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Management Hall of Fame
Most Respected Management Gurus

Ikujiro Nonaka
The Knowledge-creating Company (1935 - Present)

Key Work

  • Graduates from Waseda University
  • Joined Hirotaka Takeuchi in Publishing of "The Knowledge-creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation". They argue that the success of Japanese companies is due to their skill and expertise in organizational knowledge creation and continuous business innovation.
  • Becomes dean of the school of knowledge science at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST).

According to Nonaka, knowledge-creation is a core source of competitive advantage for the organization

Explicit And Implicit Knowledge & SECI process:
Successful Japanese companies are able to convert and "amplify" implicit knowledge to explicit knowledge, so that knowledge acquired by individuals becomes organizational knowledge shared among colleagues. There are four methods of knowledge conversion known as the SECI process:

  • Socialization : Physical face to face experiences
  • Externalization: Where individuals' mental models and skills are converted into common terms and concepts
  • Combination: Interaction & exchange  in the virtual world of cyberspace and intranets
  • Internalization: Training with senior mentors and colleagues

Middle-up-Down Management Style

Nonaka and Takeuchi argue that the two traditional Western management styles, "top-down" and "bottom-up," fail to foster the dynamic interaction necessary to create organizational knowledge.

The role of the middle management is important to the success of companies . They are "knowledge engineers" of the knowledge-creating. They are the knowledge transfer agent in both directions taking the top management vision of "what should be" and the frontline employees' realistic sense of "what is," and facilitate and bridge between them 

The ideal organization structure for innovation and knowledge creation is called the A "hypertext" organization consisting of interconnected layers an example of such organizations are Kao and Sharp

To become knowledge-creating companies. Management should :

  • Create a knowledge vision
  • Develop a knowledge teams
  • Build Collaboration fields
  • Adopt middle-up-down management
  • Switch to hypertext organization
  • Construct external knowledge network with the outside world (stakeholders partners and customers).

Books & References:

  • Monaka, Ikujiro, with Hirotaka Takeuchi. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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 Last Updated: January 1, 2022.

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