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  • 1. The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1463-5771.htmBIJ18,1 Towards taxonomy architecture of knowledge management for third-party logistics42 service provider R. Rajesh Department of Mechanical Engineering, Noorul Islam University, Kumarakoil, India S. Pugazhendhi Department of Manufacturing Engineering, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, India, and K. Ganesh Global Business Services – Global Delivery, IBM India Private Limited, Mumbai, India Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how the rapid pace of technological change, attrition rate, global complexities and the increasing amount of data and information available have complicated the task of managing knowledge for third-party logistics (3PL) service providers. Based on literature, there is a need for research into the development of a generic taxonomy components framework (GTCF) for the implementation of knowledge management (KM) solution for 3PL service providers. Design/methodology/approach – A four-stage model has been devised for the development of a GTCF to implement KM solution for 3PL service providers. The authors proposed modified Q-sort method and also used Delphi analysis in the four-stage model. The KM components were identified through literature study and discussion with subject experts. The hierarchical structure of the taxonomy was derived and refined through a survey among 3PL experts by employing Q-sort method. Findings – This paper makes several important contributions toward the objective of better understanding the role of 3PL operations in knowledge creation. The feedback from the respondents shows that the GTCF is of potential employment by 3PL service providers irrespective of the nature of the primary service they offer. Research limitations/implications – The GTCF has been devised based on survey responses gathered from 3PL experts in India. The findings of this study have implications for understanding the key KM components required for 3PL service provider relationship and also the weightage for KM components. Practical implications – The aim of this research is for the development of a GTCF which can be taken as the base for implementation of KM solutions for 3PL service providers. Originality/value – The contribution of this study lies in extending the body of knowledge of KM for 3PL service providers. It tests a proposed framework which has only limited empirical validation,Benchmarking: An International and provides a broader understanding of KM components required for 3PL service provider.Journal Keywords Knowledge management, Delphi method, Distribution channels and markets,Vol. 18 No. 1, 2011pp. 42-68 Service industriesq Emerald Group Publishing Limited1463-5771 Paper type Research paperDOI 10.1108/14635771111109814
  • 2. 1. Introduction TaxonomyGrowth and globalization, coupled with recent advances in information technology (IT), architecturehave led many of the firms to introduce sophisticated knowledge management systems(KMS) in order to create sustainable competitive advantage (Ofek and Sarvari, of KM for 3PL2001). Knowledge management (KM) efforts typically focus on organizational objectivessuch as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing oflessons learned and continuous improvement of the organization. According to 43Du Plessis (2005), the overarching objective of KM is to create, share, harvest andleverage knowledge in order to initiate action based on knowledge, support businessstrategy implementation and realisation of business objectives, increase competitiveadvantage, create an innovative culture and environment and improve work efficiencythrough improved decision making, improved customer service, improved solution ofbusiness problems, increased productivity and improved leveraging of corporate andindividual knowledge. KM ensures the availability of and access to relevant, up-to-datestrategic knowledge on markets, products and services, competitors, processes andprocedures, employee skills and the regulatory environment, for decision making anddaily work activities. This ensures that the organization can act quickly to changes inthe marketplace and can act ahead of its competitors, i.e. it provides the organizationwith a competitive advantage in respect of agility. Efficiency is also increased due totime saving and prevention of duplication of work due to the availability of knowledge. In recent years, the possibility of applying KM to logistics and to logistics planninghas been put forward in literature. Despite these discussions, KM has not beenimplemented in logistics in large-scale (Neuman and Tome, 2005). Logistics is definedas the planning, execution and control of the movement and placement of peopleand/or goods and of the supporting activities within a system organized to achievespecific objectives (ELA, 2004). Logistics is a critical function in supply chain andinclude planning (creating strategies of managing resources which are essential to fulfillneeds on particular goods and services), identifying sources of resources, fixing prices,deliveries and payments, managing resources and storing process, production, thestage of delivery and goods return. Nowadays, as competition becomes more intense,many firms are considering the option of outsourcing the logistics activities in order tostreamline their value chains. In the last decade, development of third-party logistics(3PL) service provider has been very important. There are several reasons for suchdevelopment, the most important being the trend to concentrate in the core business bymanufacturing companies and new technological advances. As in companies and thesociety in general, knowledge has been widely recognized and accepted as a strategicresource in the area of logistics too which includes 3PL providers. The biggest challengefor properly handling this strategic resource by applying KM methods and tools to bothspheres, the planning of logistics systems and processes and the operation of logisticsservices, consists in providing the right knowledge of the right quality and with the rightcosts at the right place and time. Major problems in implementing KM and running it inthe daily logistics business include financial limitations, time restrictions, as well asinsufficient structuring and presentation of knowledge. It is observed that KM has not been considered or implemented in large-scale 3PLcompanies or logistics departments of larger firms because of the problems explainedwhich includes a proper structuring and presentation of knowledge. We are attemptingto devise a generic taxonomy component framework (GTCF) for the implementation
  • 3. BIJ of KM solution for 3PL service providers. This paper draws on literature and expertise18,1 from 3PL executives to propose taxonomy of strategies for KM for 3PL providers. We propose a four-stage model to develop the GTCF for KM implementation that will help the user to think, create and contribute knowledge in an organized fashion and help the user to access in the same fashion to enhance the use or re-use of knowledge. The primary purpose of this framework is to guide executives of 3PL on choices to initiate44 KM process according to goals, organizational character and technological, behavioural or economic biases. The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 details the research background and motivation of research. Research methodology is explained in Section 3. The development of GTCF of KM for 3PL providers is detailed in Section 4. Managerial implications and future scope are discussed in Section 5. Section 6 concludes the paper. 