Knowledge management as competitive advantage: lessons from the textile and apparal value chain

Paula Danskin, Basil G. Englis, Michael R. Solomon, Marla Goldsmith, Jennifer Davey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this research is to investigate knowledge management in the textile industry specifically through the relationships and interconnections of knowledge management systems, strategy and firm performance across the value chain.

    Design/methodology/approach: This research examines the process of acquisition, retention, maintenance, and retrieval of knowledge both within the firm through organizational memory and across the value chain. A series of case studies examines how Invista (a Du Pont subsidiary) manages knowledge internally and externally through relationships with downstream partners across a single value‐chain within the textile industry. Qualitative interviews assess the “state of the industry” regarding knowledge management systems.

    Findings: Differentiation through knowledge is difficult in practice. Invista has taken the first steps to develop knowledge management systems that connect the internal and external knowledge base to gain competitive advantage. Establishing internal knowledge management systems for organizational memory creates opportunities to minimize knowledge isolation in functional departments and creates a greater base for tacit learning to be leveraged. External knowledge management systems bring value chain members closer together and add value to the product (i.e. increased quality, customer perceptions of brand platforms) throughout the value chain. Active external knowledge systems create opportunities to reap the full benefits of internal knowledge and knowledge from other firms within the network.

    Originality/value: This paper describes the process of acquisition, retention, maintenance, and retrieval of knowledge within the firm by improving organizational memory and across the value chain through knowledge management systems to gain competitive advantage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-102
    JournalJournal of knowledge management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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