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Article
Publication date: 27 August 2019

Geoffrey Wood and Christine Bischoff

The central purpose of this paper is to explore how implicit knowledge capabilities and sharing helps secure organizational survival and success. This article explores the…

Abstract

Purpose

The central purpose of this paper is to explore how implicit knowledge capabilities and sharing helps secure organizational survival and success. This article explores the challenging in better management knowledge in the South African clothing and textile industry. In moving from a closed protected market supported by active industrial policy, South African manufacturing has faced intense competition from abroad. The ending of apartheid removed a major source of workplace tension, facilitating the adoption of higher value-added production paradigms. However, most South African clothing and textile firms have battled to cope, given cutthroat international competition. The authors focus on firms that have accorded particularly detailed attention to two instances characterized by innovative knowledge management. The authors highlight how circumstances may impose constraints and challenges and how they paradoxically also create opportunities, which may enable firms to survive and thrive through the recognition and utilization of informal knowledge, both individual and collective.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on in-depth interviews, primary company and industry association and secondary documents.

Findings

The study highlights how successful firms implemented systems, policies and practices for the better capturing and utilization of external and internal knowledge. In terms of the former, a move toward fast fashion required and drove far-reaching organizational restructuring and change. This made for a greater integration of knowledge through the value chain, ranging from design to retail. Successful firms also owed their survival to the recognition and usage of internal informal knowledge. At the same time this process was not without tensions and paradoxes, and the findings suggest that many of the solutions followed a process of experimentation. The latter is in sharp contrast to many South African manufacturers, who, with the global articulation of production networks, have lost valuable knowledge on suppliers and their practices. At the same time, both firms have to contend with an increasingly unpredictable international environment.

Research limitations/implications

At a theoretical level, the study points to the need to see informal knowledge not only in individualistic terms but also as a phenomenon that has collective, and indeed, communitarian features. Again, it highlights the challenges of nurturing and optimizing informal knowledge. It shows how contextual features both constrain and enable this process. It further highlights the extent to which the effective utilization of external knowledge, and rapid responses to external developments, may require a fundamental rethinking of organizational structures and hierarchies. This study focuses on a limited number of dimensions of this in a single national context but could be replicated and extended into other contexts.

Practical implications

The study highlights the relationship between survival, success and how knowledge is managed. This involved harnessing the informal knowledge and capabilities of workforce to enhance productivity, in conjunction with improvements in machinery and processes, and a much closer integration of design, supply, production and marketing, underpinned by a more effective usage of IT. Paradoxically, other clothing and textile firms have survived doing the exact opposite – reverting to low value-added cut-and-trim assembly operations. At a policy level, the study highlights how specific features of South African regulation (above all, in terms of job protection), which are often held up as barriers to competiveness, may help sustain the knowledge base of firms.

Social implications

The preservation and creation of jobs in a highly competitive sector was bound up with effective knowledge management. The study also highlighted the mutual interdependence of employers and employees in a context of very high unemployment and how the more effective usage of informal knowledge bound both sides closer.

Originality/value

There is a fairly diverse body of literature on manufacturing in South Africa, and, indeed across the continent; however, much of it has focused on challenges. This study explores relative success stories from a sector that has faced a structural crisis of competitiveness, and as such, has relevance to understanding how firms and industries may cope in highly adverse circumstances.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2008

Geoffrey Wood and Keith Glaister

This study aims to assess the relationship between unionization and employee collectivism, and managerial strategies for employee participation and involvement, within an…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to assess the relationship between unionization and employee collectivism, and managerial strategies for employee participation and involvement, within an emerging market economy that has prioritized export competitiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper centres on a survey of South African employees

Findings

The paper reveals the coexistence of high levels of union power, with a range of mechanisms for participation and involvement.

Practical implications

The South African experience underscores the extent to which greater regulation of the employment contract (through law and unions) can be complementary to both high value added manufacturing strategies and robust export performance. The South African case further highlights both the bounded and institutionally constrained nature of strategy formulation, yet also the willingness of clusters of firms to experiment with alternative strategies, albeit with mixed results: strategy and action represent a product of both setting and real strategic choices.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the extent to which greater collectivism and regulation within the workplace may contribute to economic success within an emerging market context.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2019

Vincent Onyango, Paola Gazzola and Geoffrey Wood

The purpose of this paper is to establish the evidence for, the why and how recent austerity policy atmosphere associated with the UK government affected environmental…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to establish the evidence for, the why and how recent austerity policy atmosphere associated with the UK government affected environmental protection decisions within planning in Scotland.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative analysis based on perspectives gathered via questionnaire survey targeted at stakeholders involved in planning in Scotland was undertaken. The questionnaire responses were analysed thematically, supplemented by using statistical tests of significance and variance to show how responses differed across participants.

