Knowledge alignment on sustainability within IKEA the Netherlands
Kulve, L. ten
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Businesses need to become more sustainable given the many sustainability challenges that lie ahead. To succeed in this mission and gain or sustain a competitive advantage, a clear vision on sustainability needs to be implemented. According to the resource based view theory, a competitive advantage is gained or sustained by the unique resources of a company. Knowledge is such a unique resource of a company. In order to improve the firm performance in gaining or sustaining competitive advantage, knowledge needs to be aligned between the employees and the organization. Therefore, knowledge needs to be transferred within the company. This study looks at three factors that could influence such alignment on sustainability knowledge. Transfer of knowledge in the company occurs between individuals, groups and the company as a whole. Different types of groups include formal (i.e. members of the group are predetermined) and informal (i.e. members that share the same characteristics) groups, which are two main factors that are examined in this study. The third factor examined in this study is successful knowledge transfer. Successful knowledge transfer includes the communication of sustainability knowledge within the company. To create an overview of this alignment within a company, and thereby creating the ability to study the three factors, a survey was conducted among the employees working at IKEA in the Netherlands. Twelve stores and two offices participated in this study, 310 participants completed the survey, thereby representing 5.6% of IKEA in the Netherlands. The results showed significant differences in alignment in several subgroups of the three factors examined. In the formal group, higher functional level corresponded with more alignment. Similarly, training in the informal groups proved to make a strong difference on alignment. Those familiar with training scored significantly higher on alignment than those without. This stresses the importance of training with regards to alignment on sustainability knowledge. Lastly, the more successful the knowledge transfer (i.e. people read and find information about the sustainability knowledge), the better the alignment on sustainability knowledge. This supports the value of knowledge transfer in an organization. It can be concluded that alignment on sustainability knowledge is strongest influenced by function level, familiarity with training and successful knowledge transfer.