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Knowledge-sharing enablers and barriers in pharmaceutical research and development

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PurposeBecause selling innovative products is crucial to its livelihood, the pharmaceutical industry has a fundamental need to share knowledge to stimulate the process of knowledge creation. This study seeks to explore knowledge-sharing enablers and barriers in pharmaceutical R&D. Design/methodology/approachA case study was carried out in a pharmaceutical company in Denmark. R&D professionals were asked to identify organizational enablers and barriers to knowledge sharing. Their accounts were processed as text during workshops. Data were condensed thematically. The analysis was combined with the conceptualization of tacit and explicit knowledge as proposed by Nonaka and Takeuchi. FindingsThe research shows that R&D professionals have different views and practices regarding engaging in knowledge sharing. This reveals that knowledge sharing is multi-faceted and that one standard for R&D professionals does not exist. The enablers identified recognized the use of tacit knowledge. The existence of enablers and barriers with oppositional influence on knowledge-sharing practices is evident. Furthermore, synergy is identified in the knowledge-sharing enablers provided that the settings fostering personal closeness to colleagues are stimulated. Physical proximity to colleagues therefore has obvious influence on knowledge-sharing practices. Research limitations/implicationsThis study was based on a single case study. The extent to which the findings can be generalized to other industries is unknown. Practical implicationsThe findings have implications for R&D managers who must be aware of these professional diversities in order to enhance knowledge-sharing practices. Attention should also be given to the synergies hidden in knowledge-sharing enablers. Originality/valueFocused implementation of enablers will increase knowledge-sharing practices and minimize barriers.

Keywords: Case studies; Knowledge management; Pharmaceuticals industry; Quality; Research; Research and development

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13673271111108693

Publication date: February 22, 2011

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