2 HEC Montréal Affilié à l Université de Montréal Knowledge Construction and Risk Induction within a Large High-Tech Firm par W. David Holford Service de l Enseignment du Management, HEC Montréal Thèse présentée à la Faculté de études supérieures en vue de l obtention du grade de Philosophiæ Doctor en Administration Décembre, 2008, W. David Holford, 2008
3 ii HEC Montréal Affilié à l Université de Montréal Faculté des études supérieures Cette thése intitulée: Knowledge Construction and Risk Induction within a Large High-Tech Firm présentée par: W. David Holford a été évaluée par un jury composé des personnes suivantes:...professeur Alain Chanlat.. président-rapporteur...professeur Omar Aktouf... directeur de recherche..professeur Mehran Ebrahimi.. membre du jury...professeur Olivier Boiral... examinateur externe Professeur Patrick Cohendet. représentant du doyen de la FES
4 iii RÉSUMÉ: Cette étude cherchait à déterminer comment le savoir est construit et le risque est induit au sein d une grande firme de haute technologie en Amérique du Nord. En avançant qu il y a une relation étroite entre le savoir, le risque et la contradiction, un objectif principal de notre recherche consistait à évaluer comment les individus et une organisation collective incorporent les ambiguïtés ou les concepts antithétiques dans leurs activités quotidiennes. Ceci impliquait la vérification empirique d un cadre conceptuel préliminaire qui tente de distinguer la construction du savoir de l induction du risque, et ce, en fonction du sensemaking organisationnel face à l ambiguïté. Les résultats de notre recherche confirment que la contradiction, prenant la forme d ambiguïtés ou de concepts antithétiques, joue un rôle important dans la complexification et l enrichissement du savoir. Une étude de cas sur deux groupes de travail a démontré que la principale ambiguïté menant à la construction d un savoir enrichi implique la dyade ontologique de la reconnaissance du désir individuel vs la reconnaissance de l identité envers l Autre. L intégration de cette ambiguïté primaire a aussi permis de faire émerger de façon originale la notion de perspective-taking et perspective-making/giving dans la mesure où les ambiguïtés secondaires et spécifiques aux groupes (dans la forme de connaissances complémentaires) sont intégrées pour ainsi alimenter la construction du savoir complexifié. Ceci forme la base d un nouveau cadre émergent du processus dialogique de construction du savoir qui démontre que les conditions clés pour maintenir cette dynamique implique la confiance et le respect mutuel, le support mutuel et l autonomie et que lorsque réprimées, elles mènent à un effondrement de sous-processus ou étapes dialogiques, et ultimement à l induction de risques transdisciplinaires. Un résultat additionnel de cette étude est le concept de boundary construction résultant de l interaction acteur/boundary object. Ceci implique essentiellement les aspects visuels et autres aspects non-verbaux, tels que les gestes corporels et les objets énergisés, qui sont dans un flux continuel de coconstruction/re-construction actuelle et potentielle par les acteurs interagissant.
5 iv Cette étude de cas a aussi démontré que le sentiment de confiance en soi suscité par les dirigeants à travers une approche de filet de sécurité parentale (et non pas paternaliste) était un facteur clé pour le fonctionnement du processus de construction du savoir. Une telle approche impliquait non seulement le support direct ou indirect du management, mais a aussi entraîné un support mutuel entre les membres du groupe, encourageant de concert l initiative individuelle qui, finalement, fournit un environnement propice pour l apprentissage individuel et la progression du groupe. Placer l humain à l avant plan des actions et pensées managériales nous mène, en fin de compte, vers un savoir enrichi et complexifié, tout en minimisant une variété de catégories de risque. Mots clés: Contradiction, ambiguïté, savoir, boundary object, boundary construction, perspective-taking, perspective-making/giving, risque.
