Harnessing the Firm-specific Knowledge of the Maintenance Workforce for Organizational Competitiveness
This paper argues, with the support of the empirical data from five case-study firms, that maintenance workers can play a key role in advancing technology used by their firm and contributing to its long-term competitiveness. Maintenance workers can contribute their firm-specific knowledge which they gain from their experience of working with the equipment in two ways: by providing feedback on asset performance to other departments/firms who design, select or install new technology/equipment; and by making the newly introduced and/or existing technology more suitable to the working environment. Yet, this valuable potential of maintenance employees is rarely appropriated by firms, of which many are enthusiastically seeking additional competitiveness. If 'learning by doing' is an important way for firms to learn and to compete, then this wider role of the maintenance workforce should be harnessed by firms that seek long-term competitiveness.