Knowledge Management Practices at Toyota Motors|IT and Systems|Case Study|Case Studies

Knowledge Management Practices at Toyota Motors

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Case Details:

Case Code : ITSY048
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 1943-2005
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Toyota
Industry : Automobiles
Countries : Japan

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"Toyota does not have a separate Knowledge Management philosophy and strategy; managing and sharing knowledge are a part of everyday life at Toyota."

- Rory Chase (Chase), Managing Director, Teleos.1

"I believe Toyota has raised continuous improvement and employee involvement to a unique level, creating one of the few examples of a genuine learning enterprise in human history - not a small accomplishment."

- Jeffrey K. Liker (Liker), Director, Japan Technology Management Program, University of Michigan.2

Knowledge as Power

In 2004 Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) was Japan's largest company and the world's second largest automobile company with worldwide unit sales of 6.7 million.3 It was recognized as one of the world's best knowledge enterprises, and was a three-time winner of the Global Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) Survey 4, and a five-time winner of the MAKE Japan Survey. This award recognizes best practices in the area of Knowledge Management. The survey studied enterprises on criteria like knowledge-based culture and products; knowledge sharing and collaboration; as well as organizational learning (Refer Exhibit I for details of the performance dimensions).

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1] Teleos is an independent Knowledge Management research company based in the United Kingdom. It conducts the MAKE Survey in association with the KNOW network since 1998. The Survey identifies Top 20 enterprises in the area of Knowledge Management.

2] Jeffery K Liker, "The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer," McGraw-Hill, 2003. The book is based on the author's research on Toyota spanning 20 years.

3] General Motors (GM) is the biggest automobile company in the world in terms of unit sales. GM's unit sales for the year 2004 were 8.2 million.

4] The MAKE Survey is conducted by The KNOW Network which is a global community of knowledge-driven organizations dedicated to sharing best Knowledge Management practices.

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