The transfer of 'best practice' knowledge into manufacturing companies : executive summary
Gregory, Ian C.
The objective of the Engineering Doctorate is to demonstrate innovation in the\ud application of knowledge to the engineering business environment. The theme of this\ud portfolio is to understand the mechanisms for the transfer of 'best practice' knowledge\ud into manufacturing industry and its successful application.\ud This topic is of vital importance to the future competitiveness of UK industry. It is\ud widely accepted within the management literature that the pace of change within the\ud business world has increased and will continue to do so at an ever accelerating rate.\ud This has been fuelled by the globalisation of markets, by the increased involvement of\ud huge and developing nations like China and India into international trade and by the\ud possibilities provided by new technologies. In such an environment it will be\ud increasingly difficult for companies with mediocre performance to survive. For\ud example, one study (Strategic Planning Society et at, 1996) ranked 30.1% of UK\ud companies as 'punchbags' and a further 9.5% as 'won't go the distance'. Thus they\ud expect 39.6% of UK industry to experience difficulty in surviving in the future.\ud The best hope for UK manufacturing industry is to raise the performance of these\ud companies to that near to 'best in class' in their particular market. This cannot be\ud achieved by isolated evolution. There isn't time. It requires an input of knowledge\ud developed from companies who have tried different ways of doing things and regained\ud their competitive position. By learning from the successes and failures of others the process of company regeneration can be accelerated. This way companies stand a\ud better chance of survival.\ud The success of the organisational learning process for these companies is dependent\ud upon the process of transferring this knowledge. If the knowledge is transferred\ud effectively it will be used quickly to benefit the company. If it is transferred poorly it\ud may slow down the change process as managers and employees become cynical and\ud turn back to "the way we've always done things".\ud Understanding the best way to transfer 'best practice' knowledge is a key element in\ud understanding how to accelerate the regeneration of UK manufacturing industry and\ud provides the theme for this portfolio. The portfolio's starting point is the definition for\ud innovation provided by the TJK Department of Trade and Industry, "the successful\ud exploitation of new ideas", which allows the demonstration of innovation in the\ud application of knowledge in two ways:\ud * Through innovative approaches to successful transfer and use of knowledge by\ud comparues.\ud * Identification and application of 'Best Practice' techniques to companies where\ud they had not been considered before.\ud Having identified the nature of and opportunities to test 'best practice', the umbrella of\ud tools and techniques known as 'Time Compression' was taken as, an academic and\ud practical framework for the transfer of 'best practice' into four companies. The\ud learning generated by these interventions has been combined with the results of survey research and literature review to develop the theme for the portfolio, the transfer of\ud 'best practice' knowledge into manufacturing industry.
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