Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
Analyzing organizational knowledge and learning, managing the acquired knowledge and the theories have become an essential part of expanding a business as well as running the company. In this study, we are going to take the example of A.P. Moller-Maersk, which is a transport and logistics company based in New Zealand. It is a leading container shipping company on a global scale. The country operates across 130 countries. The company also has a stand-alone energy that works to develop sustainable energy.
Transport and logistics division is made of Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Damco, Maersk Container Industry and Svitzer. These try to provide the customers to trade all over the globe by enabling the global supply chains. Maersk Line is the biggest container shipping company in the world. The company is popular for its reliability and has 639 ships in its fleet. The company covers all the major marine trade routes across the world. APM offers port services and inland transportation; and currently works in 73 ports in 46 different countries. Damco is the global leader in supply chain management, which aims to simplify complex supply chains. The container division specializes in manufacturing refrigerated containers and refrigeration systems, which are used by leading food industries.
Managing the knowledge that a company gains over time is very important to stay on top of the chain and being better than the competitors.
B. Situations that trigger the chosen organization’s need to focus on organizational learning:
In accordance with the growing customer awareness and posh marketplaces supply, chain hierarchies and strategies have incorporated significant changes in order to modify and expand the scope of supply chain management (SCM). Moreover, A.P. Moller-Maersk is prone to outsource the functionality of the supply chain, which encourages several virtual supply chain frameworks, which enables the concern to adjust with the global competitive atmosphere (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). This change is followed by an elevation of value hierarchy where the focus of the orientation shifted to an information intensive one since knowledge is accredited as a core competency. A.P. Moller-Maersk, being a Third Party Logistics (3PLs) provider, addressed this trend of outsourcing non-core activities by introducing a range of value-added chain services (inventory management, warehousing etc) in order to derive benefit (Brown, Colville & Pye, (2015). Apart from that, the dissemination of web technologies and advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an integral tool has turned the entire 3PL market more competitive and knowledge intensive.
C. Identifying and analyzing the factors and situations that makes for the ideal environment for the organization to be a learning organization
Several things can help an organization to become a learning organization, which helps them to innovate new things. Organizational learning is a process that happens gradually. While newer ways of thinking is essential for learning, behavioral change can also prove to be important. Properly processing accumulated information is also an important aspect for an organization to learn newer things. New ideas are essential if one wants to learn. These ideas trigger an organization to improve (Donate, & de Pablo, 2015).
An organization can also help the employees to learn new things by giving those rewards and promoting their achievements. This helps the employee to specialize in a specific field and increasingly get better at it. The organization has to remember that these learning are not only for the current employees. It must not happen that when an employee leaves the company, the learning’s leave with him. Collective learning must stay within the company framework and keep influencing the future employees as well. Every new idea must be absorbed in the company.
Facing challenges always help a company to come up with new plans and innovative ideas to overcome obstacles. Whenever an organization is faced with some problem that it has not experienced before, it must either succumb to a standstill situation or must find ways to solve the problem and keep working in the industry and maybe even gain a competitive advantage over the others (Galliers & Leidner, 2014).
Modern requirements like providing services in such a way so that the environment is not affected adversely. This need to sustain the environmental balance prompted the Maersk to develop new ways to manufacture their containers and refrigeration system so that they do not harm the ecosystem.
D. Shortcomings of the organization based on previous discussions:
As per the sustainability report provided by the company in 2012, seventeen people lost their lives because of operational casualty, which can be included in the rubric of drawbacks. Though the addressee of the report has portrayed it with sincere empathy, it is very evident from the incident that the firm has not employed enough responsibility to the declared commitment of the safety of the employees. This callous attitude of the management towards the proclaimed vision of zero fatality can be cited as a potential drawback of the firm (Islam, Ahmad Kassim, Ali & Sadiq, 2014).
In addition, the enterprise needs to improve the interface of information exchange in order to bridge the communicational gap. The inability of the employees to process the information when needed can also be cited as a potential drawback since it is degrading for the status of the company and reflects the lack of educational awareness among the employees.
The enterprise shows sheer indifference to appreciate the individual accomplishment, which potentially discourage the employees to address missions of higher excellence. Moreover, it undermines the spirit of the employee to explore his/her specific academic interests, which have the potential to serve the performance statistics of the firm.
Climate change is a global concern and every enterprise is expected to comply with it, whereas, there are flagrant evidences within the working environment, which depicts a disappointing, compromise with eco-sustainability ethics (Obeidat, Al-Dmour & Tarhini, 2015). Although A.P. Moller-Maersk exhibits a prompt increase in the energy efficiency, they need to focus a little bit more regarding this issue, which heralds the leap forward towards new ambitions of energy efficiency.