2. Research background 2.1 KM perspective The KM architecture consists of four elements namely: knowledge components, KM process, IT and organizational aspects. Knowledge component includes knowledge definition and knowledge categories while KM process contains the steps and activities to deal with knowledge. IT consists of IT-related support infrastructure such as communication lines, networks, database and many others. Lastly, organizational aspects comprise the organizational structure, corporate culture and human resource management. Among these four elements, knowledge components and KM process are the key components of the KM concept (Supyuenyong and Islam, 2006). KM aids in planning, organizing, motivating and controlling of people, processes and systems in the organization to ensure that its knowledge-related assets are continuously improved and effectively employed. Knowledge-related assets include knowledge in the form of printed documents such as patents and manuals, knowledge stored in electronic repositories such as best-practices database, employees’ knowledge about the best way to do their jobs, knowledge that is held by teams concerning efficient and effective teamwork and knowledge that is embedded in the organization’s products, processes and relationships. The processes of KM involve knowledge acquisition, creation, refinement, storage, transfer, sharing and utilization. The KM function in the organization facilitates these processes, develops methodologies and systems to support them and motivates people to participate in them. The broadest goal of KM is to improve organizational performance and the broadest intermediate goal is to facilitate organizational learning. An early view of organizational learning is as follows: “encoding inferences from history into routines that guide behavior” (Levitt and March, 1988). By motivating the creation, dissemination and application of knowledge, KM initiatives payoff by helping the organization to achieve its goals. But in turn, knowledge is from and for the process. From this perspective, organizational learning is one of the important ways in which the organization can utilize knowledge. King (2007) showed that KM has positively improved organizational processes, such as innovation, collaborative decision making and individual and collective learning. This improved organizational process produce intermediate outcomes such as better decisions and improved organizational behaviors, products, services, processes and relationships. This in turn, leads to improved organizational performance (Hansen et al., 1999). Earl (2001) has described various KM organizational strategies or “schools of thought” at a more detailed level. Author has also
  • 4. identified these empirically through observations in numerous companies. KM may be Taxonomyconducted across multiple organizations, such as with suppliers, partners and architecturecustomers. Such KM activities obviously rely on communications networks and systems(Van de Ven, 2005). KMS refers to a system for managing knowledge in organizations, of KM for 3PLsupporting creation, capture, storage and dissemination of information. It can comprisea part of a KM initiative (Paiva et al., 2007). The steps to KM implementation are knowledge audit, strategic planning, system 45design and architecture and phase-wise implementation and deployment. Recently, theterm “information system capability” (Bharadwaj, 2000) has been coined trying to linkthe notions of dynamic capability, i.e. the ability to integrate, build and reconfigureinternal and external competences to address rapidly changing environments anddouble-loop learning (Teece et al., 1997). As compared to the previous systems, in theinformation system capability framework, all organizational processes and practices areembedded in the information systems and the concern is rather with organizationallyinternal developments than with changes in the external environment. The process of embedding the KM processes and KM practices needs a framework andit is termed as taxonomy. Taxonomy is a standardized set of terms, hierarchicallyorganized, used to categorize information and knowledge. The taxonomy generallyreflects how we think about our business, how we organize ourselves to conduct business,and/or how and what we deliver to our customers. The hierarchical organization is a usefulway to display relationships among terms, and makes it easier to find like items atmore general or more specific levels. At its most basic level, the taxonomy standardizeswhat we call things, making a consistent connection between an idea or concept and thewords we use to describe it. This standardization makes it easier for the ultimate user tofind what he or she is looking for. In other words, taxonomy is the apex operationalstructure of the enterprise and it covers and categorizes all functional aspects of theenterprise under different categories. The taxonomy should also be extensible to addressnon-document form of outputs as well (Reville et al., 2005). Given this, the taxonomy for any organization is based on both explicit/structuredknowledge as well as tacit/unstructured knowledge. The taxonomy is classified into twolayers, the navigation layer and the content layer. The navigation layer provides theaccess path to the information category as required by the user and the content layerfacilitates a structured format for the storage and access of the right information. Thedetailed link between the knowledge components and the taxonomy is the taxonomycomponents framework.2.2 KM and 3PLNowadays researchers are interested in the practical perspective which considersknowledge in dimensional aspects by looking from the nature of knowledge andoperational domain aspects by looking from organization operational context. Accordingto Kim et al. (2003), knowledge can be classified into two levels: (1) Corporate-related knowledge. Dealing with objective, policy and strategies. (2) Operation-related knowledge. Coping with the detailed of business task or process and uses for decision making and problem solving.For both levels, knowledge can be of internal environment of organization such as policy,strategy, culture, internal processes and external environment such as knowledge
  • 5. BIJ about markets, customer, competition, technology trends or government policy. The18,1 knowledge domains are viewed from different perspectives depending on the organization type and the context of research and 3PL industry can be viewed from this perspective. Outsourcing logistics activities to specialized 3PL providers has become a rapidly expanding source of logistics cost savings, competitive advantage and customer service improvements (Gunasekaran, 2002). The services offered by the 3PL service provider46 can vary from customer to customer. Normally, 3PL service providers and the personnel of 3PL service providers rely on personal experience and knowledge to execute different logistics services. Since the education background and perception between the operations’ personnel and staff members are different, this makes the performance level of 3PL firm fluctuate. KM for 3PL service providers aims at improving the effectiveness of enterprises by raising the standards of efficiency of economic processes. As in companies and the society in general, knowledge has been widely recognized and accepted as strategic resource in the area of logistics too. The success of logistics and supply chain management does not only depend on the intensity and quality of material and information flow in a collaborative relationship. This is also heavily affected by the kind and quality of collaboration between human resources involved on both sides of the collaborative relationship based on knowledge, understanding and trust. To support the success for logistics and supply chain management, there are numerous varieties of methods and software tools available. Sometimes, unfortunately, the available methods and software dominate the creative problem solving. The initiative of KM for 3PL service providers will pave the path for creative problem solving by utilizing the available standard methods and processes of software. KM will help to create, store, access, use and reuse the information to improve the creativity and innovation. An open dialogue about the information is required for all parties to arrive at a common understanding which is the foundation for integrated decision making and united action. Utilizing effective communication to achieve a shared interpretation of disseminated information has been mentioned in strategic management and marketing literature. Cumulative evidence from past research in operations management and other disciplines suggests that managing the ideas and knowledge of individual and organization will support the coordination and collaboration in greater extent (Hult et al., 2004, 2006). Exploration of integration of logistics operation is particularly interesting since logistics operations personnel must focus on both inbound and outbound flows (Kulkarni et al., 2004). The experience is outbound logistics is more of tacit in nature and explicit knowledge lie both in inbound and outbound logistics. There are various ways to capture, create, store, use and reuse tacit and explicit knowledge of logistics. At the same time, the behavioral research is also highlighted in KM. With this view in mind, modern logistics education and training is mostly oriented towards future needs and requirements and it is significantly being changed. The biggest challenge for properly handling the planning of logistics systems and processes and the operation of logistics services by the way of KM methods and tools is to obtain the right knowledge of the right quality and with the right costs at the right place and time. Baumgarten and Thoms (2002) have highlighted that there are challenges in implementing KM solution and running it in the daily logistics business. Major problems observed in literature for the implementation of KM solution are financial limitations, time restrictions, insufficient structuring and presentation of knowledge,