6 v ABSTRACT. This research sought to determine how knowledge is constructed and risk is induced within a large North American high-tech firm. In arguing that there is an intimate relationship between knowledge, risk and contradiction, a major objective included the study of how individuals and the collective organisation integrate antithetical concepts or ambiguity within their daily activities. This included the empirical verification of a preliminary conceptual framework which attempted to distinguish knowledge construction from risk generation, and this, as a function of organisational sense-making in regards to ambiguity. The results of our study confirmed that contradiction, in the form of complementary antithetical concepts or ambiguities, does in fact play an important role in achieving complexified knowledge. A case study examination of two workgroups showed that the primary ambiguity at work leading towards enriched knowledge construction involves the ontological dyad of recognition of individual desire vs recognition of identity towards the Other. Embracing such an ambiguity also showed the notion of perspective-taking and perspectivemaking/giving to emerge in a novel way, whereby secondary ambiguities specific to the workgroup(s) in the form of knowledge complementarities are integrated so as to nourish the construction of complexified knowledge. This formed the basis for a new emerging dialogical knowledge construction framework showing that key conditions involved in maintaining such dynamics involves mutual trust and respect, mutual support and autonomy which when repressed, lead to breakdowns in key dialogical sub-processes or steps, and ultimately the induction of transdisciplinary risks. An additional outcome from this study was the concept of boundary construction as a result of boundary object/actor interactions. This essentially involves visual and other non-verbal aspects of dialogical communication, such as body gestures and energised artifacts, which are in a constant flux of actual and potential co-construction and re-construction at the hands of interacting actors.
7 vi This case study also showed that managements instilment of self-confidence across a parental (yet not paternalistic) safety net approach was a key factor towards a achieving a fully functioning knowledge construction process. Such an approach not only involved direct or indirect support by management, but also entrained mutual support between the group members themselves, all the while encouraging self-initiative thus providing an environment for both individual learning and group progression. Placing the full human at the forefront of management thinking and actions, in the end, leads towards enriched or complexified knowledge construction, all the while mitigating a variety of risk categories. Key words: Contradiction, ambiguity, knowledge, boundary object, boundary construction, perspective-taking, perspective-making/giving, risk.
8 vii TABLE OF CONTENTS Résumé...iii Abstract...v INTRODUCTION: RISK, KNOWLEDGE AND CONTRADICTION...1 CHAPTER I: CONTRADICTION AS EITHER VISIBLE PARADOX OR UNDERLYING AMBIGUITY Paradox as a Visible Outcome Caused or Driven by Underlying Ambiguity Western Society s Struggle Towards Fully Accepting Both the Subject and Object A Total Environment that is both Dialectical and Teeming with Ambiguity..14 CHAPTER II: RISK CREATION AND KNOWLEDGE CONSTRUCTION Knowledge as Synthesis of Emerging Polysemic Concepts of Ambiguity Risk Categories As Having the Potential For Being Inter-related A Few General Words about the Honda Ridgeline Pick-up Truck Honda as an Ambiguity-Recognizing Firm A Predisposition Towards Creating Disruptive Innovations Relative Risk: Recognizing Ambiguity vs One-Sided Thought Knowledge Construction and Risk Creation within the Group Environment Massified Groups Differentiated Groups The SECI Approach to Organizational Knowledge Creation Applicability of the SECI Approach within a North American Context Preliminary Framework for Assessing Knowledge Construction and Risk Creation within a Project Team or Group Refining the Framework across Organisational Sense-Making Principle Research Aim and Research Questions...75
9 viii CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY Choosing the Field First Contacts with the Field Constraints, Opportunities and Serendipity Shifting from the Original Intent of the Project Team towards the Departmental Workgroup Ethnographic Case Study with Embedded Units of Analysis Objectivity vs Subjectivity Etic vs Emic Criteria Used for Judging the Quality of the Research Design Data Collection Informal Non-participatory Observations, Conversations and Ad hoc Interviews In-depth Formal Semi-directed Interviews Company Documents and other Static Artifacts Dynamic Artifacts: Short Film Clips Methodological Limitations of the Study Particular Limitations and Advantages in Regards to the Investigator s Personal Experience Data Analysis and Interpretation A Few Words After-the-Fact Main Research Steps CHAPTER IV: DESCRIPTIVE DATA FROM THE FIELD Foreword My Return to NorAm and First Re-Contacts with Management A Phone conversation with Brad Follow-up Meeting with the Director s Deputy First Meeting with the Manager of the Operability Development Department First Meeting with the Manager of the Special Test Department Meeting Old Colleagues First Contact with the two Workgroups My First Intergroup Meeting Presentation to the Special Test Workgroup Presentation to the Operability Development Workgroup A Visit for Old-Times Sake The Morning Intergroup Meetings Initial Ethnographic Observations and Difficulties More Thorough Observations The Pre-Agenda Period The Formal Agenda Period The Post-Agenda Period The Special Test Workgroup First Ethnographic Observations Subsequent Days Within the Special Test Workgroup Environment The Operability Development Workgroup First Ethnographic Impressions Subsequent Days Within the Operability Development Workgroup Environment...161