Findings

The evidence showed that austerity policy atmosphere resulted in a pervasive neoliberal imperative of resuscitating the economy; whilst producing subtle and adverse effects on environmental decisions. This was best understood within a neo-Gramscian perspective of hegemony, borrowed from the field of political economy of states.

Research limitations/implications

The gathered views were constrained within unknown biases that the participants may have had; and because the case study approach was not equipped to generalise the results beyond the study, more research testing cause-effect between the austerity and selected environmental parameters is needed, from various contexts.

Practical implications

Decision-making frameworks should explicitly acknowledge the unique pressures during austerity periods; and contemplate resilient decision-making frameworks that can withstand the hegemonic tendencies which prioritise economic goals above environmental ones.

Originality/value

Whilst the area of austerity’s impacts on the environment remains poorly evidenced, empirically, this seminal paper uses robust analysis to establish how the austerity policy atmosphere affects environmental decisions. This is insight into what may be happening in other similar situations outside Scotland, raising concern as to whether and how we should approach the challenge of hegemonic ideas.

Details

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7835

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 January 2020

Emanuel Gomes, Miguel Pina e Cunha, David B. Zoogah, Geoffrey Wood and Peter Ping Li

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Abstract

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 27 June 2008

Geoffrey Wood

This introduction aims to review the present state of research on employment relations in Africa, and provide an overview of subsequent papers.

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2882

Abstract

Purpose

This introduction aims to review the present state of research on employment relations in Africa, and provide an overview of subsequent papers.

Design/methodology/approach

The article provides a brief review on the journal issue.

Findings

Despite considerable diversity across the continent, a number of common issues and themes emerge. These would include the sharp divide between formal and informal work, the problems faced by unions in organizing in contexts where formal employment is shrinking, and the often negative effects of liberalization. What all the articles in this special issue point to is that the prospects of enhancing the quality of working life, and imparting greater fairness to the implementation of the employment contract is contingent on both national institution building – allowing for the nurturing of complementarities conducive to the expansion, entrenchment and development of higher value added production paradigms – and fairer terms, more equitable relations with the developed world.

Practical implications

Understanding of the practice of employment relations in Africa can be greatly advanced through collaborative initiatives aimed at developing the capacity of emerging scholars and ensuring that the work of more mature scholars of employment based at African universities receives the exposure it deserves.

Originality/value

The article introduces the papers in the issue.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2016

Satwinder Singh, Geoffrey Wood, Jaithen Alharbi and Tamer K. Darwish

This purpose of this paper is to explore variations in the extent of control mechanisms, according to country of origin and organizational characteristics, in a…

Abstract

Purpose

This purpose of this paper is to explore variations in the extent of control mechanisms, according to country of origin and organizational characteristics, in a challenging country of domicile.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey research design involving the use of a questionnaire as the primary data source was adopted. A total of 350 subsidiaries were initially randomly selected and contacted in person, or via telephone and e-mail, of which 147 agreed to take part in the study and responded to the survey.

Findings

The authors find that Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) from highly financialized Liberal Market Economies will be associated with a greater reliance on formalized control mechanisms; this will enable the MNE’s headquarters to closely monitor subsidiary managers according to objective measures, to ensure that the maximum shareholder value is released.

Research limitations/implications

This study reveals a greater reliance on control mechanisms in larger firms, reflecting a desire to maximize bureaucratic economies of scale.

Practical implications

The authors find that the presence of expatriates regardless of country of origin leads to greater decentralization, suggesting foreign firms do not trust local staff.

Originality/value

This is one of the few studies of this nature conducted for the region of Middle East – and the only one the authors are aware of for Saudi Arabia. Further, it sheds new light on the impact of contextual circumstances on how closely firms monitor their subsidiaries, the challenges of doing business in the Gulf region and the consequences of the large-scale usage of expatriates.

Details

Multinational Business Review, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1525-383X

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Tamer K. Darwish, Abdul Fattaah Mohamed, Geoffrey Wood, Satwinder Singh and Jocelyne Fleming

The resource curse literature suggests that firms operating in non-oil and non-gas industries in petrostates face considerable challenges in securing competitiveness and…

Abstract

Purpose

The resource curse literature suggests that firms operating in non-oil and non-gas industries in petrostates face considerable challenges in securing competitiveness and sustaining themselves. Based on a firm-level survey within a micro-petrostate, Brunei, the purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between specific HR policies and practices and organisational performance; analyse, compare, and contrast oil and gas with non-oil and non-gas sectors; and draw out the comparative lessons for understanding the potential and performance consequences of HR interventions in resource-centred national economies.