  • 6. as well as methodical misconceptions. Further reasons for the acceptance problems and Taxonomythe slack implementation of KM into logistic services planning, operation and architecturemanagement are existing deficits in measuring the success of KM initiatives. Despite ofthis common understanding, KM has not been considered or implemented in large-scale of KM for 3PL3PL companies or logistics departments of larger firms.2.3 Motivation for research 47No domain has remained untouched by the revolution in managing knowledge.All business firms, companies, etc. want to manage their organizational knowledge tosurvive in today’s market and 3PL is no exception to this phenomenon. However,every domain has specific problem areas concerned in developing KMS such as technicalknowledge bottleneck, lack of expert knowledge, distributed, unstructured anduntraceable knowledge, etc. 3PL is one such domain that emerges to be an industry withpotential problems in applying KM programs as well as potential opportunities byimplementing KM programs. Once organizations embraced the concept that knowledge could make a difference toperformance and that somehow it should be managed better, they often have not knownwhere to start. Insufficient structuring and presentation of knowledge is cited to be oneof the major problems in implementing KM. Therefore, there is a need for models,frameworks, or methodologies that can help corporate executives to understand the sortof KM processes and to identify those that make sense in their context. As the foundation for all activities within the corporation relating to explicit andtacit knowledge, a taxonomy can further a wide range of corporate objectives, such asenabling business processes, protecting intellectual property and building the foundationfor compliance. Each organization requires a different taxonomy because each has uniqueprocesses, organizational configurations, core competencies and histories. However,a unified KM taxonomy framework for a typical business group may be attempted.As explained earlier, the detailed link between the knowledge components and thetaxonomy is the taxonomy components framework. From the literature, it is evidentthat there is no generic base KM taxonomy framework for 3PL service providers for theimplementation of KM solution. There is a need to develop the generic taxonomiccomponents framework with respect to the industry so that it can be taken as a base forthe implementation of KM solution (Chua, 2004). The taxonomy framework will pave thepath for the implementation of KM solution and the activities that fall under the differentknowledge management process such as collection, validation, preparation for sharing,access/sharing, learning, usage, validation, updation and creation (Chua, 2004; El-Dirabyand Zhang, 2006). Marasco (2007) indicated the research need in the domain of knowledgemanagement for 3PL service providers. By combining the interpretations of Chua (2004)and Marasco (2007), it is evident that the development of GTCF for the implementation ofKM solution for 3PL service providers received less attention. It is also clear that there is aneed for research in the domain of KM with the focus on the development of GTCFespecially with the weightage for the KM components. In order to embark a path in theliterature, we made an attempt to devise a generic framework for the KM solutionimplementation for 3PL service providers. Founded on the research background explained, for our research, we havethe following main research questions, derived from detailed literature review anddiscussion with industry experts, which will drive our work:
  • 7. BIJ RQ1. What are the critical KM components and sub-components that drive the18,1 success of 3PL service provider? RQ2. What is the base structure of taxonomy framework to build the KM architecture for 3PL service providers? RQ3. What is the weightage for the selected components of KM taxonomy48 framework? The research problem is, then, to develop: (1) set of KM components and sub-components to build up the effectiveness of organization; (2) propositions for KM components and sub-components and validate them using modified Q-sort method; and (3) base generic KM taxonomy components framework for 3PL service providers based on composite statistical and decision-making model. 3. Research methodology The study of KM and taxonomy development needs a clear understanding of knowledge components. Ideally, to answer our questions we should get a sample of 3PL service providers and experts in the field of 3PL and we should initially collect the KM components and sub-components based on brainstorming and semi-structured interviews. The discussion with 3PL service provider is targeted based on their business vision and mission. The semi-structured discussion with industry experts is based on the collected literature. The idea is to understand the set of components and sub-components which need to be part of KM solution portal so that it will be captured from the organization for use and reuse to enhance the innovation and creativity element. The above scenario, although theoretically and opinion-based possible, has several problems: the first one is related to practical issues. It does not seem realistic that we will be able to obtain a number of organizations that will let us use them as our research grounds. The second problem is related to an important issue that whether these KM components and sub-components will have an impact for the organization effectiveness since many other components and sub-components variables may also affect the performance of the knowledge-intensive business process. Finally, even if we could overcome the first two problems, the time required to accomplish our measurement goals will exceed all practical boundaries up to the point to make this research project obsolete. In order to overcome the problems presented above, we propose to devise a systematic approach. Based on preliminary collection of KM components and sub-components, we need to develop the proposition in order to develop and validate the taxonomy framework. The devised proposition needs to be evaluated statistically for reliability and construct validity. There are various methods to evaluate the propositions and to access the reliability and construct validity. Authors proposed a modified Q-sort method based on the work of Nahm et al. (2002). Based on the results of modified Q-sort method, the GTCF for KM solution implementation will be developed. All the KM components and sub-components cannot be weighed equally and we need to have the GTCF with the weightage. Authors use Delphi method to derive the weightage for KM components and sub-components. Of course, the experiment does have some problems, too. Particularly, we will reduce the generalizability of our conclusions; but we remind
  • 8. the reader that this research project is intended to be an exploratory study for the Taxonomydevelopment of GTCF which can act as a base for any 3PL service provider. architecture3.1 Research framework for taxonomy development of KM for 3PLWe will concentrate on a four-stage approach to developing the taxonomy: . Stage 1: is concerned with collection of terms that seem to represent concepts that are “high value” to the organization. Literature review and interviews with 3PL 49 experts and practitioners help to identify the contents that 3PL providers care about. This also helps toward better understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and understanding the concepts that are important to them. Content analysis is performed to break down the taxonomy into smaller, more easily managed facets leading to the identification of main and sub-components. . Stage 2: is concerned with brainstorming discussions and interviews with subject matter experts both from academia and industry, to form the propositions in developing the taxonomy that is concerned with the classification of items. . Stage 3: is concerned with the evaluation of the propositions to determine if the proposed structure will make sense to the end-users. This is performed by the Q-sort technique wherein several people index the same items and inconsistencies in indexing can point out problems within the taxonomy. It also involves the refining of the taxonomy wherein user and subject matter expert feedback are reviewed and agreed-to changes are incorporated. The review and refining process is continued to build depth into the taxonomy. . Stage 4: is concerned with ordering the components based on relative importance to the particular organization and their level of detail.Figure 1 shows the four stages of the proposed model to devise the GTCF for theimplementation of KM solution for 3PL service providers. The first stage is concernedwith the collection of main and sub-components for KM from the research and businessliterature and pre-structured interviews with top executives and officials of 3PL firms.From the pre-structured interview with top executives and officials of 3PL firms, Step 1: Component collection methodology: detailed literature review of published reports and interaction with experts Step 2: Devise measures based propositions methodology: brainstorming, discussions with academia and industry experts Step 3: Evaluation of the propositions and finalisation of components methodology: a modified Q-Sort method was proposed to evaluate the propositions and to finalize the main and sub-components Figure 1. Four-stage model Step 4: Assigning weightage of the components by delphi analysis for research
