Critically evaluate, discuss as well as compare and contrast the “knowledge-as-possession view” and the “knowledge-as-practice view” in relation to an organisation of your choice in the automotive industry (MERCEDES-BENZ). Furthermore, in relation to an organisation of your choice in the automotive industry, discuss the meaning of these two schools of thought in relation to managing innovation in supply chains, whilst relating this to some of the innovation and relationship management concepts discussed in the lectures and seminars throughout this module.
abstract 100 words + introduction 100 words + main body 1200 words + conclusion 100 words
Total 1500 words (Not include Title & Reference list)
Please pay particular attention to the structure of your report, the English language, and referencing.
Presentation format: Structured business report
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Today’s corporate world is experiencing tremendous changes as a result of technological advancement, globalization, and the adoption of new managerial structures. Because of these changes, corporations are required to take adequate steps in managing knowledge within their environments. The Mercedes Benz company has used both “knowledge-as-possession” and “knowledge-as-practice” perspectives in managing information in the supply chain system. As illustrated in this paper, the latter ensures perpetuation and improvement of ideas, whereas the former serves to preserve the sanctity, originality, and authenticity of the innovations presented by the perceived possessors of the knowledge.
Key words: knowledge, possession, practice, perspective, management
Organization of Knowledge in the Mercedes Benz Company: “Knowledge as Possession” View and “Knowledge as Practice” View
Today’s corporate world has been swept with tremendous changes such as technological advancement, heightened global trade and competition, and new managerial structures. As a result of these changes, every Ivy League corporation in the automotive industry, in particular, is required to adequately organize knowledge within its environment. There are ideally two primary epistemologies of knowledge and they include; “knowledge as possession” and “knowledge as practice” (Filstad & Blåka, 2007). In the organization and management of knowledge in the Mercedes Benz Company, knowledge is viewed both as a possession that is developed and credited to certain individuals, as well as, an interpersonal tool that is achievable through relations and connections with others.
“Knowledge-as-possession view” appertains to the handling of knowledge as a possession that resides within an individual’s mental resource. That knowledge is ideally developed and applied for usage in bettering effectiveness in the workplace (Haugland, 2012). This form of knowledge is viewed as being synonymous with tacit knowledge (Haugland, 2012). The perspective herein is that the subject matter knowledge cannot be formally reproduced for the purpose of sharing with others since it cannot be explained in words (Filstad & Blåka, 2007). It is highly personalized in nature and it is based on the individualized experiences, practical works, and unique contexts in question (Filstad & Blåka, 2007). This form of organization of knowledge as a possession has been in existent in the Mercedes Benz Company from as far back as its foundational years. Essentially, to an extent, the company has had the belief that knowledge is borne by certain individuals. This perspective is ingrained in the culture and history of the company. For instance, Karl Benz, one of the co-founders of the Mercedes Benz Company was credited as the first innovator to create a modern automobile (Adler, 2008). This was a three-legged and gasoline-powered automobile. This was the first of a series of innovations that he created individually. The company later came to hire innovative designers who were viewed as the owners of knowledge in the company. One such designer was Dr. Ferdinand Porche. He has individually and solely been credited for the creation of the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK (Adler, 2008). The Mercedes SSK was an evolution of a model he had also created in 1927 (Adler, 2008). Dr. Ferdinand Porche was viewed as a top designer for the company and his designs were ideally not transmitted to other individuals within the company. This is also partly because of the fact that in due time, he sought to carry his ideas with him and venture on his own. After designing his SSK model, he left the Mercedes Benz Company and started his own automotive company.
“Knowledge-as-practice view,” on the other hand, relates to the handling of knowledge as a tool that has been constructed and negotiated in the course of social interactions (Filstad & Blåka, 2007).). In this perspective, knowledge is explicit, systematic, transparent, and universal (Filstad & Blåka, 2007). It is capable of being put in writing or codes and consequently stored and reused (Filstad & Blåka, 2007). Communication and explanations can be given to anyone who desires to acquire the knowledge and has some basic understanding of the topic in question (Haugland, 2012). This view of knowledge has overtime been strongly adopted in the Mercedes Benz Company. It is, in fact, arguable that the outlook of knowledge as a possession has slowly waned away. Within the past half-a-decade, it is apparent that no single novelty design has been credited to any single designer. The company has made it apparent that various design teams often come together to create magnificent automobiles (Long, 2015). The Chief design officer at the company is Gorden Wargener (Long, 2015). He works together with his international team to ensure that the exquisite designs have been produced (Long, 2015).
