Knowledge Management Practices at Toyota Motors

Knowledge Management Practices at Toyota Motors
Case Code: ITSY048
Case Length: 19 Pages
Period: 1943-2005
Pub Date: 2005
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Toyota
Industry: Automobiles
Countries: Japan
Themes: Information Technology
Knowledge Management Practices at Toyota Motors
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts

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. 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, 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.

Most experts believed that successful Knowledge Management (KM) had given Toyota a keen competitive edge. Toyota's Production System (TPS) manufactured a variety of high-quality vehicles at very low cost. Toyota had been extremely open about its TPS. Company sources were quoted to have said, "Study us all you want".

Still no other company was able to match Toyota's production system despite decades of effort. The world's largest automaker, General Motors (GM), entered into an alliance with Toyota to see its production systems in action and learn the intricacies, but could not match Toyota standards.

According to a study6, DaimlerChrysler, one of the "Big Three" auto firms, acknowledged that its KM initiatives had been actually inspired by Toyota's Yokoten8 system...

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