  • 9. BIJ we have considered eight critical functions such as transportation, facility structure,18,1 human resource, information and communication, tender details, agreement details, customer service and quality control to form the first level of knowledge taxonomy for this study. This is the first level of taxonomy and termed as “taxonomy main components”. Similarly, from the background of research and business literature and discussions with academia and industry experts, we have devised a set of50 sub-components of each taxonomy main component, which is the second level of taxonomy and it is termed as “taxonomy sub components”. These main and sub-components will help contributor to think, create, store and contribute knowledge in an organized fashion and help the user to access in the same fashion to enhance the use/re-use of knowledge. Any 3PL service provider can use the set of components provided in this study directly for their organization or else they can add or modify the components according to the needs and expectations of the firm. The second stage involves the development of propositions with respect to main and sub-components. We devised the propositions with respect to business and research literature. 3PL service providers can use the same propositions or otherwise they can devise according to their firm. The third stage is concerned with the evaluation of propositions and finalization of the main and sub-components. We proposed a modified Q-sort method to evaluate the propositions and also to finalize the main and sub-components in order to create the taxonomy components framework. Q-sort technique is a statistical tool wherein several people index the same items and inconsistencies in indexing can point out problems within the taxonomy and also the technique lends itself for refining of the taxonomy. All the main and sub-components were scrambled and a questionnaire is developed for evaluation by subject experts. This technique can be directly used for the new/changed propositions, if any, by 3PL service provider. The main and sub-components are finalized based on the reliability and content validity to build up sound taxonomy architecture. It is to be noted that a common framework for KM taxonomy could be inhibited by contextual factors. Taxonomies are the classification scheme used to categorize a set of information items. They represent an agreed vocabulary of topics arranged around a particular theme. A hierarchical taxonomy has a tree-like structure with nodes branching into sub-nodes (as shown in Figure 1) where each node represents a topic with a few descriptive words. The taxonomy presents a hierarchy of descriptive categories or items but even with a detailed taxonomy, the classification scheme cannot convey the relative importance of the taxonomy nodes nor the relationship among the nodes, which is exactly the contextual information needed to transform information into knowledge. The fourth stage is concerned with ordering the components based on relative importance and their level of detail and hence to identify the weightage for each main and sub-components of the GTCF Delphi method is employed. By using the four-stage model, we focused to develop a GTCF with main and sub-components for 3PL service providers as shown in Figure 2. This research is aimed for the development of GTCF which can be taken as base for implementation of KM solution for 3PL service providers; nevertheless, a 3PL service provider can revise the base according to the requirements. In this direction, this research also provides support for 3PL service providers to revise the base based on the four-stage model. If the 3PL service provider wants to redo the whole exercise, then the four-stage model can be leveraged directly to re-create the customized GTCF.
  • 10. KM Taxonomy solution Taxonomy architecture Transportation Facility structure of KM for 3PL Sub-components Sub-components 51 Human resource Information and communication Sub-components Sub-components Tender details Agreement details Sub-components Sub-components Customer service Quality control Figure 2. Generic taxonomy Sub-components Sub-components components framework4. Development of GTCF for KM solution implementationThe four-stage model is explained in detail.4.1 Stage 1: component collectionBased on analysis by industry experts, discussions with senior executives of major3PL service providers and a detailed literature review, we collected the main andsub-components in order to devise the GTCF. The main components considered are: 1. Transportation. 2. Facility structure. 3. Human resource. 4. Information and communication. 5. Tender details. 6. Agreement details. 7. Quality control. 8. Customer service.The sub-components for the main component “transportation” are: 1.1 Transportation booking information. 1.2 Freight bill information. 1.3 Pickup and delivery procedures. 1.4 Transit time information.
  • 11. BIJ 1.5 Insurance and reliability requirements of freight.18,1 1.6 Carrier problems and solutions. 1.7 Container problems and solutions. 1.8 Government regulations for transportation. 1.9 Security of goods in transportation.52 1.10 Transportation performance measures and indicators. 1.11 Transportation network design. 1.12 Shipment problems and solutions. 1.13 Routing and scheduling of vehicles. 1.14 Maintenance of equipments. 1.15 Dock information. The sub-components for the main component “Facility structure” are: 2.1 Warehouse insurance information. 2.2 Consolidation process. 2.3 Facility security information. 2.4 Automation technologies for material handling. 2.5 Shipment problems and solutions. 2.6 Handling of exceptions and failures in warehouse. 2.7 Load planning information. 2.8 Warehouse network design. 2.9 Warehouse requirements. 2.10 Packing information. 2.11 Storing system information. 2.12 Warehouse equipment and shipment tracking and tracing database. The sub-components for the main component “Human resource” are: 3.1 Time standards. 3.2 Workload planning and scheduling. The sub-components for the main component “Information and communication” are: 4.1 Best practices in IT system. 4.2 Warranty information. 4.3 Wireless and mobile solution information. 4.4 Business-to-business portal information. 4.5 E-commerce information. 4.6 Web and legacy system issues. 4.7 Global positioning system information. 4.8 License for information system.
  • 12. The sub-components for the main component “Tender details” are: Taxonomy 5.1 Best practices in tender. architecture 5.2 Effect of termination. of KM for 3PL 5.3 Benchmarking in tender.The sub-components for the main component “Agreement details” are: 53 6.1 Contractual issues. 6.2 Tender agreement parties. 6.3 Definition of agreement terms. 6.4 Object of agreement. 6.5 Liabilities and obligations estimates. 6.6 Terms of delivery and packaging. 6.7 Payment terms. 6.8 Ownership of goods in warehouse. 6.9 Early termination. 6.10 Liability for damages. 6.11 Product liability. 6.12 Applicable law and settlement of disputes. 6.13 Time of validity and termination. 6.14 Return of confidentiality agreement. 6.15 Ownership of intellectual property rights and improvements.The sub-components for the main component “Quality control” are: 7.1 Product audit. 7.2 Quality regulatory requirements. 7.3 Quality policies. 7.4 Quality performance indicators. 7.5 Quality process flows. 7.6 Quality control manuals and procedures. 7.7 Audit manuals. 7.8 Process audit.The sub-components for the main component “Customer service” are: 8.1 Customer emergency orders. 8.2 Customer’s customer database. 8.3 Customer complaint and feedback system. 8.4 Customer performance indicators. 8.5 Customer satisfaction monitoring plans. 8.6 Customer-related problems and solutions.