10 ix CHAPTER V: ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF THE DATA Categories and Patterns Discerned Within the Intergroup Meeting Environment Storytelling and Narrations Perspective-Giving Perspective-Taking Perspective Adjustments vs Binary-type Creditation/Discreditation Dynamic/Static Boundary Objects and Other Non-Verbal Dynamic Boundary Representations Re-Visiting the Knowledge Construction Process Integrating Other Observed Categories Introducing and Incorporating the Concept of Boundary Constructions Literature and Epistemological Review of Boundary Objects Hybridization and Inter-Reciprocal Relationship of the Subject and Object Dynamic Non-Verbal Representations and Dynamic/Static Boundary Objects as Boundary Constructions Integrating Tacit and Explicit Knowledge and its Conversions A So-Called Epistemological Dilemma as Reflection of the Researchers own Erroneous Assumptions Knowledge Complexification as Openness to Ambiguity Recognition of Desire vs Recognition of Group Identity: Enter Differentiated Intergroup Dynamics Testing the Framework Outside of the Intergroup Meeting Context Examples Highlighting the Notion of Risk Induction as a Result of Coercive Sense-Giving Differentiated Group Dynamics Within the Special Test Workgroup Environment Recognition of Desire vs Recognition of Identification to the Group Management: Instilling a Sense of Self-Confidence and Sense of Identity to the Group Amongst the Group Members and Instilling a Likeable Mission Secondary Antithetical Elements Embraced Within the Special Test Workgroup A Schematic Summary of the Special Test Workgroup Dynamics Quasi-Differentiated Group Dynamics Within the Operability Development Workgroup Environment Recognition of Desire vs Recognition of Identification to the Group with a Caveat; and an Approachable/Supportive Management Secondary Antithetical Elements Embraced Within the Operability Development Workgroup A Schematic Summary of the Operability Development Workgroup Dynamics...274
11 x CHAPTER VI: DISCUSSION Reviewing the Research Questions and Synthesizing the Three Units of Analysis The Separate Units of Analysis Synthesizing the Three Units of Analysis Limited Risk Induction Resulting from the Emotional Resilience of Differentiated Dynamics On Taking the Time to Dialogue vs No Time for Dialogue Possible Implications and Stakes for NorAm Canada Taking the Time to Dialogue in Order to meet the Challenges Within the Supply Chain Going from Effective Boundary Objects to Energised Boundary Co-Constructions A Shift Towards Boundary Co-constructions Implies Less Reified Success Factors Limitations of this Study and Recommendations for future Work Lack of Personal Emancipation and its Ramifications: The Specific Case of Qualified Ageing Workers.319 CHAPTER VII: CONCLUSIONS REFERENCES..332 APPENDICES...xvii
12 xi LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Aktouf s positive paradox driven by underlying recognised ambiguity 10 Figure 2: Negative paradox driven by underlying repressed ambiguity 10 Figure 3: Horizontal dialectic at the visible paradox level coupled with a vertical dialectic linking the visible paradox with the underlying ambiguity (in this case repressed).20 Figure 4: Negative reflexivity and resultant/reproducing negative paradox generating both Risk as well as concretised unintended consequences...23 Figure 5: A) Relatively more complex knowledge and relatively less risk generated as a result of integrating a high degree of ambiguity..30 B) Relatively simple or uni-dimensional knowledge and relatively high risk generated as result of integrating little or no ambiguity.30 Figure 6: Weick s (1979) enactment, selection and retention model to organizational sense-making..31 Figure 7: A) Diachronic re-integration of error in the case of when ambiguity is recognised, thus generating less unaddressed resultant risk and unintentional consequences.34 B) Little or no diachronic re-integration of error in the case of little or no recognition of ambiguity, thereby resulting in much greater unaddressed resultant risk and unintended consequences..34 Figure 8: SECI approach to organizational knowledge creation..55 Figure 9: Preliminary framework showing basic triad of ambiguity, knowledge and risk for a project team or work group within a given context 64 Figure 10: Massified group which continually credits or believes its ideologies, routines, practices and logics, leading to unbalanced knowledge creation (SECI), as well as relatively high risk and unintended consequences.69 Figure 11: Over-differentiated group