Incorporation of the two Perspectives in the Management of Innovation in the Supply Chain System of the Company
In the wake of the globalization of automotive companies, the Mercedes Benz Company has not been left behind. Although its headquarters is in Stuttgart, Germany, the company now has operations in different parts of the world. It then follows that there are design teams in the distinctive locations. If the company had strictly followed the knowledge-as-possession perspective, a paralysis would occur in the wake of globalization since ideas would remain monopolized. The movement towards the knowledge-as-practice outlook is advantageous because it assures perpetuation, growth, and improvement of ideas. As Markus Schafer, an official therein puts it, the company has been making huge innovations and due to the global demand it has experienced, the company has sought to establish an intelligent network of production plants (Ludwig, 2018). Essentially, in response to the global demand for their products, the company has had to incorporate the knowledge-as-practice view into its supply chain system.
In line with Mercedes Benz Company’s perspective of knowledge-as-practice, ideas are developed and shared amongst the design team members (Ludwig, 2018). Because of the global nature of the company’s operations as illustrated above, there has been a need to shift from a transport-focused supply chain system to a global end-to-end supply chain system (Ludwig, 2018). Every plant looks at the inherent demands and from that point of departure, capacity planning, purchasing, outbound logistics, and vehicle logistics are done (Ludwig, 2018). Because of the high demand it has been experiencing, Mercedes Benz Company has sought to establish a network of production plants. This technically means that concepts will be widely shared and the production teams will work together closely to ensure the completion of the projects in due time. Essentially, the company acknowledges that knowledge is a construct of social interactions (Ludwig, 2018).
From the time a concept is being developed, the design team works in close collaboration with the R&D personnel so as to ascertain the production flexibility from the onset. This means that from the point of the creation of the design, the production aspect is considered and addressed thereto. The company’s inclination towards the knowledge-as-practice perspective has a direct effect on the management of innovation in the supply chain system. Information is treated as explicit, and it is communicated to the respective personnel who have a basic understanding of the project in question.
The knowledge-as-possession perspective is, however, manifested in the Mercedes Benz Company through the incorporation of network optimization in the supply chain system. Through the process, the respective personnel at the different stages in the supply chain receive the prerequisite information regarding the innovation being developed and after the receipt, they do their part in ensuring the completion of the project. For instance, the personnel charged with the task of producing and supplying different vehicles are given the respective designs for the specific parts that are to be reproduced (Ludwig, 2018). They are not given the entire design of the vehicle. This means that certain aspects of knowledge with respect to the novelty innovation being produced remain in the purview of only the design team. It is important to note herein that the company has 32 assembly and component parts and the company’s industrial network is operated through these divisions (Ludwig, 2018). Each division receives guidelines on the respective parts being produced. However, the entire designs/ innovations remain with the design team. Through this mode of operation, it is apparent that the company still holds on to the perspective of knowledge as a possession.
The company has significantly moved to foster digitalization in its operational system as well as in its supply chain system. From the point of design to development, and to production, the company is working towards ensuring that there is a consistent movement towards digitalization (Ludwig, 2018). The company’s digitalization ideal leads to the advancement of both the knowledge as possession and knowledge-as-practice ideals. As a result of digitalization, for instance, the company has commenced the use of robots in the development and production stages of the supply chain process (Ludwig, 2018). Although currently the use of robots and human resource is synchronized since the development and production process is done either by the employees or by the robots, there is an inherent fear that the continued usage of robots will likely have an adverse effect on human resource. As illustrated above, the knowledge-as-practice perspective acknowledges that knowledge is developed and well-understood through daily practice and social connections primarily between humans. If gradually, the robots replace human resource, it is imperative that knowledge will no longer be shared as envisaged by the aforementioned perspective. It is therefore arguable that through the use of robots, the company is gradually moving towards partially or holistically adopting the knowledge as possession view.
Technological advancement, heightened global trade and competition, and new managerial structures have significantly changed the management of knowledge in automobile companies. There are two primary perspectives that are used in the management of knowledge in the Mercedes Benz Company and they include; “knowledge as possession” and “knowledge as practice.” The latter lays emphasis on the fact that knowledge ought to be within the purview of a certain class of people within the organization, whereas, the former pays credence to the fact that knowledge is well developed in the course of social interactions. These two ideas are equally used in the management of innovation in the company’s supply chain system.
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Ludwig, C. (2018). Mercedes-Benz: Taking an end-to-end Approach. Automotive Logistics. Retrieved from