Managing supply chain knowledge-based linkages for improving operational performance

Marianna Marra, William Ho, Ka Man Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to explore the role of internal and external knowledgebased linkages across the supply chain in achieving better operational performance. It investigates how knowledge is accumulated, shared, and applied to create organization-specific knowledge resources that increase and sustain the organization's competitive advantage. Design/methodology/approach: This paper uses a single case study with multiple, embedded units of analysis, and the social network analysis (SNA) to demonstrate the impact of internal and external knowledge-based linkages across multiple tiers in the supply chain on the organizational operational performance. The focal company of the case study is an Italian manufacturer supplying rubber components to European automotive enterprises. Findings: With the aid of the SNA, the internal knowledge-based linkages can be mapped and visualized. We found that the most central nodes having the most connections with other nodes in the linkages are the most crucial members in terms of knowledge exploration and exploitation within the organization. We also revealed that the effective management of external knowledge-based linkages, such as buyer company, competitors, university, suppliers, and subcontractors, can help improve the operational performance. Research limitations/implications: First, our hypothesis was tested on a single case. The analysis of multiple case studies using SNA would provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between the knowledge-based linkages at all levels of the supply chain and the integration of knowledge. Second, the static nature of knowledge flows was studied in this research. Future research could also consider ongoing monitoring of dynamic linkages and the dynamic characteristic of knowledge flows. Originality/value: To the best of our knowledge, the phrase 'knowledge-based linkages' has not been used in the literature and there is lack of investigation on the relationship between the management of internal and external knowledge-based linkages and the operational performance. To bridge the knowledge gap, this paper will show the importance of understanding the composition and characteristics of knowledge-based linkages and their knowledge nodes. In addition, this paper will show that effective management of knowledge-based linkages leads to the creation of new knowledge and improves organizations' operational performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-269
Number of pages14
JournalKnowledge Management Research and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Case study
  • Knowledge-based linkages
  • Operational performance
  • Social network analysis
  • Supply chain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Business and International Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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