which continually dis-believes its ideologies, routines, practices and logics, leading to unbalanced knowledge creation (SECI), as well as relatively high risk and unintended consequences 70 Figure 12: Differentiated group which is continually ambivalent towards its ideologies, routines, practices and logics, leading towards a balanced knowledge creation (SECI), as well as relatively low risk and unintended consequences 74 Figure 13: Optimal cognitive distance...75 Figure 14: Composite map of interview and observational data (large green circles denote that the subcategory in question was seen across 3 or more participants observed; numbers in brackets (e.g. (18, 5) denotes frequency of actions, events or verbatim for the sub-category in question followed by the number of participants who produced these actions events or verbatim).83
13 xii Figure 15: Examples of verbatim, actions or events from observations or interviews showing evidence of SECI 84 Figure 16: Office layout of the Special Test workgroup work area Figure 17: Office layout of the Operability Development worgroup work area 161 Figure 18: Perspective coordination process between Self and Other 197 Figure 19: Perspective coordination process between Self and Other as a precursor to recognition of desire and recognition of group identity..200 Figure 20: Perspective coordination process between Self and Other incorporating the process of readjustment of retained knowledge 201 Figure 21: A holistic-dialectic relationship between the subject and boundary object as boundary construction Figure 22: Perspective coordination process between Self and Other incorporating the process of readjustment of retained knowledge + the process of boundary construction..208 Figure 23: Integrating the tacit-explicit knowledge conversion processes within the perspective coordination framework 210 Figure 24: The knowledge construction and sharing process within the intergroup meeting environment..222 Figure 25: Initial stages of a coercive sense-giving individual entering the discussion forum..240 Figure 26: Later stages of coercive sense-giving leading to an overall non-sensemaking, a reduced complexification/sharing of knowledge and an increased risk in undesirable consequences..241 Figure 27: Summary description or schematic of the differentiated group dynamics existing within the Special Test workgroup 257 Figure 28: Summary description or schematic of the differentiated group dynamics existing within the Operability Development workgroup..275 Figure 29: A) A virtuous dialectical relationship between primary and secondary ambiguities leading to complexified knowledge and relatively less risk B) A deleterious dialectical relationship between primary and secondary ambiguities leading to limited knowledge and relatively greater risk Figure 30: The dialogical knowledge construction process within a differentiated dynamics Figure 31: The lose-lose proposition between the individual and the organisation in the face of lack (or absence) of authentic dialogue 305
14 xiii LIST OF TABLES Table I: Data source vs. Information sought...93 Table II : Frequency and type of data collection in regards to various embedded units of analysis.94
15 xiv LIST OF APPENDICES Appendix i: Glossary of Technical Terms...xvii Appendix ii: Points/Aspects to Focus on During Observation Sessions...xx Appendix iii: Semi-Structured Interview Guide For WorkGroup or Project Team Participants...xxii Appendix iv: Interview Guide for Young/Older Workers...xxvii Appendix v: Interview Guide for External Participants who Interact with the Workgroups..xxix
16 xv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My first thoughts go towards my wife and life companion, Marie-Claude. Firstly, because of the serendipitous events she helped trigger, eventually leading me towards a first encounter with Professor Omar Aktouf. But more importantly, because of the persevering patience and support she has displayed throughout each phase of this doctoral program a feat that I hold very dear to my heart and will always be grateful towards. Upon our first meeting, I somehow knew Professor Omar Aktouf would provide a great influence in my life; and helped remove any possible doubts I might have had about embarking upon this academic journey. As a principal mentor and friend, his steady guiding hand provided me with an emotional security on the one hand; while by nurturing and helping me develop fledgling ideas, repeatedly stoked my intellectual curiosities into full-fledged passions. I am forever indebted to Professor Mehran Ebrahimi, good friend and confidante, whose constant encouragement and advice helped me surmount and transform challenges into opportunities; and more importantly, helped me believe in myself. His positive outlook, support and ideas helped me achieve certain accomplishments that I would have thought unachievable just a few short years ago. I am also very grateful to Professor Laurent Simon for his many insightful suggestions and ideas on trying to keep me focused on what is important, and to discard the more superfluous. Special thanks also goes to Professor Ann Langley for having provided me her time and a number of useful suggestions at various stages of my fieldwork and subsequent write-up of this dissertation.
