B&Q Case Study

10 October 2016

As data and information are readily available, and information communication technology (ICT) has highly advanced, organizations such as B&Q need to understand how knowledge creation can assist to improve internal and external processes and also encourage innovation. In task one, the aim is to differentiate between possession of knowledge and practice of knowledge and examine which epistemology B&Q uses throughout their supply chain. B&Q uses possession knowledge whereby it provides all their vendors with a code of conduct guidelines which they need to follow through.

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Knowledge is defined as “awareness, consciousness, or familiarity gained by experience or learning” (knowledge, n. d) which are the ways people in a social situations would understand and make sense of where they are and what they are doing. When knowledge is conducted and embraced in an organization, it will result to a group of people who develop shared beliefs, behaviours and routines that shape organization capabilities. Experts such as Polanyi (1966), Nonaka (1994) and Cook and Brown (1999) divide knowledge into two categories called tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is associated with the skills or know-how that people developed through their own experience in specific contexts. Whereas explicit knowledge is something that has been codified, written down or spelled out and is communicable across context. 1. 2 Possession and practice From the word possession itself, one can understand that it is about the knowledge that people have in their mind (Cook and Brown, 1999). Blackler (1995), and Cook and Brown (1999) refer possesion of knowledge as “knowledge” and practice of knowledge as “knowing”.

Knowledge is a mental or cognitive capacity which is hierarchical in nature and comprises of data, information etc. moreover, possession of knowledge is a personal property where people render meaning from subjective experiences, perceptions and previous understanding. As human minds are individually unique, hence different people may perceive and intepret the same information or data differently. Meanwhile, practice of knowledge sees knowledge as something that it developed through social interaction such as project work, group assignment or group discussion.

When people practice knowledge, they convert tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, thus transferring knowledge from one person to another. This is done through sharing stories, experiences or creating norms to a group of people hence enabling the experience of an individual to be related to a wider community. 3. 3 B&Q case B&Q plc works with many vendors such as Kingfisher Asia (KAL) who supply products to B&Q. Hence to manage their vendors and ensure processes and procedures are followed, B&Q come up with code of conduct (B&Q Operational Standards for Supply Chains) for all their vendors.

The code of conduct is based on the international labour and envirnmental standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions which factories and worksites of all vendors throughout the world need to comply to. In summary, vendors need to let B&Q have full visibility of the enitre supply chain and fulfill and obey the code of conduct criteria at all facilities. Any failure to meet the nine Critical Failure Points (CFPs) will result in B&Q not buying or purchasing their products.

Through this code of conduct, we can deduce that B&Q adopts a possession of knowledge rather than practice of knowledge. B&Q receives knowledge about labour and environmental guidelines from ILO conventions and uses the basic context to write down or capture in an information technology (IT) system which is then made available as an organizational resource – B&Q Operational Standards for Supply Chains. This is in contrast of having a group discussion with the vendors and seeking their opinions and views on how to create a better working environment for the workers (practice of knowledge).

For example, Baer (1987) and Abbott (1988) explained that in order to defend their position, occupational groups such as doctors would write down or ‘black box’ their skills and knowledge which is then used by others as guidelines or instructions to follow. B&Q is following the same concept as they wish to guard their position as a responsible organization or employer where the rights of all workers throughout the world are respected and protected. Thus, this results to an encoded knowledge (Blackler, 1995) for the vendors as information is transmited through the code of conduct.

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