  • 13. BIJ 8.7 Quality deviations.18,1 8.8 Customer database. 4.2 Stage 2: propositions development for measures The propositions are derived based on brainstorming discussions with academia and industry experts with the list of main and sub-components. The propositions are54 detailed here: P1. All the sub-components or items (1.1-1.15) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “transportation”. P2. All the sub-components or items (2.1-2.12) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “facility structure”. P3. All the sub-components or items (3.1 and 3.2) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “human resource”. P4. All the sub-components or items (4.1-4.8) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “information and communication”. P5. All the sub-components or items (5.1-5.3) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “tender details”. P6. All the sub-components or items (6.1-6.15) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “agreement details”. P7. All the sub-components or items (7.1-7.8) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “quality control”. P8. All the sub-components or items (8.1-8.8) listed in Stage 1 are related to the main component “customer service”. We proposed modified Q-sort method for evaluation of these propositions and to finalize the components in order to develop the GTCF. 4.3 Stage 3: proposition evaluation and components finalization 4.3.1 Item generation and validation using modified Q-sort method. The Q-sort technique is a useful tool for measuring attitudes and is intriguing in several aspects. The Q-sort technique was originally developed by Stephenson in 1935 and was published as a note in Nature, titled “Technique of factor analysis”. The Q-sort provides attitude descriptors selected by the researcher based on content validity, variability and differentiation among individuals. The goal of using Q-sort method is to develop and validate a Q-sort instrument to select the components for KM solution for 3PL service providers. The Q-sort method is an iterative process in which the degree of agreement between judges forms the basis of assessing construct validity and improving the reliability of the constructs. The Q-sort method was devised by Nahm et al. (2002) as a method of assessing reliability and construct validity of questionnaire items that are generated for survey research. This method is modified and applied as a pilot study, which comes after the pre-test and before administering the questionnaire items as a survey (Nahm et al., 2002). The method is simple, cost efficient and accurate and provides sufficient insight into
  • 14. potential problem areas in the questionnaire items that are being tested. The present Taxonomystudy proposes a modified Q-sort technique that helps to check the construct validity as architecturewell as to fit-in the sub-components into the main components in a proper way. Proper generation of measurement items of a construct determines the validity and of KM for 3PLreliability of an empirical research. The KM main components are termed as constructs.The very basic requirement for a good measure is content validity, which means themeasurement items contained in an instrument should cover the major content of a 55construct (Churchill, 1979). Content validity is usually achieved through interviews withpractitioners and academicians. A list of initial items for each construct was generatedbased on a comprehensive review of relevant literature and interviews with practitionersand academicians as explained earlier in Stage 1. Once item pools were created, items forthe various constructs were reviewed by two academicians and a doctoral student, andfurther re-evaluated through a structured interview with one practitioner. The focus is tocheck the relevance of each construct and its definition and clarity of wordings of samplequestionnaire items. Based on the feedback from the academicians and the practitioner,redundant and ambiguous items were either modified or eliminated. New items wereadded whenever deemed necessary. The result was the following number of items ineach pool entering the Q-sort analysis. There were a total of nine pools (including a groupcalled not-applicable) and 72 items as shown in Table I. 4.3.2 Scale development. Items placed in a common pool were subjected totwo Q-sort rounds. The objective was to pre-assess the convergent and discriminantvalidity of the scales by examining how the items were sorted into various factorsor dimensions. The basic procedure was to have relevant respondents representing thetarget population to (in our case, purchasing/materials/supply chain/operations vicepresidents and managers, academicians, 3PL managers and supply chain practitioners)act as judges and sort the items into several groups, each group corresponding to a factoror dimension, based on similarities and differences among items. An indicator ofconstruct validity was the convergence and divergence of items within the categories.If an item was consistently placed within a particular category, then it was considered todemonstrate convergent validity with the related construct, and discriminant validitywith the others. Analysis of inter-judge disagreements about item placement identifiedboth bad items, as well as weakness in the original definitions of constructs. Based on themisplacements made by the judges the items could be examined and inappropriate orambiguous items could be either modified or eliminated.Main components of KM Number of sub-components in main componentTransportation (TR) 15Human resources (HR) 2Tender details (TD) 3Quality control (QC) 8Not applicable (NA)Facility structure (FC) 13 Table I.Information and communication (IC) 8 Components andAgreement details (AD) 15 sub-components of KMCustomer service (CS) 8 for 3PL service provider
  • 15. BIJ 4.3.3 Sorting procedures. A 11-page questionnaire with a covering letter was18,1 prepared and sent to 225 judges which includes the directors/chief executive officer (CEOs)/vice presidents/engineers of outsourcing organizations; directors/CEOs/vice presidents/engineers of 3PL service providers and academicians related to KM domain. Within a gap of three months, we received response from 105 judges and the representative population is shown in Figure 3. The 72 items were presented in the56 questionnaire in a scrambled manner and the definitions of the components were given to the judges. The judges were then asked to fit-in/relate each sub-component to any one of the main components to the best of their knowledge. “not applicable” category was also included to ensure that the judges did not force any item into a particular category. The sample Q-sort questionnaire is shown in Table II. A pair of judges that included a vice president and purchasing manager was also formed to ensure that the perception of the target population is included in the analysis. Judges were allowed to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure they understood the procedure. 4.3.4 Inter-rater reliabilities. To assess the reliability of the sorting conducted by the judges, three different measures were used. First, for the pair of judges in each sorting step, the inter-judge raw agreement scores were calculated. This was done by counting the number of items both judges agreed to place in a certain category. An item was considered as an item with agreement, though the category in which the item was sorted together by both judges may not be the originally intended category. Second, the level 21% 33% Academecians Outsourcing organisations 3PLSPs SCM consultants 16%Figure 3.Description of modifiedQ-sort judges 30% Main components Sub-components of KM TR FS HR IC TD AD CS QC NA Warehouse insurance informationTable II. Notes: TR, transportation; FS, facility structure; HR, human resource; IC, information andSample modified Q-sort communication; TD, tender details; AD, agreement details; CS, customer service; QC, quality controlquestionnaire and NA, not applicable
