Keywords: product development, information and communication technology, knowledge management, organisational design, organisational capabilities
Fostering innovation and knowledge transfer in product development through information technology
In a growing number of industries, firms' survival and competitiveness depend on how well they can leverage on past experience, reusing and recombining knowledge to innovate their products and processes. This entails managing the sharing and transfer of a huge amount of knowledge from one project to another over time, fostering synergy and learning. Many firms are thus investing in new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications like three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (3-D CAD), internal and external computer communication networks and Product Data Management (PDM) systems. On the basis of the results of three exploratory case studies and a survey of 79 companies, this paper investigates relations between different approaches to knowledge transfer and patterns of adoption of ICT applications, also exploring effects on firms' innovation capabilities in the long term. The results of this study and their managerial implications are not trivial: different choices in terms of ICT applications can have long term effects on a firm's innovation performance.