Exploring the relationship between innovation, knowledge management, and the use of advanced technologies applications in Dutch manufacturing industry

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From the moment Germany presented its strategic plan to improve its competitiveness, the Industry 4.0 trend gained traction. This trend is defined as the development of advanced technologies for productivity and efficiency, where digitalisation often takes place, for example, in the production process, the way of working, the supply chain and the product. Countries such as China, Japan are leading the way, with Dutch manufacturers struggling to adopt advanced technologies. The literature continues to debate the right balance between internal and external innovation for the implementation of advanced technologies. In addition, it is unclear how knowledge management can facilitate the adoption of advanced technology applications within Industry 4.0. Therefore, this research investigates the effect of internal and external innovation moderated by knowledge management activities on the adoption of advanced technology applications in smart manufacturing within the Dutch manufacturing industry. This study is a mixed-methods study, which means that both quantitative and qualitative analyses are used. The quantitative analysis was conducted using the European Manufacturing Survey 2018 and linear regression analysis, and the qualitative analysis was conducted using seven semi-structured interviews with Dutch manufacturing companies. The quantitative and qualitative analysis produced different results. For example, the quantitative analysis only shows that internal innovation has a positive influence and external innovation has a negative influence on the use of advanced technological applications. However, the qualitative analysis clearly shows that external innovation can have a positive influence if the use of advanced technologies applications becomes too complex and the knowledge is not available. Some knowledge management activities can also have a positive influence by generating new ideas, thinking more critically and preventing resistance. Thus, internal innovation and external innovation, depending on the complexity and knowledge available, promote the use of advanced technological applications. Finally, certain knowledge management activities also facilitate this process.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen