Knowledge management in the value chain

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Knowledge management in the value chain is A tool to establish a culture of learning and sharing for the mutual benefit of all partcipants in an inter-organisational environment


Knowledge management in the value chain represents a new approach to working with suppliers and other stakeholders by acknowledging the mutual advantages of managing knowledge collectively for the benefit of all of the organisations involved.

Such a philosophy contrasts with predominant approaches to supply chain models, e.g. lean manufacturing with its emphasis on Lean Manufacturing principles stress defining value in terms of importance to the customer and eliminating any wasteful activities; that is, those activities the customer does not find valuable.



To establish a culture of learning and sharing for the mutual benefit of all participants in an inter-organisational environment.

Beneficiaries and other stakeholders

Skill requirements

Some experience of multi-organizational partnerships is needed to facilitate knowledge management in the value chain as is the need to be a highly skilled chair of such an environment.


  1. One of the parties will need to co-ordinate the activites to plan and facilitate the programme of knowledge management in the value chain ;
  2. Establish a Sharing protocol;
  3. Create an online platform to act as a Hub for the programme;
  4. Pioritise the knowledge that needs to be managed on behalf of the entire value chain;
  5. Create KM roles and appoint people to fulfill them;
  6. Establish any KM measurement indicators necessary to evaluate success.


Case studies:

Critical success factors

Competing with knowledge

  1. All parties benefit from knowledge sharing activities with suppliers and customers;
  2. There are sustainable win-win propositions along the entire value chain;
  3. KM leadership and learning competencies exist throughout the value chain.

Enabling environments

  1. Senior Management in all participating organisations support the programme;
  2. KM in the value chain is a philosophy that is legitimized in all organisations;
  3. There is an effective communication strategy in place to help promulgate the philsophy.

Managing the partnership

  1. Analysis has been undertaken to assess where to prioritise KM efforts for the mutual gain of all participants;
  2. Easy to use tools are available to lower the barriers to entry;
  3. Good practice has been identified to support partners to apply them;
  4. There is a transparent funding model behind the programme;
  5. Roles and responsibilities have been defined;
  6. Security, confidentiality and intellectual property issues have been addressed.

ICT Infrastructure

  1. Where possible use existing tools within the partnership. Where they do not yet exist, make sure all members of the value chain contribute to the user and functional specifications;
  2. Ensure that communities of practice can be supported in this mult-organisational environment.

Gauging results

  1. Identify both tangible and intangible success criteria; ensure that all stakeholders understand the possibilities and the limitations to the ways of KM measurement.

Hints and tips



Other related documents

Training materials


Related articles

A Sharing protocol will help to establish ownership and transparency of ways of working in the value chain;

KM Measurement offers options for assessing progress and success.