MSc Candidate Management
Telfer School of Management
KIBS providers are organizations that perform knowledge intensive business activities, mainly for other organizations and in the present age have become key components of industrialized economies. The primary purpose of KIBS providers is to deliver customized solutions to clients through the implementation of three core knowledge processes: knowledge acquisition, knowledge recombination, and knowledge diffusion. Existing research has predominantly focused on understanding the importance of these providers in creating a competitive edge for their clients. However, little is known in terms of how such providers can create an improved competitive position for themselves. Therefore, this research helps to understand whether the use of knowledge processes influences the competitive advantage of KIBS providers. A guiding framework developed from literature posits that such generic knowledge processes may provide competitive advantage for a given provider if they are transformed into valuable, rare, inimitable, and well-exploited resources (VRIO). The study follows a holistic multiple case study research design of three IT service providers to refine the existing theory on the influence of knowledge processes on the competitive advantage of KIBS providers. Data was collected through interviews of employees occupying different roles in a company to provide their perspectives on the various parts of the framework. The findings of this study reveal that participants perceive knowledge processes to provide competitive advantage to their companies. However, data analysis using the VRIO framework indicates that knowledge processes do not confer competitive advantage by themselves, but rather through an emerging theme called delivery. Findings also indicate that delivery influences other factors of competitive advantage. The study contributes to the existing literature as it leads to a refined understanding of the relationship between knowledge processes and competitive advantage by highlighting the importance of delivery as a dynamic capability. The study has practical implications for managers as it informs them to focus on delivery to achieve competitive advantage. This capability also helps to improve brand name, reduce costs, and achieve client satisfaction.