Mapping intellectual capital in a small manufacturing enterprise

DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/14691930110380491
Pages53-60
Publication Date01 Mar 2001
AuthorMichael S.H. Heng
SubjectAccounting & finance,HR & organizational behaviour,Information & knowledge management
Mapping
intellectual
capital
53
Journal of Intellectual Capital,
Vol. 2 No. 1, 2001, pp. 53-60.
#MCB University Press, 1469-1930
Mapping intellectual capital in
a small manufacturing
enterprise
Michael S.H. Heng
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Keywords Knowledge mapping, ISO 9000, Small-to-medium-sized enterprises
Abstract The US$1.2 million company faces critical issues of management succession, business
strategy, market expansion and innovative product improvements. These would prevent a steady
flow of future potential earnings. The core knowledge resides in the management team who has
worked in the factory from young. They have not patented the equipment designs or the
proprietary processes. The first step in managing its intellectual capital uses the framework of the
ISO 9000 standard to provide a mapping structure for capturing its core knowledge in products,
process, management and customers. The focus on quality sets the context for shaping and
organising the work of capturing its core knowledge. The ISO 9000 standard provides convenient
categories for knowledge mapping, and presents a common language for consultant-client
interaction during the mapping process. A limitation in using the ISO 9000 standard for
knowledge mapping is its inability to map knowledge concerning the customer base and product
opportunities.
Company background
The organisation is a US$1.2 million company that produces a flavouring
cooking oil for markets in Southeast Asia, China and Europe. The company
brand name is a household name in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It has also
achieved the International Quality Mode Selection Gold Medal every year from
1988 to 1992. It is family-owned, and the senior members of the current nine-
member management team are in their late 40s and 50s. Founded in 1953 by
their late father, they have worked in the company from young and now
manage the company without any written procedural or instructional manuals
relating to equipment or the day-to-day operations. Neither have the company
patented the equipment designs or the proprietary processes. The core
knowledge evidently resides in the management team.
The eldest brother is the managing director and leads the management team.
They have realised that the absence of modern management in the company
has posed obstacles to timely responses to changes in the environment, to
exploiting the potential of information technology as well as the recruitment of
business-trained executives. The absence of written operational procedures
further prevents the effective training of new production operators. At the
general management level, the company faces critical issues of management
succession, business strategy, market expansion and innovative product
improvements. These would prevent a steady flow of future potential earnings,
unless they can manage its various core capabilities and core competencies.
This article describes the actions embarked on in the company to capture its
core knowledge in products, process, management and customers.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
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