Knowledge Management in China: A Tale of Two Companies

Thursday, July 15, 2010, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., Microsoft, 201 Jones Rd., Sixth Floor, Waltham, MA 02451. Directions.

SPEAKER: Wei Zhang, Associate Professor, College of Management, Univ. of Mass, Boston

TOPIC: While knowledge management has been popular among US companies, Chinese companies have not practiced it until recently. In this presentation, Dr. Zhang will discuss knowledge management practices in two Chinese companies that he has recently visited. Both companies are quite successful, but they differ from each other greatly in almost every aspect of their knowledge management practices. He will compare-and-contrast their practices and also explore the role culture plays in their knowledge management practices. [Partial Slide Deck]

BIOGRAPHY: Wei Zhang earned his doctorate in management information systems from Boston University. His research interests include knowledge management, cultural issues in Information Systems, and Information Systems Education. Dr. Zhang has published in journals such as Journal of Association for Information Systems, Social Work, Communications of the Association for Information Systems, and Journal of Information Systems Education.

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2 Responses to “Knowledge Management in China: A Tale of Two Companies”

  1. 1 lynda

    Dr. Wei Zhang shared his very valuable and fascinating insights into China’s demographics, educational context, and growth realities before launching into his presentation of two very different KM models in two very different companies.

    The slides for the background on China and Chinese growth are linked at the meeting notice and, with permission Wei hopes to secure from the companies, we may be able to share the entire slide set later in the year. In the meantime, I’ll wet your appetite with some highlights from his presentation:

    In one company, a hierarchically structured manufacturing operation, learning and sharing was expected, baked-into employment expectations and routines with formal classes, and promoted as the highest form of commitment to employment status. Managers are trainers and reinforce their own knowledge and expertise by teaching classes. Learning to be a good citizen, contributing member of society and to the work team are established priorities expected to be adopted as routine behaviors. A principal operational standard is to create a learning organization, adopt systematic thinking and integrating knowledge from any source into a holistic view of how to function within the company.This organization manages the learning activities and expectations are established by top management.

    The second organization is a firm in a high tech sector and encourages a team community of practice to work on solving problems collaboratively through self-organizing “clubs.” The tone is very social in nature and “meetings” are conducted by members with support but no intervention from management. A spirit of collegiality and high spirited debate for finding solutions to problems contributes to a stimulating atmosphere.

    Both companies are very successful (financially and in attracting top workers) and demonstrate how two very different models for knowledge and learning (top-down and bottom-up) can achieve positive outcomes for the organization.

  1. 1 Perspectives on KM in Management Education, and Information Sharing Systems in China at Boston KM Forum

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