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A Prototype Method and Tool to Facilitate Knowledge Sharing in the New Product Development Process

By D. J. Bradfield

Abstract

New Product Development (NPD) plays a critical role in the success of manufacturing firms. Activities in the product development process are dependent on the exchange of knowledge among NPD project team members. Increasingly, many organisations consider effective knowledge sharing to be a source of competitive advantage. However, the sharing of knowledge is often inhibited in various ways. This doctoral research presents an exploratory case study conducted at a multinational physical goods manufacturer. This investigation uncovered three, empirically derived and theoretically informed, barriers to knowledge sharing. They have been articulated as the lack of an explicit definition of information about the knowledge used and generated in the product development process, and the absence of mechanisms to make this information accessible in a multilingual environment and to disseminate it to NPD project team members. Collectively, these barriers inhibit a shared understanding of product development process knowledge. Existing knowledge management methodologies have focused on the capture of knowledge, rather than providing information about the knowledge and have not explicitly addressed issues regarding knowledge sharing in a multilingual environment. This thesis reports a prototype method and tool to facilitate knowledge sharing that addresses all three knowledge sharing barriers. Initially the research set out to identify and classify new product development process knowledge and then sought to determine what information about specific knowledge items is required by project teams. Based on the exploratory case findings, an ontology has been developed that formally defines information about this knowledge and allows it to be captured in a knowledge acquisition tool, thereby creating a knowledge base. A mechanism is provided to permit language labels to be attached to concepts and relations in the ontology, making it accessible to speakers of different languages. A dissemination tool allows the ontology and knowledge base to be viewed via a Web browser client. Essentially, the ontology and mechanisms facilitate a knowledge sharing capability. Some initial validation was conducted to better understand implementation issues and future deployment of the prototype method and tool in practice

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk:1826/4767
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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