  • 16. of agreement between the two judges in categorizing the items was measured using TaxonomyCohen’s (1960) Kappa. This index is a method of eliminating chance agreements, thusevaluating the true agreement score between two judges. Third, item placement ratio or architecture(Moore and Benbasat, 1991) hit ratio was calculated by counting all the items that were of KM for 3PLcorrectly sorted into the target category by the judges for each round and dividing themby the total number of items. 4.3.5 Results of first sorting round. In the first round, the inter-judge raw agreement 57score, which is the ratio of number of agreements to total item placement, averaged to 93percent (Table III), the initial overall placement ratio of items within the targetconstructs was 89.72 percent (Table IV), and the Cohen’s Kappa score averaged to 0.918. The calculation for Cohen’s Kappa coefficient is shown below: P N i X ii 2 i ðX iþ X þi Þ K¼ P N 2 2 i ðX iþ X þi Þ iwhere Ni is the number of total items. Judge 1 TR FS HR IC TD AD QC CS NAJudge 2 TR 14 1 FS 12 1 HR 2 IC 7 1 TD 2 1 AD 1 14 QC 8 CS 8 NA Table III.Notes: Total item placement: 72; number of agreements: 67; agreement ratio: 0.93; TR, transportation; Inter-judge rawFS, facility structure; HR, human resource; IC, information and communication; TD, tender details; AD, agreement scores – firstagreement details; CS, customer service; QC, quality control and NA, not applicable sorting round Actual categories TR FC HR IC TD AD QC CS NA %Theoretical categories TR 1,401 95 44 35 88.9 FC 90 1,160 75 40 84.9 HR 210 100 IC 10 20 745 65 88.6 TD 262 53 83.1 AD 40 39 125 1,325 15 31 84.1 QC 840 100 CS 840 100 NANotes: Total item placements: 7,560; number of agreements: 6,783; overall “hit ratio”: 89.72 percent; TR, Table IV.transportation; FS, facility structure; HR, human resource; IC, information and communication; TD, Items placement ratios:tender details; AD, agreement details; CS, customer service; QC, quality control and NA, not applicable first sorting round
  • 17. BIJ Xii is the total number of items on the diagonal (the number of items agreed on18,1 by two judges). Xiþ is the total number of the items on the ith row of the table. X þ i is the total number of items on the ith column of the table: ð72Þð67Þ 2 76858 K¼ ¼ 0:918 ð72Þð72Þ 2 768 For Kappa, no general agreement exists with respect to required scores. However, several studies have considered scores greater than 0.65 to be acceptable (Jarvenpaa, 1989). Landis and Koch (1977) have provided a more detailed guideline to interpret Kappa by associating different values of this index to the degree of agreement beyond chance. They suggest the following guideline: Value of Kappa – Degree of agreement beyond chance 0.76-1.00 – excellent 0.40-0.75 – fair to good (moderate) 0.39 or less – poor Following the guidelines of Landis and Koch (1977) for interpreting the Kappa coefficient, the value of 0.918 indicates an excellent level of agreement (beyond chance) for the judges in the first round. However, this value is lower than the value for raw agreement which is 0.93. The level of item placement ratios averaged to 0.897. For instance, the lowest item placement ratio value was 0.831 for the component “tender detail”, 0.841 for the component “agreement details”, 0.849 for the component “facility structure”, 0.886 for the component “information and communication” and 0.889 for the component “transportation” indicating a comparatively low degree of construct validity. Feedback from both judges was obtained on each item and incorporated into the modification of the items and in this case, overall, five items were deleted. The deleted items are container problems and solutions from transportation component, automation technologies for material handling from facility structure component, effect of termination from tender details component, return of confidentiality agreement from agreement details component and web and legacy system issues from information and communication components. The numbers of items for each construct after the first round of modified Q-sort are shown in Table V. There were a total of nine pools and 67 items. Main components of KM Number of sub-components in main component Transportation (TR) 14 Human resources (HR) 2 Tender details (TD) 2 Quality control (QC) 8Table V. Not applicable (NA)Components and Facility structure (FC) 12sub-components after Information and communication (IC) 7first round of modified Agreement details (AD) 14Q-sort method Customer service (CS) 8
  • 18. 4.3.6 Results of second sorting round. Again, same judges were involved in the second Taxonomysorting round. In the second round, the inter-judge raw agreement scores averaged to architecture100 percent, the initial overall placement ratio of items within the target constructs was100 percent and the Cohen’s Kappa score averaged to 1.00. At this point, we stopped the of KM for 3PLQ-sort method at round two, for the raw agreement score of 1.0, Cohen’s Kappa of 1.0, andthe average placement ratio of 1.0 which were considered an excellent level of inter-judgeagreement, indicating a high level of reliability and construct validity. Based on the 59modified Q-sort method, we devised the GTCF for the implementation of KM solution for3PL service providers which is shown in Figure 4.4.4 Stage 4: Delphi analysisThe Delphi method was developed in the mid-1950s by researchers at the RandCorporation. The Delphi technique was conceived as a way to predict the impactof technologies or interventions on complex systems, and was thus used frequentlyin the social and health-care context (Sackman, 1975). The Delphi method istraditionally based on three fundamental concepts. The first concept is anonymity. Theparticipants never know each other during the process. Each participant submits hisor her opinions independently, by completing an especially designed questionnaire. Thereplies are then disclosed to all participants, without disclosing the name of theparticular respondent. The second concept is controlled feedback. The process consistsof several rounds, during each of which the respondents are asked to judge all theopinions expressed in the previous rounds, which are often presented in the form ofstatistics. The last concept is statistical group response. The Delphi method reaches a“collective opinion” or a “collective decision” and expresses it in terms of a statisticalscore. 4.4.1 Delphi panel and data collection. From the modified Q-sort method, we have67 strategies for developing the GTCF for the implementation of KM solution for 3PLservice providers. The main goal of the Delphi research is to assign weightage for each ofthe main and sub-components. The Delphi panel members were considered eligible forDelphi panel if they were employed in top positions in 3PL industries or working assupply chain management consultants in leading outsourcing organizations. A total of70 members were identified as eligible for panel membership and were mailed a lettersoliciting their participation in the study. A total of 30 members volunteered tobecome panel members and participate in the data-collection process. The panelcomprised of 53 percent supply chain management consultants from the leadingoutsourcing organizations and 47 percent the top officials of the 3PL service providers.The panel members were mailed a four-page questionnaire and a covering letter.The panel members were asked to indicate their relative importance of the varioussub-components, reflecting the weightage of that sub-component, on a 1-5 Likert scale.The cover letter described the purpose of the research and instructed the panel membersto return the questionnaires only if they were willing to participate in the study.Panelists were given a two-week return date deadline in the cover letter. We received allthe 30 filled-in questionnaires within 20 days. 4.4.2 Delphi analysis. The Delphi analysis for the weightage of KM components ofGTCF of 3PL service providers is tabulated in Table VI. The weightage for the mainand sub-components are determined as the ratio of the mean of observations of allrespondents to the maximum scale value, namely 5.