E. How can the organization adopt or develop on these factors to boost organizational learning:
The enterprise that deliberately establishes and tailors policies and patterns, which is associated with Organizational learning outcomes, have been labeled as Learning Organizations. The features of the learning enterprise is illustrated as an enterprise which advocates the academic objectives of all its staffs and transforming itself continually (Pantouvakis & Bouranta, 2013). In addition to that, organizational learning is associated with the brewing knowledge and hence is regarded an elaborated process of knowledge development, creation and transformation. In accordance with the attitude towards business performance, this will be a cardinal one to take into account the outcome of all the performance activities and statistics of the enterprise. It can be extracted from the attached literature on this specific field that the directive blend of the current project is of supreme significance. The financial performance is referred as datum for consistent sustainability in a competitive global atmosphere (Rahman, Rahman, Ali & Khan, 2016). In addition to that, rivalry in the sense of a broader datum for relative competitive facility can be illustrated as foundation for the exclusive right to sustain. It can be concluded that it is significant to distribute the motto all around the methods and activities are pointed at, which should bring the durable relative competitiveness of the corresponding organization.
F. Stimulants of organizational learning in the organization
Every organization strives to become better than their peers and get an edge over the others by constantly coming up with and developing on internal improvement programs. The failure rate of these programs often seem to outweigh the success rate as most companies often fail to realize that the basic tenet of running a successful improvement campaign lies in an eagerness and commitment to learning new things to grow and become better, then it must learn new things. This learning has to be done in both an individual scale a well as a cumulative sense for a whole company (Meek & Marshall, 2014).
Maersk relies heavily on innovation and invests a lot in the R&D department, as it knows very well that applying new knowledge and coming up with new things can prove to be pivotal for holding the top seat in the industry. Business opportunities and curtailing cost can be achieved through proper implementations of the gained knowledge and innovating new ways to manufacture the goods or the services provided. This strive to staying on top has helped Maersk to build the world’s largest ship, and introducing nanotechnology in the oil industry, which have helped them to expand even further.
G. Contemporary issues and opportunities faced by the organization for knowledge management
As big as a company can get, and as successful, it can be, it will always be facing some issues that they have to either solve or keep a check on. As a company expands, it has keep in mind about an increasing amount of topics so that allegations of unethical work do not arise against them. Ethical and moral issues have become the biggest problem for any organization in today’s world. Companies have to make marketing plans in such ways so that no breach of international, national, or local regulations is not breached and they must abide by international laws. This is even more relevant for companies that have their business all over the world.
Transportation and logistics industry has to face more stringent regulations as compared to other industries. This is due to the fact they have to provide goods and services all over and have to cross international land, maritime and air borders on a daily basis. Remembering to follow international law is paramount.
Modern threats are increasingly becoming a huge problem to run the business in a proper manner. A recent cyber attack against Maersk’s software has prevented the company from accepting new orders and that caused a huge delay in cargo shipments. Mumbai to Los Angeles port operations was disrupted. Evidently, 76 ports run by Maersk systems have been hit by the attack, made the company unable to take orders and had to take down orders that arrived just before the attack. Problems faced at the US ports regarding their failure to accommodate large ships are another problem that has become a headache for Maersk. With an increasing marine congestion, it is becoming hard to deliver the goods to the customers on time. Constantly evolving customer needs is another aspect that is making the company re-evaluate its manufacturing process non-stop. Safety of the crew and the cargo while on the sea is something that has repeatedly harmed the company and its goods. One of the biggest issues that the company has to face is the question of unethical dumping of discharges on the seawater, which is said to harm the ecosystem irreversibly.
The company is aiming to expand to the oil industry by purchasing Iranian oil fields and mining with their own equipments and helping the other divisions to make up for the loss. The company is also planning to purchase ports in America and build infrastructure according to their own needs so that no more delays or problems would be caused.
H. Recommendations to exploit the above mentioned opportunities
It is of utmost importance that a company should exploit all the opportunities it can see in order to expand its business and increase profitability. Devising out market plans based on proper market surveys and then chalking out the required path to achieve the envisioned goals is all part of the game.
Maersk should employ experts on oil drilling and acquire the proper equipments needed if they are seriously considering about becoming a well-known face in the oil industry. In order to ensure the customers of timely delivery of the goods, they have to invest heavily in the American ports so that those can support the huge freights (Holtshouse, 2013). The company should also invest into developing the security of the ships and crew while they are on the sea, while they are carrying the goods from one port to another. Maersk also has to look into the upgrading their software so it is less vulnerable to hacking and ceases to cause disruption to the company’s order taking and logistics. But expansion of business should be the primal criteria and hence the infrastructure development is the first thing that the company has to focus on. The company is also planning to expand its land transportation.
