Purposeful combination: Management of Knowledge Integration in the Development of Self-Driving Cars

Project: Dissertation

Project Details


Knowledge integration theory frames outputs of firm activity as a combination of multiple individuals’ knowledge. Previous research have greatly advanced our understanding of the management of knowledge integration by exploring the influence of various problem characteristics. This study attempts to contribute to an alternative, more strategic, approach in which knowledge integration is treated as a goal-oriented process and defined as the purposeful combination of knowledge.

A central theme in the empirical material was that individuals appeared to synthesize three thematic kinds of knowledge (technological, organizational, and commercial) to solve problems in alignment with the objectives of Omega. Moreover, this kind of knowledge typically involved references to both firm-specific and industry-specific aspects of how to manage knowledge integration. This prompted the approach of applying additional theory regarding the business idea (including business models) and industry recipe in a knowledge integration framework. The resulting analysis produced several findings which are quite novel, relative to prior research on knowledge integration. First, the study explores the knowledge-foundation of the business idea and the industry recipe. Second, the study illustrates how this kind of knowledge was applied by individuals for the purpose of solving problems in alignment with the objectives of a firm. Third, the novel concepts of ‘business idea evolution’ and ‘industry recipe evolution’ were developed to capture how such knowledge was observed to continually evolve during the Omega-case. Fourth, the approach of applying literature on the business idea, business model, and industry recipe in a knowledge integration framework was found to have benefits in both directions.

The resulting picture is a more strategic perspective on the management of knowledge integration. A conclusion from this study, therefore, is that the conventional approach of studying the influence from various problem characteristics (the ‘characteristic-driven mode’) needs to be complemented by an alternative mode of explaining the management of knowledge integration: the ‘objective-driven mode.’ In this objective-driven mode, a firm’s ‘strategic context’ (i.e., the objectives and the circumstances for achieving these objectives) is central to the question of how and how not to integrate knowledge effectively.

Layman's description

Firms need to combine knowledge to solve problems. For example, related to development of new products, interactions with customers, and the organization of its internal process. In this process of knowledge integration, a certain type of knowledge appears to be applied by individuals to solve problems in alignment with the objectives of a firm. This knowledge can be described as the 'business idea', when related to the particular firm, and as the 'industry recipe', when related to a particular industry. My research investigates the knowledge-foundation of these concepts and their role in the management of knowledge integration.
Short titlePurposeful Combination
Effective start/end date2015/03/012022/11/30

UKÄ subject classification

  • Business Administration