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Challenges of managing knowledge at SUAN and CINI: Same or Different?*

CASE STUDY, STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT
ET Cases - GSMC, 16 Pages

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Challenges of Managing Knowledge at SUAN and CINI: Same or Different?

 

As the acupuncturist in Kolkata’s1 China Town was carefully inserting the needles into his back, Mr. Subrata Roy (hereinafter Roy), male 60, breathed a sigh of relief as after many days he got some time to reflect upon the recent happenings in his company Suan Scientific Instruments and Equipments (commonly known as SUAN; URL: http://www.suanscientific.com/), a small but leading manufacturing firm specializing in laboratory instruments and food processing machines. One of the key issues  confronting SUAN was its inability in pursuing all the sales requests pouring in from potential clients. As per Roy’s own estimates, SUAN was being able to cater to only  one fourth of the market demands. Constrained by different organizational limitations, in terms of both capability and capacity, Roy was almost being forced to turn down sales orders from interested parties on a regular basis and it has been bothering him for quite some time now.

Although SUAN, the organization that he started back in 1987, had been cruising on a growth trajectory as of 2014, Roy was feeling annoyed. The reason behind such a feeling was that, for the first time in the last decade or so, he was facing some issues for which he could not find a ready solution. By nature Roy would try to find the  solution to a problem within hours of confronting it. But now his ways of getting things done were not helping him much. The work pressure was so high that he could not afford to go on a bedrest even for a few days, as was suggested by one of the top orthopaedic specialists in the city, to recuperate from a chronic back pain he was suffering from and instead had to rather rely on acupuncture in search for a quick fix. But just like his health he was getting convinced that SUAN would also need proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment than a quick fix......................

 



1 One of the major cities in India

Teaching Note Preview

Challenges of Managing Knowledge at SUAN and CINI: Same or Different?

 

Synopsis

The theme of the case is to sensitize the participants on the criticality of organizational knowledge as well as its management. The case, developed on primary  data, uses comparative accounts of two organizations with different characteristics - one a small manufacturing firm (SUAN) with less than fifty employees and the other a large non-profit organization (CINI) with thirteen hundred employees - to highlight the criticality of organizational knowledge management capabilities (or lack of it) in ensuring growth and continuing success. The case presents some of the pressing challenges faced by the aforementioned organizations to show how these challenges stem from organizational inabilities in harnessing the full potential of knowledge residing within the organizational boundaries. In other words, these challenges can be attributed to lack of organizational focus towards knowledge management (KM). Although embedded in different sectoral  contexts, both the organizations were faced with similar set of challenges – over-dependency on some individuals, confinement of tacit knowledge in  organizational siloes, stunted ability to respond to external changes, missing opportunities, etc. – which started exerting serious pressures on the growth and  sustainability of the organizations. The case then narrates how both the organizations were contemplating undertaking of systemic approaches towards KM to effectively counter the challenges............

Case Positioning and Setting

The case can be used to introduce the concept of KM in BBA, MBA and MDP programs. It presents KM as a strategic element of organizational management and addresses the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in KM adoption. The case can be used to teach the following courses:

  • • Management Information Systems (Introduction to Knowledge Management) – Strategic Management (Introduction to Knowledge Based View of firm under Resource and Capabilities) – Entrepreneurship (Importance of KM in managing growth)

 

Assignment Questions

  • I. What are the problems of CINI indicated in the case? Try to find out the source(s)/ reasons of the problems. For each problem comment on the possible  negative impacts if the problems are left unaddressed.
  • II. What are the actions CINI undertook to address the problems? What could be some of the immediate and long term benefits?
  • III. .......................

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Abstract

The case, developed using primary data, provides comparative accounts of two organizations with different characteristics - one a small manufacturing unit (SUAN) with less than hundred employees and the other a large non-profit organization (CINI) with more than twelve hundred employees - to highlight the criticality of organizational knowledge in ensuring growth and continuing success. The case presents some of the pressing challenges faced by the aforementioned organizations to show how these challenges stem from organizational inabilities in harnessing the full potential of knowledge residing within the organizational boundaries. Put differently, these challenges can be attributed to lack of organizational focus towards knowledge management (KM). Although embedded in different business contexts, both the organizations were faced with similar challenges - over-dependency on some individuals, confinement of tacit knowledge in organizational siloes, stunted ability to respond to external changes, missing opportunities, etc., - which started exerting serious pressures on the growth and sustainability of the organizations. The case then narrates how both the organizations were contemplating undertaking of systemic KM approaches to effectively counter the challenges. Through this comparative case study, the audience/students recognize that a structured KM initiative can empower an organization (especially the ones from knowledge intensive industries) of any size to develop organizational knowledge as a strategic resource to reap sustainable competitive advantage. The case challenges some of the established notions that KM is only meant for large corporations and requires big-budget investments. The case also vouches for entrepreneurial attention towards KM from the early days of an enterprise in establishing organizational knowledge as an important strategic resource for organizational success.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • The Importance of managing knowledge efficiently within an organization
  • The concept of knowledge management (KM) and the core elements of it
  • The process of KM is expected to be different for different organizations – there can’t be one single way of managing organizational knowledge
  • Role of Information Technology in KM – Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)

Case Positioning and Setting
The case can be used to introduce the concept of KM in BBA, MBA and MDP programs. It presents KM as a strategic element of organizational management and addresses the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in KM adoption. The case can be used to teach the following courses:
Management Information Systems (Introduction to Knowledge Management) – Strategic Management (Introduction to Knowledge Based View of firm under Resource and Capabilities) – Entrepreneurship (Importance of KM in managing growth)

* GSMC 2014, IIM Raipur

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- Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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