I. Knowledge management tools and knowledge management resources used by the organization:
Knowledge management is the process of delivering the relevant information to the right person. Even though this does not seem as a very complex thing, integrating the employees with the company in a proper way is a very strenuous thing to achieve (Chua & Banerjee, 2013). Knowledge management also means that all the knowledge acquired by the members have to be shared among all the other employees and the organizational members. Knowledge refinement is another important aspect that cannot be overlooked by any means. It must be kept in mind that knowledge should not just be accumulated for the sake of it. Cumulative knowledge has to serve the purpose of the company as an entity.
There are several layers of knowledge management.
- Strategy: Corporate strategy must dictate knowledge management strategy.
- Organizational culture: the work culture of an organization dictates how the employees would interact among themselves. This also, in a way, manages how the employees would be sharing information.
- Process of the organization: This includes the environments, systems and processes that help the knowledge to be implemented into the organization.
- Managing the leadership: Proper implementation of knowledge calls for effective leadership in all the levels; from the management to the workers.
- Technology: The different tools that an organization uses to help the knowledge to be used in a proper way.
Knowledge management resources are the origin points of the knowledge that help to articulate the gained knowledge in a proper way.
- Cross-functional project teams
- Knowledge management training and educating
- Mentoring the staff and the management members
J. Effectiveness of the tools and resources:
The A.P. Moller-Maersk which is contextually tied with Knowledge Management operations in this present study governs the creation, identification, dissemination and leveraging of data to fathom the desired objectives of the enterprise. Knowledge Management (KM) is an analytical framework within which the organization monitors all its methods. The potential challenge that is present ahead is to ally KM with the familiar aspects of business (Winkler & Fyffe, 2016).
The specific aspects can be evaluated directly, or required to be aligned with the resources of knowledge that they transmit and consume. The four significant processes that can be exploited to evaluate the intangible resources are the Economic Value Added method, balanced scorecard method, Human Resources Accounting Method and the Intellectual Capital Method.
K. Strategies of knowledge management
Knowledge management is an intangible component of any management strategy, which, as per numerous scholarly accounts, enables enterprises to develop an innovative and unique status of balanced performance and optimum productivity without breaching the criteria of quality. Knowledge-based management requires essential information whose legitimacy has been evaluated through various trustworthy evidences, and therefore is devoid of frigid opinions and speculations. Knowledge is a potential tool to promote operational efficiency, which enables the enterprise to develop organizational competence for dynamic capability (Wheelen & Hunger, 2017). Usually knowledge management can be resolved into two segments of a method: that is, Acquisition or creation of knowledge and Integration or application of knowledge. In recent days, logistic sectors like A.P. Moller-Maersk shade a great deal of attention in knowledge management in order to implement crucial logistics operation which allows the firm to integrate itself into the entire logistics system easily. This concludes that the transportation unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk, which is considered crucial in the global logistics networks, can also optimize its innovative productivity through exploiting the knowledge management system effectively (Wang, Noe & Wang, 2014).
Knowledge can be contextually categorized into two kinds as Market-specific and Firm specific, which potentially encourages the typical enterprises to expand their scope in order to gain a competitive advantage in the global market. Market-specific knowledge usually entail the data about corresponding industries such as prevalent business practices, emerging trends, evolving customer demands, governmental protocols and the strategic traits of adversaries. Firm-specific knowledge usually embarks on specific operational technology, expertise and efficiency of the workers and useful information about the organizational practices. A pedantic awareness of these two sorts of knowledge will facilitates the enterprise to sharpen their competitive capabilities in order to cope with the rapidly evolving business environment skillfully.
External sources of knowledge such as inter-organizational coordination are gradually earning significance since it serves the faculty of information through prudent cooperative encounters such as maintaining a virtual network in the social sites. With the accredited informational advantages of this virtual coordination, network embededness is considered as the prime source of knowledge creation for logistics concerns like A.P. Moller-Maersk. The business chains of A.P. Moller-Maersk have grown intricate with changed patterns since the operators started enjoying the coalition both vertically and horizontally (Recently, A.P. Moller-Maersk is able to develop a status of port terminal operators). The worldwide expansions of shipping channels facilitated the hub, spoke model to enhance the alliances among ports, and altogether significantly influences the business transactions of freight forwarders. Therefore, it can be concluded that the cooperation enhances exchange of services and information and eventually enhances the business performance of the enterprise by improving effectiveness and efficiency.