  • 19. BIJ18,160 KM Taxonomy solution Transportation • Transportation booking information • Freight bill information • Pick-up and delivery procedures • Transit time information • Insurance and reliability requirements of freight • Carrier problems and solutions • Government regulations for transportation • Security of goods in transportation • Transportation performance measures and indicators • Transportation network design • Shipment problems and solutions • Routing and scheduling of vehicles • Maintenance of equipments • Dock information Facility structure • Warehouse insurance information • Consolidation process • Facility security information • Shipment problems and solutions • Handling of exceptions and failures in warehouse • Load planning information • Warehouse network design • Warehouse requirements • Packing information • Storing system information • Warehouse equipment and shipment tracking and tracing database Human • Time standards resources • Work load planning and scheduling Information and • Best practices in IT system communication • Warranty information • Wireless and mobile solution information • Business to business portal information • E-commerce information • Global positioning system information • License for information system (continued)Figure 4.GTCF based on modifiedQ-sort method
  • 20. KM Taxonomy solution Taxonomy architecture Tender details • Best practices in tender of KM for 3PL • Benchmarking in tender • Contractual issues Agreement details • Tender agreement parties 61 • Definition of agreement terms • Object of agreement • Liabilities and obligations estimates • Terms of delivery and packaging • Payment terms • Ownership of goods in warehouse • Early termination • Liability for damages • Product liability • Applicable law and settlement of disputes • Time of validity and termination • Ownership of intellectual property rights and improvements Quality control • Product audit • Quality regulatory requirements • Quality policies • Quality performance indicators Information and • Quality process flows communication • Quality control manuals and procedures • Audit manuals • Process audit Customer service • Customer emergency orders • Customer’s customer database • Customer complaint and feedback system • Customer performance indicators • Customer satisfaction monitoring plans • Customer related problems and solutions • Quality deviations • Customer database Figure 4.4.5 Respondents commentsThe GTCF of KM was shared with the respondents and their feedback with regard to thepotential utility of the proposed framework was sought. Many of the respondentsexpressed that the GTCF will be very useful and they can use this as a base for theimplementation of KM solution for the organization. Comments stated by some ofthe respondents are provided below: It’s an excellent base framework and any 3PL service provider can leverage this efficiently – Senior Design Specialist, International Chemical Company, India. We are really happy that now we can use this directly for our organization for the implementation of KM Solution – Consultant, Multi National Company Private Limited, India.
  • 21. BIJ S. no. KM main and sub-components for GTCF Weightage18,1 1 Transportation 0.920 1.1 Transportation booking information 0.877 1.2 Freight bill information 0.921 1.3 Pick-up and delivery procedures 0.649 1.4 Transit time information 0.70962 1.5 Insurance and reliability requirements of freight 0.591 1.6 Carrier problems and solutions 0.548 1.7 Government regulations for transportation 0.465 1.8 Security of goods in transportation 0.830 1.9 Transportation performance measures and indicators 0.662 1.10 Transportation network design 0.482 1.11 Shipment problems and solutions 0.607 1.12 Routing and scheduling of vehicles 0.615 1.13 Maintenance of equipments 0.446 1.14 Dock information 0.552 2 Facility structure 0.812 2.1 Warehouse insurance information 0.643 2.2 Consolidation process 0.587 2.3 Facility security information 0.535 2.4 Shipment problems and solutions 0.724 2.5 Handling of exceptions and failures in warehouse 0.773 2.6 Load planning information 0.510 2.7 Warehouse network design 0.643 2.8 Warehouse requirements 0.670 2.9 Packing information 0.613 2.10 Storing system information 0.611 2.11 Warehouse equipment 0.488 2.12 Shipment tracking and tracing database 0.606 3 Human resource 0.5466 3.1 Time standards 0.541 3.2 Workload planning and scheduling 0.639 4 Information and communication 0.76 4.1 Best practices in IT system 0.719 4.2 Warranty information 0.629 4.3 Wireless and mobile solution information 0.551 4.4 Business to business portal information 0.710 4.5 E-commerce information 0.429 4.6 Global positioning system information 0.375 4.7 License for information system 0.431 5 Tender details 0.653 5.1 Best practices in tender 0.600 5.2 Benchmarking in tender 0.526 6 Agreement details 0.666 6.1 Contractual issues 0.400 6.2 Tender agreement parties 0.466 6.3 Definition of agreement terms 0.480 6.4 Object of agreement 0.440 6.5 Liabilities and obligations estimates 0.533Table VI. 6.6 Terms of delivery and packaging 0.560Weightage of KM 6.7 Payment terms 0.853components of GTCF of 6.8 Ownership of goods in warehouse 0.7063PL service providers (continued)
  • 22. TaxonomyS. no. KM main and sub-components for GTCF Weightage architecture6.9 Early termination 0.520 of KM for 3PL6.10 Liability for damages 0.7606.11 Product liability 0.5336.12 Applicable law and settlement of disputes 0.5736.13 Time of validity and termination 0.720 636.14 Ownership of intellectual property rights and improvements 0.6667 Quality control 0.9467.1 Product audit 0.9067.2 Quality regulatory requirements 0.8407.3 Quality policies 0.9067.4 Quality performance indicators 0.8007.5 Quality process flows 0.9067.6 Quality control manuals and procedures 0.8667.7 Audit manuals 0.8937.8 Process audit 0.8528 Customer service 0.9338.1 Customer emergency orders 0.8938.2 Customer’s customer database 0.9068.3 Customer complaint and feedback system 0.8408.4 Customer performance indicators 0.9068.5 Customer satisfaction monitoring plans 0.7738.6 Customer-related problems and solutions 0.8808.7 Quality deviations 0.6268.8 Customer database 0.813 Table VI. GTCF can act as decision support framework for Indian 3PL service provider and this will be enhanced as expert system – Faculty, University of Louborough, UK. 3PL service provider can use GTCF framework and can easily fit according to the requirements of the organization – Analyst, AFL Logistics Private Limited, India. Lot of scope for easy implementation of KM using this GTCF of KM. A decision support system can be developed to execute the process for any 3PL service provider – Executive Engineer, Lakshmi Machine Works, Limited, Coimbatore, India.5. DiscussionThe GTCF developed in this paper can be directly taken as base for any 3PL serviceprovider in building KM solution and the practice managers may concentrate on thecomponents based on the weightage derived based on Delphi analysis. The keyfunctions that play a more significant contribution towards building a KM solutioncan be identified. The study indicates, for example, that the practice managers shouldconcentrate more on freight bill information, transportation booking information andsecurity of goods in transportation considering the transportation function. Handling ofexceptions and failures in warehouse, shipment problems and solutions and warehouserequirements are found to be the critical components that need prime attention as far asfacility structure is concerned. Workload planning and scheduling is the primecomponent of the human resource function. Practice managers need to concentrate onbest practices in IT system and warranty information in the context of informationand communication function. Payment terms, liability for damages, time of validity
  • 23. BIJ and termination and ownership of goods in warehouse of agreement details function are18,1 the critical components that need focused attention. Product audit, quality process flows, quality policies and audit manuals of quality control function are the key components that should be given more importance by the practice managers. In the aspect of customer service function, customer’s customer database, customer performance indicators and customer emergency orders are the significant components that should64 be concentrated by the KM managers. The main strength of the framework proposed in this article is that it: . identifies the key components for the KM framework for 3PL service providers; . explicitly links the defining components and sub-components; . formulates a generic KM taxonomy framework; and . determines the weightage of each component and sub-component with the respective appropriate management instruments. A careful diagnosis of the KM components and sub-components for the GTCF is carried out and any organization can apply this framework as an analytical and action-oriented management tool. However, it is to be noted that when selecting a KM solution to implement, it needs to be tied to the core issues and business drivers for that company or field as KM solutions are not “one-size-fits-all” and need to be tailored for each organization. Such a diagnosis will allow top management to adapt a required and customized design of the KM taxonomy solution in relation to the specificity of the business