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Abstract

From 1994 through 2000, Nortel Networks transformed itself from a technology-focused to an opportunity/customer-focused company. By 2000, Nortel was a profitable, innovative leader in the telecommunications industry. The change was the result of an ambitious effort to redesign its entire new product development (NPD) process such that time-to-market was significantly reduced. NPD is highly knowledge-intensive work based on the individual and collective expertise of employees. The primary focus of this case study is on Nortel’s efforts to reengineer the front-end of its NPD process and capitalize on knowledge assets. This effort was built around a process-oriented knowledge management (KM) strategy, involving a tripartite and systematic focus on process, people, and technology. Through our case analysis we develop a model of KM success by exploring Nortel’s KM strategy and the managerial, resource, and environmental factors that influenced Nortel’s success. Nortel’s experiences suggest lessons for other firms attempting to manage knowledge assets in core business processes.

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