The role of knowledge integration in innovation and capability development

Mohannak, Kavoos & Javanmardi Kashan, Alireza (2015) The role of knowledge integration in innovation and capability development. In Spender, JC, Schiuma, Giovanni, & Albino, Vito (Eds.) Proceedings of the 10th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics: Culture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Connecting the Knowledge Dots, Bari, Italy, pp. 2319-2329.

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This paper investigates the interrelationships between knowledge integration (KI), product innovation and capability development to enhance our understanding of how firms can develop capability at the firm level, which in turn enhances their performance. One of the critical underlying mechanisms for capability building identified in the literature is the role of knowledge integration, which operates within product innovation projects and contributes to dynamic capability development. Therefore, the main research question is “how does the integration of knowledge across product innovation projects lead to the development of capability?”


We adopted a case-based approach and investigated the case of a successful firm that was able to sustain its performance through a series of product innovation projects. In particular this research focused on the role of KI and firm-level capability development over the course of four projects, during which the firm successfully managed the transformation of its product base and renewal of its competitive advantage. For this purpose an in-depth case study of capability development was undertaken at the Iran Khodro Company (IKCO), the key player in the Iranian auto industry transformation.


This research revealed that along with changes at each level of product architecture “design knowledge” and “design capability” have been developed at the same level of product architecture, leading to capability development at that level. It can be argued that along the step by step maturation of radical innovation across the four case projects, architectural knowledge and capability have been developed at the case company, resulting in the gradual emergence of a modular product and capability architecture across different levels of product architecture. Such findings basically add to extensive emphasis in the literature on the interrelationship of the concept of modularity with knowledge management and capability development.

Practical implications

Findings of this study indicate that firms manage their knowledge in accordance with the level of specialization in knowledge and capability. Furthermore, firms design appropriate knowledge integration mechanisms within and among functions in order dynamically align knowledge processes at different levels of the product architecture. Accordingly, the outcomes of this study may guide practitioners in managing their knowledge processes, through dynamically employing knowledge integration modes step-by-step and from the part level to the architectural level of product architecture across a sequence of product innovation projects to encourage learning and radical innovation.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 86751
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Knowledge Integration, Capability Development, Product Innovation, Auto-industry, Case Study
ISBN: 9788896687079
ISSN: 2280-787X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2015 06:43
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2015 15:00

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