Inderscience Publishers

Adding value to a company's selling activity through knowledge management: a case study

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One of the many knowledge management challenges is the need to create systems and procedures that share individual or tacit knowledge throughout the organisation. The paper traces the development of such a system in a medium-sized chemical company designed to add value to its selling activity. The knowledge management system was built in-house using available software and was designed to interact with existing databases and procedures. Specifically, the system was an aid to a global sales force, which allowed individual sales staff to access, via a laptop, all of the company's databases and uniquely the system included an enquiry system which routed questions to suitably qualified respondents. The answers were then incorporated into a database available for all of the sales force. Clearly, the effectiveness of such a system depends on the attitudes of users. The problems of use are contrasted with the evidence from research into the use of computer systems. Whilst the results are preliminary there are parallels but more importantly perhaps are the problems surrounding the loss of power for individuals who cede knowledge to others particularly in a competitive culture such as a sales force. More research needs to be carried out into the relationship between culture and knowledge systems as well as the attitudes and motivations for people to freely share knowledge with others.

Keywords: knowledge, attitudes, chemicals, motivation, culture

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