17 xvi A warm and heartfelt appreciation goes out to the generosity of all the participants I got to know and work with during my three month stay at NorAm : especially Richard (2), Martin, Yves, Yvon, Stéphane, Maxime, Mike, Gilles, Jean, Michel and André. I learned so much more from you than you can ever imagine. I d like to thank my parents and parent-in-laws for their moral support; and especially my father, for being a non-conformist at a time when it mattered the most that is, when he provided me his plain and direct words of encouragement when this journey was at its most fragile beginnings. A special word also goes to Anick for having provided emotional support to our small tightly-knit family on numerous occasions. And to Claude, wherever you may be in the after-life thank you for your silent approval.
18 INTRODUCTION: RISK, KNOWLEDGE AND CONTRADICTION
19 2 Many of today s managers are pre-occupied with the notion of risk (whether in regards to corporate finances, financial markets, product quality, the environment, etc.) in terms of its assessment, characterization, and management of. In parallel, there has also been an evergrowing interest in the field of knowledge creation and circulation, as well as its management of (Nonaka et al, 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2004; Brown and Duguid, 1998; Inkpen, 1996; Szulanski, 2000). Surprisingly, the literature providing an explicit and indepth examination as to the possible inter-relation between knowledge (as opposed to pure data or information 1 ) and risk is somewhat scarce. This of course, discounts the numerous passing comments made in regards to their relationship. For example, Kloman (2001) in arguing that risk cannot be avoided states that every decision, no matter how carefully conceived or studied by the experts, creates consequences that are impossible to anticipate and that we must recognize the limits of our knowledge. Should we construe that risk is immanent and cannot be reduced beyond a certain level of knowledge? It is important to note at this point that we are not just speaking of risk reduction across the skilful manoeuvring around a given source of risk, but also, reducing the causes that are generating a given risk. Perhaps what Kloman really meant was that risk can never be eliminated since perfect knowledge or truth can probably never be attained (Nonaka and Toyama, 2003); but can at least be reduced across continuous improvements or updatings in knowledge. Another potentially mis-interpretable comment discerned across Weick s (2001a: 44)...knowledge and ignorance grow together. When one increases so does the other would almost have us accept our fateful destinies. Yet, a closer look at Weick s (2001a: 30, 59 and 62) position gives us an altogether different view: simplications produce blind spots... and...with more differentiation comes a richer and more varied picture of potential consequences ; or that safety is elusive because it is a dynamic non-event what produces the stable outcome is constant change rather than continuous repetition. What Weick seems to be alluding to is that on-going and never-ending collective 1 Nonaka, Toyama and Konno (2001: 14) give a succinct example of knowledge vs information: Knowledge is context specific, because it depends on a particular time and space (von Hayek, 1945). Without a context, it is just information, not knowledge. For example, 1234 ABC Street is just information...however when put into context, it becomes knowledge: My friend David lives at 1234 ABC Street, which is next to the library. The authors (as per Rosaldo, 1989) subsequently add personal beliefs, values, and emotions as added key dimensions of context.
20 3 complexification of knowledge can better prepare entities to deal with complex and everchanging environments. In other words, to stop learning increases risk. On the other hand, Weick (2001a) also acknowledges that risk can never be eliminated: complexification of knowledge can only, for example, reduce (but not eliminate) risk at the source; provide increased systems resilience (that is, provide flexible, low impact environments to better face unexpected events); or provide enhanced readiness for a given event so as to limit its damages (e.g. crisis management). Along these lines, Beck (2001), who partially agrees with Kloman (2001) in that risk appears to be generated with every decision taken, and that it is synonymous with incomplete knowledge, clearly sides with Weick (2001a) in that the mitigation or reduction of risk can be attained via the generation of more complexified or improved knowledge. Implicit throughout Beck s (2001) arguments is that knowledge can only be achieved by re-balancing various contradictory or opposing concepts such as critical vs instrumental reasoning, the explicitly measurable vs the tacitly intangible, analysis vs synthesis, the individual vs the collective, private interests vs social well-being, etc. Building upon Beck s (2001) recommendations, a closer look at contradiction suggests that it plays an important role in regards to both the creation of risk and creation of knowledge and their inter-relationship. For example, if we are to believe the words of Quinn and Cameron (1988), contradiction is inherent in human beings and their social organisations. Yet the presence of contradiction or antithetical concepts, as Poole and Van de Ven (1989) explain, has often been viewed as an indicator of poor theory building. Yet if contradiction abounds everywhere, is it not a risky proposition to ignore, refuse or repress it, especially in today s ever-changing and turbulent environments? Interestingly, certain advocates of knowledge creation and its management such as Nonaka et al (2002, 2004 and 2005) see the recognition (and subsequent synthesis) of antithetical concepts as being a key factor in creating richer and more innovative knowledge. Hence, can the recognition of contradiction both increase the richness and innovativeness of knowledge while decreasing risk? Before jumping to such hasty conclusions, the notion and definition(s) of contradiction in itself requires closer examination on our part.
