Practices to Promote Organizational Knowledge: a Case Study in a Mining Company
During the last two decades of the last century, new conceptual approaches in the field of Strategic Management have highlighted intangible assets, especially information and knowledge, as the basis for generating and sustaining competitive advantage. This paper aims to describe routines that foster organizational knowledge in a mining company located in Brazil. Nine managers from the following departments were interviewed: Technological Development, in charge of knowledge management in the organization; Human Resources, Communications and Marketing, directly related to employees and stakeholders´ knowledge; Industrial Engineering and Industrial Automation for their relation to the innovation in the manufacturing process; and Mining and Processing departments, since they represent the core business of the company. A qualitativedescriptive approach was applied in the research. Semi-structured interviews were used in order to collect primary data. The company’s managers were asked to identify routines that promote the creation, acquisition, codification, sharing, usage and protection of knowledge. Those interviews were recorded and transcribed. Internal documents were also used to describe the routines. Routines that promote organizational knowledge in the researched company are strongly aligned to the strategic outcomes and to the consequent critical knowledge necessary to achieve them. Considerable efforts have been made by the company regarding technology, compensation and structure in order to support the routines. Those investments reveal the importance of a strong commitment of the top managers to the knowledge management. The company recognizes the competitive advantage it gains by utilizing its employees as a source of information and knowledge. Despite this awareness and all measures connected to effectively implement routines which maximize the creation of internal information, the information sharing process lacks efficiency. The resistance of employees in sharing information brings up the relationship between knowledge and power. Among the organizational aspects that permeate all routines it is possible to highlight interdisciplinary work, financial and material support and financial and symbolic rewards.
Information, Organizational Knowledge, Routines, Organizational Learning.