The moderating effect of knowledge sharing on the relationship between manufacturing activities and business performance

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Huang, Tsu-Te Andrew
Chen, Le
Stewart, Rodney A
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John S Edwards


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This paper investigated the critical role of knowledge sharing (KS) in leveraging manufacturing activities, namely, integrated supply management (ISM) and new product development (NPD), to improve business performance (BP), within the context of Taiwanese electronic manufacturing companies. The research adopted a sequential mixed method research design, which provided both quantitative empirical evidence as well as qualitative insights, about the moderating effect of KS on the relationships between these two core manufacturing activities and BP. Firstly, a questionnaire survey was administered, which resulted in a sample of 170 managerial and technical professionals providing their opinions on KS, NPD and ISM activities and the BP level within their respective companies. Based on the collected data, factor analysis was used to verify the measurement model, followed by correlation analysis to explore factor interrelationships, and finally moderated regression analyses to extract the moderating effects of KS on the relationships of NPD and ISM with BP. Following the quantitative study, six semi-structured interviews were conducted to provide qualitative in-depth insights into the value added from KS practices to the targeted manufacturing activities and the extent of its leveraging power. Results from quantitative statistical analysis indicated that KS, NPD and ISM all have a significant positive impact on BP. Specifically, IT infrastructure and open communication were identified as the two types of KS practices that could facilitate enriched supplier evaluation and selection, empower active employee involvement in the design process, and provide support for product simplification and the modular design process, thereby improving manufacturing performance and strengthening company competitiveness. The interviews authenticated many of the empirical findings, suggesting that in the contemporary manufacturing context, KS has become an integral part of many ISM and NPD activities and when embedded properly can lead to an improvement in BP. The paper also highlights a number of useful implications for manufacturing companies seeking to leverage their BP through innovative and sustained KS practices.

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Knowledge Management Research & Practice

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© 2010 Palgrave Macmillan. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Knowledge Management Research & Practice. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Knowledge Management Research & Practice [Volume 8, Issue 4, Pages 285–306] is available online at:

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