21 CHAPTER I: CONTRADICTION AS EITHER VISIBLE PARADOX OR UNDERLYING AMBIGUITY
22 5 Synonymous terms for contradiction include paradox and ambiguity. For example, Poole and Van de Ven (1989) interchange the terms contradiction and paradox in arguing that it is important that paradox be recognised and used towards the building of management and organisation theory. One of the difficulties with paradox, as Quinn and Cameron (1988: 290) explain, is that its definition is slippery. According to the authors, its simplest definition, going back to Latin roots, says that paradox is an apparent contradiction. A paradox is an observation in which two apparently contradictory elements are seen as present or operating at the same time. We can also complement this with the Webster s Collegiate dictionary which sees paradox as being contrary to expectation...a tenet contrary to received opinion... a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is true. Often, we are able to discern paradoxical events around us which can result in either positive or negative outcomes. For example, in our quest for business efficiency and maximization of profits, when taken to its extreme, can at times yield the exact opposite result of what was intended. Such a possibility was discerned in a preliminary and exploratory study conducted in the summer of 2004 that attempted to understand organizational knowledge creation, transfer and circulation within a North American hightech company. Non-participatory observations showed a perception amongst participants of lack of time and lack of resources to foster trust and forge relationships, as illustrated in the following observation notes: James added how time was such an important resource and that there just didn t seem to be enough of it. For James, time is needed to make contacts and forge relationships. He explained how we need to travel more to the forge masters to see and meet them so as to gain more confidence in what they say in terms of technical information and opinions (he seemed to place a very strong correlation between personal how a person is like and the credibility and validity of the technical information coming from that person). He continues by saying people don t interact with suppliers anymore the way they used to (he is referring to prior to emphasis on cost and budget controls instituted since the early or mid 90 s). People need to travel more to develop relationships and not just to go in and out. Going out with the supplier allows you to get to know them more.
23 6 This appeared to validate Nonaka et al s (2000: 50) premise that mutual trust is a key enabling condition towards the sharing of tacit experience and knowledge between individuals (i.e. socialization), as well as encouraging dialogue or articulation of explicit knowledge within groups of individuals (i.e. externalization). Hence, Jon was facing a potential situation in which the extreme desire for maximum profits across sole emphasis on cost efficiencies and speed was creating conditions for achieving the exact opposite; namely, the reduction of long-term profits via limitations placed on the conditions that nurture the creation of innovative knowledge. Conversely, it was also recognized that the sole pursuit of innovative knowledge without process efficiencies could also lead to the same end result (Nonaka et al, 2003). A similar example of negative paradox at work can be seen across Liker s (2004) comparison of Ford and Toyota in regards to their manufacturing approaches: Ford, in an attempt to mimic Japanese lean manufacturing methods have typically pushed for their factories to operate at close to 100% of their capacities, while Toyota, on the other hand, have on average had their production operations working at an optimal level ranging between 75-85% of their capacities. Yet, the paradox is that Toyota, rather than Ford, is the recognized world leader in manufacturing throughput and productivity. As Liker (2004) explains, Toyota have understood that manufacturing lines must be stopped for various reasons in order to ensure 1) proper periodic maintenance of equipment; and 2) proper trouble-shooting of occasional manufacturing process issues that have a direct impact on product quality. During these line stoppages, vital creative knowledge is generated and shared across dialogue (whether across informal quality circles or adhoc face to face interactions), which in turn leads to innovative process improvements and/or elimination of recurrent problems. Ford management (especially during the 1990 s), on the other hand, in placing enormous pressures to meet production targets, have had to deal with unexpected manufacturing line equipment break-downs (which can often mean line stoppages which last 2-3 months due to delays involved in equipment procurement and installation); or worst, in driving towards monthly production targets, will often ignore the need to temporarily stop production lines to address process quality issues, which in the end come back to haunt them in the form of time and/or cost consuming part reworks, costly product