Design/methodology/approach

Data for this study were generated from a primary survey administered amongst the HR directors in companies operating in all sectors in Brunei. A statistically representative sample size of 214 was selected.

Findings

The authors confirmed that firms in the oil and gas sector indeed performed better than other sectors. However, the authors found that the negative effects associated with operating outside of oil and gas could be mitigated through strategic choices: the strategic involvement of HR directors in the affairs of the company reduced employee turnover and added positively to financial returns across sectors.

Practical implications

Developing and enhancing the role of people management is still very much easier than bringing about structural institutional reforms: the study confirms that at least part of the solution to contextual difficulties lies within, and that the firm-level consequences of the resource curse can be ameliorated through a strategic choice.

Originality/value

The nature of the present investigation is one of few studies conducted in South East Asia in general and in the context of Brunei, in particular. It also contributes to the authors’ understanding whether HR interventions can ameliorate the challenges of operating in a non-resource sector in a resource-rich country.

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Article
Publication date: 6 July 2018

Pauline Dibben, Geoffrey Wood and Rachel O’Hara

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate existing evidence on whether return to work interventions achieve employment outcomes and are cost effective in order to better…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate existing evidence on whether return to work interventions achieve employment outcomes and are cost effective in order to better inform those needing accommodations at work, as well as their line managers and trade union representatives, occupational health specialists and HR managers.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a systematic narrative review to evaluate the evidence on the employment outcomes and cost effectiveness of return to work initiatives.

Findings

Evidence on interventions for musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back pain indicates that certain forms of intervention such as vocational rehabilitation and workplace-based rehabilitation facilitate outcomes such as employment, reduced sick leave and effective return to work. However, there is very little evidence on whether these interventions are cost effective. More generally there are glaring gaps in evidence on cardio-respiratory (heart and breathing) and mental health conditions with regard to both employment outcomes and the cost of interventions.

Research limitations/implications

This systematic review has critical and timely implications for both knowledge development and practice. While highlighting methodological limitations in the existing research base, it also presents avenues for further research on return work strategies and the factors inhibiting and facilitating their adoption and effective operation.

Originality/value

Although there is much existent literature on the return to work process, far less attention has been paid to the employment outcomes and cost effectiveness of interventions. This paper highlights the interventions for musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back conditions that may result in positive employment outcomes, with implications for practice. However, it also highlights gaps in evidence on the employment outcomes and cost effectiveness of interventions for cardio-respiratory (heart and breathing) and mental health conditions.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 40 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2001

Geoffrey E. Wood

This paper considers what purposes regulation and supervision of financial institutions are designed to serve. Historical experience with regulation and supervision is…

Abstract

This paper considers what purposes regulation and supervision of financial institutions are designed to serve. Historical experience with regulation and supervision is considered, and it is argued on the basis of that examination that a fairly ‘light touch’ in regulation is likely to achieve the objectives that governments and citizens require regulation to achieve. Accordingly, the paper concludes that when regulation is evaluated and compared against unregulated systems, one should be careful to compare fallible regulation with fallible markets, rather than implicitly assuming regulation is perfect. Otherwise over‐regulation will result.

Details

Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1358-1988

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Article
Publication date: 28 June 2011

Zsolt Bedo, Mehmet Demirbag and Geoffrey Wood

This article seeks to explore some of the principal issues and debates on the relationship between institutions, firm level governance and employment relations outcomes in…

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1239

Abstract

Purpose

This article seeks to explore some of the principal issues and debates on the relationship between institutions, firm level governance and employment relations outcomes in Eastern and Central Europe.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper particularly focuses on the countries that are encompassed by the papers covering the special issue.

Findings

Introducing new and meaningful forms of labour regulation becomes very much more difficult in times of economic crisis. This means that the regulation of employment relations is likely to be diminished, or, as is probably more likely in the case of the bulk of countries in the region, a situation of “muddling on” is likely to persist. Firm level employment relations practices are likely to be persistently diverse, both within and between countries. Key areas of division are in terms of country clusters, which range from proto‐social democratic through to “wild capitalist”, distinguished by variations in terms of firm size, and between the formal and informal economies.

Practical implications

This study highlights the extent to which institutional variations and change may mould the choices made at firm level.

Originality/value

There is a tendency to conflate the region into a loose transitional category. This paper highlights the divergent paths followed by the countries in the region, and the extent to which this has been associated by diversity in employment relations both within and between countries.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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