opportunities. Although all of the processes are poten- exchanged between the partners. Also, industry condi-
tially effective, we found that the different processes in- tions can influence learning intent and managerial com-
volved different types of knowledge and different orga- mitment. When our research began in 1990, the U.S. au-
nizational levels. Organizationscreate, store, transfer,and tomotive industry was under serious attack by Japanese
discard various types of knowledge. Therefore, organi- firms. Suppliers had to cope with new competitors, and
zations must engage in a variety of knowledge manage- their traditional customers were losing market share. By
ment processes. 1994, the situation had changed dramatically. The do-
Personnel transfers can be an effective process through mestic auto industry was recapturing some of its market
which to acquire tacit knowledge that can be acquired share, and suppliers were reaping the benefits. The learn-
only through time and experience. The risk with person- ing imperative that prevailed in 1990 was no longer as
nel transfers is that if the knowledge remains individual, critical. That change highlights one of the problems with
the potential social impact of the learning is lost. To max- cross-sectional research, namely that firms and industries
imize the effectiveness of personnel transfers, systems are in constant evolution. Longitudinal research captures
may have to be established to ensure that knowledge goes the evolutionary patterns in the underlying research con-
beyond the individual level. Strategic integration can be text.
an effective higher level knowledge sharing tool. It en-
ables meaningful communication and collaboration be- Conclusion
tween organizations at the group and organizational lev- There are several underlying assumptions in the paper.
els rather than at the individual level. Personnel transfer First, there can be a significant payoff in cooperating,
schemes and strategic integration suggest a long-term ba- namely knowledge creation. Although not all knowledge
sis for knowledge sharing and potentially allow for the creation efforts will have immediate performance pay-
offs, over the long term successful knowledge creation
largest amounts of knowledge to travel interorganization-
should strengthenand reinforce a firm's competitive strat-
ally. Additionally, such long-term processes create the
egy. Second, each alliance partnerhas knowledge that, at
potential for a continuous flow of knowledge, which in
least in part, should be considered valuable by the other
turn can lead to continuous learning and change. How-
partner(s). Third, knowledge creation is a dynamic pro-
ever, as we found, personnel transfers do not always re- cess involving interactions at various organizational lev-
sult in significant organization level knowledge transfer. els and an expanding community of individuals that en-
The other two processes, technology sharing and JV- large, amplify, and internalize the alliance knowledge.
parent interactions, are based on shorter term knowledge Finally, knowledge creation and the upward movement
relationships and as such, are less effective in transferring of knowledge through the different organizational levels
tacit knowledge. Nevertheless, this study shows that they can be at least partially responsive to managerial influ-
can be effective as a means of acquiring explicit, objec- ence.
tified knowledge. Moreover, given that the decision to To be successful, organizations must not only process
initiate knowledge creation efforts must be balanced with information but also create new information and knowl-
the cost of doing so, technology sharing and JV-parent edge. This study explored how organizations involved in
interaction processes may be less costly than strategic in- alliances can use their alliance experience as the basis for
tegration and personnel transfers. Visits and tours of JV managing and creating knowledge. We provide some em-
facilities were identified as a simple and effective means pirical evidence to support the conceptual arguments
for parent managers to interact with JV managers. made by Hedlund (1994) and Spender (1996b) about the
In summary, this research suggests that organizations firm as a dynamic system of processes involving different
must be aware of the different types of knowledge and types of knowledge. Furtherresearch is needed to probe
design appropriate systems to process the knowledge. deeper into the relationships between organizational lev-
Clearly, firms will attach different values to JV knowl- els, types of knowledge, and organizational processes. In
edge, and therefore knowledge creation and processing particular, there is a need to study how organizations
strategies will differ across organizations and also evolve manage highly tacit knowledge that resides at the collec-
over time. We found that a variety of knowledge man- tive level of the organization. Such an orientation can
agement strategies can be useful, although some strate- help capturethe dynamics of knowledge management and
gies lead to more effective knowledge transfer than oth- greatly enrich understanding of how firms acquire and
ers. For example, in four of the five cases (all but Sigma), transfer knowledge.
the Japanese partnerwas responsible for the manufactur- Acknowledgments
ing process and product technology, which obviously in- Grants to the first author from the Carnegie Bosch Institute for Applied
fluenced the type of technology knowledge that could be Studies in International Management, Temple University's Center for

466 ORGANIZATIONSCIENCE/Vol. 9, No. 4, July-August 1998

ANDREW C. INKPEN AND ADVA DINUR Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

East Asian Studies, and the ThunderbirdBusiness Research Center are Form Corporation,"Strategic Management Journal, 15, 73-90.
gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Rob Grant, Ikujiro and I. Nonaka (1993), "Models of Knowledge Management in
Nonaka, and J. C. Spender for their helpful comments. the West and Japan," in P. Lorange, B. Chakravarthy,J. Roos,
and A. Van de Ven (Eds.), Implementing Strategic Processes:
Endnotes Change, Learning, And Co-Operation, Oxford, UK: Basil Black-
'Confirmed through discussions between the first author and several well, 117-144.
General Motors managers. Huber, G. P. (1991), "OrganizationalLearning: The Contributing Pro-
2Spender (1996b) emphasized that the boundaries between the types of cesses and a Review of the Literature,"Organization Science, 2,
knowledge are imprecise. 88-117.
3Although the sample included two Canadian firms, for brevity we refer Inkpen, A. C. (1995a), "Organizational Learning and International
to the sample as American rather than North American. Joint Ventures," Journal of International Management, 1, 165-
4In contrast, specific quality control systems or processes that involve 198.
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5For a detailed discussion of Western versus Japanese knowledge man- Organizational Learning Perspective, London, UK: Routledge
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Takeuchi (1995, ch. 8) use several Japanese company examples to de- (1996), "Creating Knowledge Through Collaboration," Califor-
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Accepted by Ikujiro Nonaka; received November 5, 1996. This paper has been with the authors for one revision

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