The relationship of organizational learning processes and capabilities in customer knowledge management: a case study of a Finnish management consulting company

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Research objective Due to the significance of tacit knowledge in management consulting industry, the successful customer knowledge management (CKM) is critical. Furthermore, when client relationships are crucial, the efficient CKM can create obvious business benefits. The research object is case company’s strategic client teams, which serve company’s strategic clients, which are big (i.e. different industries, organizational structures, and locations). Therefore, the research context is particularly interesting due to the importance of CKM in these client teams. The goal of this thesis is to explore the relationship of organizational learning processes and capabilities in CKM. Because there is limited research in linking these constructs together and hence the further goal of this thesis is to provide new insights on how CKM is influenced by organizational learning processes and capabilities in the context of a Finnish management consulting company. Methodology The foundations of this thesis lie in a qualitative single case study and utilization of abductive research approach. Research data was collected through ten semi-structured one-to-one interviews with strategic client team members. Organizational learning processes acted as the main theoretical framework in the interviews. The research data was analyzed through thematic content analysis. Research Findings The main findings of this study were based on linking the CKM, organizational learning processes, and capabilities. Organizational learning processes facilitated the understanding through which processes the client teams manage customer knowledge and the capabilities that influence both CKM and organizational learning processes. It was explored that especially the market-sensing capability was strongly linked to organizational learning processes. Additionally, organizational learning processes are strongly interrelated influencing each other in different phases of organizational learning. Thus, organizational learning should not be viewed as a straightforward process. Furthermore, of the organizational learning processes, organizational memory was the most significant process in facilitating information acquisition, distribution, and utilization. Also, organizational memory and information and storage and retrieval processes related to it were the key development points in the case company. Regarding the management of customer knowledge, assets including customer database, data quality, and human resources were crucial elements in facilitating organizational capabilities and learning processes. Overall, the relationships of CKM, learning processes, and capabilities should be comprehended in enhancing the management of customer knowledge.
Thesis advisor
Lindblom, Arto
Mitronen, Lasse
customer knowledge management, organizational learning processes, organizational capabilities, management consulting company
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