priorities. This implies the need for management’s continuous (re)assessment and (re)action rather than isolated, discrete and informal management initiatives. A few major lessons for practicing managers from our research stand out. First, the implementation of KM solution for 3PL service provider, as discussed in this paper, typically requires a GTCF. The KM solution needs to be developed, implemented and maintained. The implementation plan of KM solution includes various KM components and sub-components. Therefore, implementation of KM solution may not be feasible if there is no preparation of a basic conceptual framework which is indeed necessary for all knowledge-intensive organizations. A second lesson is that the implementation of a KM solution for 3PL service provider requires attention to critical components pertaining to strategic, organizational and human issues such as transportation, facility structure, human resources, information and communication, tender details, agreement details, quality control and customer service. Correctly identifying the KM components category and paying due attention according to the weightage of the components involved combined with careful management interventions may reduce negative effects of changing economic conditions and thus enhance the likelihood of success. The strategic, organizational and human issues are closely related as linkages in the components. In fact, it is difficult to imagine management in general and KM in particular in today’s organizations without applying certain strategies and policies. Neither is it possible to exclude the organizational and the human factors from the set of KM considerations and practices. Recognizing the importance of these dimensions and their mutual interdependencies does not, however, extricate the pressure among the decision makers/strategic planners when it comes to concrete management actions. It is an idealistic view to recommend treating all the components as equally important all the time in terms of top management attention. One way of coping with this situation
  • 24. is to shift the priority based on the weightage and also considering the internal and external Taxonomycircumstances while keeping in mind (and never fully ignoring) the other issues. architecture Third, attempt to implement the KM solution based on generic taxonomiccomponents framework requires more financial, organizational and human resources of KM for 3PLand without serious commitment of these resources it is unlikely to lead to success.Therefore, a careful estimation of both the amount and quality of the resources neededfor the design and development of KM solution is needed. While it is impossible to 65predict the exact duration of the period for implementation of KM solution, it is clear thata premature transition to another category may compromise the entire KM solutiondevelopment project and have longer term negative consequences on both the attitudesand actual behaviors of organizational members in relation to knowledge creation andsharing as well as financial and strategic impact. Finally, whether companies are able and willing to invest in KM solutions isdependent on whether these systems promise to deliver important and clear benefits.The latter is often wrongly taken for granted. Therefore, it is worth developing achecklist of components with weightage that need to be seriously considered beforeinvesting in a KM solution. As a sum up, it is highly relevant to conduct a carefulanalysis of current and future needs in terms of implementation of KM solutions beforeembarking on this demanding journey. Such an analysis is likely to benefit fromattention to the main elements outlined in the framework. Many efforts in establishingKM solutions fail because management neglect to integrate strategy related, structuraland cultural elements simultaneously, but rather tend to focus on only some of thesewhile ignoring others. The target customer for this research is logistics service providersand the research can be strengthened by focusing on fourth-party logistics provider. In recent times, there is a demand for developing an understanding of the link betweenKM and business performance. Of particular interest is to explore how KM can supportcompanies in improving their performances and also the role of benchmarking in thiscontext. Researchers have started investigating how benchmarking can contribute toexploring and exploiting the link between KM initiatives and business performance fororganizational value creation. Marr (2004) argues that organizational competenciesare based on intellectual capacity (IC) and their improvement takes place through themanagement of IC or KM, which is at the heart of business performance improvement andvalue creation. Knowledge processes are the critical link between IC and businessperformance. In order to execute strategy, organizations need to understand processes onan operational level and for this reason, the usage of operational knowledge processbenchmarking is suggested. Further as posited by Massa and Testa (2004) benchmarking,looking outside the firm boundaries and performing comparison with others in terms ofboth practices and performances, enables the process of acquiring external explicit/tacitknowledge. Such acquired knowledge, once integrated with previous internal knowledgeof the firm, creates new knowledge that may give rise to improvements and innovations. To conclude, creating a consistent classification framework will allow us to achievegreater efficiency, effectiveness and innovation. Nevertheless, we cannot blindly pursuethis and only both continuously and vigilantly measuring and adapting our tools to userprocesses and needs can ensure that we are truly achieving the goals of KM to quicklyand precisely share and reuse knowledge throughout the enterprise wheneverand wherever it is needed. And in this direction, it is believed, that the present workcontributes significantly.
  • 25. BIJ 5.1 Future research directions18,1 The future research can be targeted on the following ways: it is construed that the proposed GTCF can be adopted by any company in the 3PL business either directly in its present form or with incorporation of suitable changes according to their context and priorities. However, the practical application of the proposed approach stands to be done and work may be extended in this regard. The way of considering the phases66 and work flows for guiding KM project implementation utilizing the GTCF is needed. The practical issues concerned with the implementation of KMS in 3PL business as well as its influence on business outcomes are to be explored. Also, the problem of incorporating the metrics for KM and knowledge processing in GTCF and the issue of how it can be linked to business outcomes needs attention of researchers. The sustainable innovation and the way of conceptualization in GTCF can also be considered for future research. The consideration of comprehensive goal of KM policies and programs to maximize transparency and sustainable innovation can be an extension in GTCF. 6. Conclusion This research makes several important contributions toward the objective of better understanding the role of 3PL operations in knowledge creation. First, it develops a more comprehensive theoretical and operational approach to the shared interpretation process by adopting a theoretical framework that emerges from knowledge-related literature. Based on the detailed literature review of published reports and observations, discussion from industry experts, semi-structured interviews with directors, managers and professional consultant and using sound theory building methods, this study proposed a set of taxonomy components of various functions of organization for the implementation of KM for 3PL service providers. We proposed a four-stage model to develop GTCF which is critical for the implementation of KM solution for 3PL service providers. We proposed modified Q-sort method and used Delphi analysis in the four-stage model. 3PL service providers can employ this model for creating a new customized taxonomy components framework. If the present set of components suits well to the needs and expectations of the firm, then this can be used directly for the implementation of KM solution. Further, any 3PL service provider can take this GTCF as a base and devise according to the needs of their industry for implementation of KM solution. This GTCF for KM implementation will help contributor to think, create, store and contribute knowledge in an organized fashion and help the user to access in the same fashion to enhance the use/re-use of knowledge. References Baumgarten, H. and Thoms, J. (2002), Trends und Strategies in the Logistic – Supply Chains, Wandel, Berlin. Bharadwaj, A. (2000), “A resource-based perspective on information technology and firm performance: an empirical investigation”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 169-96. Chua, A. (2004), “Knowledge management system architecture: a bridge between KM consultants and technologists”, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 187-98. Churchill, G.A. (1979), “A paradigm for developing better measures of marketing constructs”, Journal of Marketing Studies, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 64-73.
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