The different kinds of knowledge management and their goals and hindrances at Toyota

Seminar Paper, 2008

13 Pages, Grade: 2,0




1. Knowledge Management
1.1 What is Knowledge
1.2 What is Knowledge Management
1.3 Goals of knowledge management
1.4 Hindrances of Knowledge management

2. Toyota
2.1 History of Toyota
2.2 Toyota today

3. Knowledge management of Toyota
3.1 Learning and getting better
3.3 Making knowledge accessible
3.4 Act global – learn local
3.5 Conclusion

Literature/ Links


In this paper “Knowledge Management of Toyota”, the first part will show what Knowledge Management is and why it is becoming so important. It talks about the different kinds of knowledge and the goals and hindrance of knowledge management.

In the second part of this paper we look at more information about the enterprise Toyota. How it began, how they work and how they become one of the biggest automobile manufactures.

In the end there will be taken a closer look at the knowledge management of Toyota, the company philosophy and the Toyota network.

1. Knowledge Management

1.1 What is Knowledge

There are two different kinds of knowledge. First there is explicit knowledge. It is the classical knowledge which we all have in mind when we talk about knowledge. You can refer or assert this knowledge to somebody. You can ask someone, for example if he knows how to deal with an explicit machine or when the second world war ended. He can answer and explain it to you or he does not know it.

“Explicit knowledge is knowledge that has been or can be articulated, codified, and stored in certain media”.[1]

Tacit knowledge on the other hand is not so easy to access. It cannot really be available for someone who does not have this tacit knowledge, it can only be transmitted via training or gained through personal experience.[2]

This can be for example the knowledge of how to swim. If you can swim, you know how to do it but it’s kind of difficult to explain it to somebody. You can show it to somebody and practice with him but to describe it could be difficult.

Another example is if you ride a bicycle. You know how to balance but only theoretical. In the cases you cannot explain the complex physical rules, (inclusive down tilt, current celerity and steer angle), these single action includes. And that knowledge is what is called tacit knowledge.

1.2 What is Knowledge Management

So if we know what kind of knowledge exist the next question is what to do with this knowledge. Knowledge Management deals with this question. It means to see knowledge as an important factor for successful management. And its focus is on how to use the knowledge of company right.

Knowledge Manager see knowledge as a new factor of production besides the original factors labor, land, and capital. This means, it is a contributing factor for successful business management.

Thus the knowledge which is in the company has to be available and shareable quickly and common for everyone.

These terms mostly get realised by Information systems which connect the personnel communicative and furnish the knowledge.

Considering to the two different kinds of knowledge, there are different parts of knowledge management. The first is the “People-to-Document“ method for explicit knowledge and the second is the “People-to-People” method for tacit knowledge. At which the “People-to-Document” method is more based on computer-assisted systems and the „People-to-People“ method as the name implies is more of a dissemination from person to person.[3]

So “Knowledge management is the name of a concept in which an enterprise consciously and comprehensively gathers, organizes, shares, and analyzes its knowledge in terms of resources, documents, and people skills."[4]

To understand what that means and what it all includes the next table shows us what is behind all these catchwords.

Table 1: Phases of knowledge management[5]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Knowledge must be acquired not only in research and development. There is a lot more knowledge in the company. This knowledge must be stored and be available. If the information has to be looked for, or is not easily available to the employees, it can cost a lot of time and money or it may not get used for new developments. Maybe the employees do not even know which knowledge exist.[6]

So Knowledge Management does not have to just exist, it has to be in use or applied to have an effective benefit for the company.

1.3 Goals of knowledge management

Knowledge Management means a lot of work. So why should enterprises spend so much money and time in this method? As we said knowledge is seen for the knowledge manager as the fourth factor of production. Accordingly if you handle it right it should bring profit for your company.

Enterprises which use knowledge management systems and practice knowledge management named the following benefits of this method:

- “Process improvement
- Transparency of structure and processes
- Customer orientation and –satisfaction
- Saving of time and money
- Alleviation of decissions
- Betterment of the information exchange
- Augmentation of the quality
- Successful market leadership
- Satisfaction and qualification of the personnel”[7]

1.4 Hindrances of Knowledge management

So there are many reasons to practice knowledge management. But to reach the mentioned benefits you have to negotiate some problems which can occur.

People who know that something is important for a company and the people who know more than the others have the possibility to be promoted. The circulation of knowledge is a form of loss of power. Thus why should anyone share his knowledge?

Another problem is to make clear which knowledge is important for a knowledge-management-system. Often people do not consider their knowledge as important as it is or can be. Besides this you have to bring the people to it to use the system. To ask could be a sign of failing.

Those are the problems that companies who practice knowledge management have to deal with. They have to procure an ambiance of assurance. The employees do not dare be afraid of sharing there knowledge. The initialisation of knowledge has to recompense. Knowledge has to be important to use and to have. Not as an individual but as a group. That is why the employees should work more in teams and change their duties.

Knowledge management is not so easy to realise and it cost a lot of time and money but if you do it the right way, with the right system, the right company culture and the right knowledge it can help a company much, which I will show with the example of Toyota.[8]



[2] Vgl.:

[3] Vgl.: Ball, Rafael: Knowledge-Management - eine neue Aufgabe für Bibliotheken?



[6] Vgl.:


[8] Vgl.:

Excerpt out of 13 pages


The different kinds of knowledge management and their goals and hindrances at Toyota
Cologne University of Applied Sciences
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
518 KB
Wissensmanagement, Toyota, Lean Management, Knowledge Management
Quote paper
Ines Jost (Author), 2008, The different kinds of knowledge management and their goals and hindrances at Toyota, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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