Knowledge management processes and organizational learning and unlearningthree works on their relationship and influence on value and perfomance

  1. Cepeda Carrión, Ignacio Francisco
Supervised by:
  1. Silvia Martelo Landroguez Director
  2. Antonio Genaro Leal Millán Director

Defence university: Universidad de Sevilla

Fecha de defensa: 17 June 2016

  1. José Luis Galán González Chair
  2. Jose Luis Roldan Salgueiro Secretary
  3. Juan Gabriel Cegarra Navarro Committee member
  4. Manuel Guisado Tato Committee member
  5. José Augusto Felício Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 415346 DIALNET lock_openIdus editor


In this doctoral dissertation, we argue that companies acting in a tremendously competitive and changing environment need to be especially aware of the need to generate superior customer value. To create this value, firms ought necessarily to combine and properly renew their organizational capabilities. These must be customer-focused and able to permanently adapt to changes in their environment. The dynamism and the uncertainty inherent to markets actively hinder the sustaining of competitive advantages over time. Therefore, companies must continuously create new customer value while maintaining the value produced in previous periods (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Morrow et al., 2007; Sirmon et al., 2007). In this work, based on the prior related literature, we develop several research models in order to link the firm’s KM processes, and organizational learning and unlearning with customer value and the quality of service in the Spanish banking industry (SBI). Within the introduction chapter, it is highlighted the role that these capabilities perform as strategic tools that may lead to business performance enhancement and the attainment of sustainable competitive advantages. The core of this research is focused on the disentanglement of the ties between the firm’s KM processes, the learning and unlearning on the customer value and performance. Within the introductory chapter, the main purpose of this thesis is settled. This main objective deals with the consecution of a deeper understanding of the roles played by the processes of knowledge management (KM), the types of learning and the unlearning on the customer value and quality of service. Specifically, the thesis focus in four processes of KM as follwos: Absorptive Capacity (AC); Knowledge Transfer (KT); Knowledge Stock (KS) and the Knowledge Application (KA). This study broadly approaches this purpose by trying to answer the following research questions: 1) Has the unlearning context a possitive association with the quality of service? 2) Has the absorptive capacity (AC) a possitive association with customer value? What is the mediating effect of the knowledge stock (KS) and knowledge application (KA) in the relation between CA and customer value?. 3) Does the combination and interrelation between KM processes (absorptive capacity, knowledge transfer, and knowledge application) constitute a dynamic capability?.Has the interrelation between KM processes a possitive association with the customer value? Within the exposure and development of the three central chapters, together with the theoretical background gathered in chapter 2 we have intended to answer the main research questions and to empirically test the relationships hypothesized. Concerning the first research question, it is approached by the chapter 3. The second question is assessed at chapters 4. Finally, chapter 5 assessed the third research question. The questions researchs hypothesized in papers in chapter 3 and 4 are empirically test in the sample of Spanish Banking Industry (SBI). The proposed research questions in paper of chapter 5 is not empirically tested in this thesis. Our study establishes important conclusions about the role of organizational unlearning in knowledge creation (i.e., organizational learning) and its influence on the quality of service. The study considers the learning forms (i.e., exploration and exploitation) and knowledge stocks (i.e., relational and technology knowledge) that bank managers generate through their relationships with customers. The results support the view that to create relational and technology knowledge and, hence, foster the adoption of new practices, banks must build and foster an unlearning context. Therefore, our findings support that unlearning has a positive relationship with the learning forms (i.e., exploration and exploitation), exploration and exploitation have a positive relationship with relational and technology knowledge (i.e., knowledge stock), and, in turn, this knowledge stock has a positive link with the quality of service. These findings suggest that, through an unlearning context, banks enable people to adjust their mental models and the nature of the assumptions which they share in order to break with the current workplace culture. Managers need to create a context of continuous unlearning because old and outdated knowledge can impede an adaptation to new configurations. Moreover, relational and technology knowledge allow banking firms to enhance service quality. As was established in our assumptions, the potential for any service firm to preserve and maintain the quality of its services greatly depends on its ability to acquire and assimilate new ideas. In this thesis, we also link ACAP with the customer value. The results show that ACAP is a main antecedent of customer value. This finding is consistent with the prior literature about KM and ACAP (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990). In addition, the study points out that KS and KA play a mediating role in this relationship, having different results. The results support that ACAP affects customer value, both directly and also indirectly, through KA and via the multiple effect of KS and KA, but not through the mediating role of KS. Therefore, according to the prior literature (Ahuja & Katila, 2001; Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Martelo-Landroguez et al., 2011), this finding contributes to confirming that the absorbed knowledge must be applied in order to achieve a superior value. If knowledge is stored yet not applied, then a superior value will not be achieved. The study also offers a way to develop dynamic capabilities and help companies to focus on the customer, through the combination and interrelationship of three critical KM processes: ACAP, KT, and KA. The findings present these processes as a knowledge cycle that constitutes a dynamic capability, and that generates synergies in the organization to create customer value and, therefore, to achieve better results and sustainable advantages.