Abstract Paper aims To provide guidance on formulating and clarifying research questions from abstract and broad ideas. Originality Reports of empirical research invariably offer limited insights on the opaque process of developing research questions, aims and objectives. Moreover, we are not aware of a similar discussion within this journal, as well as other management journals. Research method This is a theoretical paper. Main findings Among other factors, our discussion highlights the role of theory and self-reflection in the process of research topic refinement. We consider the nature and types of theoretical contribution a research project can make, highlighting some common reasons why journal submissions are often rejected due to failure to provide a theoretical contribution. Implications for theory and practice Greater reflexivity in this process should ultimately lead to clearer theoretical contributions and more manageable research topics, with greater practical and societal relevance.
Abstract Paper aims This research aims to evaluate factors that influence knowledge sharing in automotive production context in Brazil and China. Originality Despite the growing recognition of the factors that enable knowledge sharing in organizations, our understanding about the unique challenges encountered by the blue-collar workers in a production context is rather limited. Also, the paper raises issues and challenges involved for production organizations to engage in cross-national knowledge sharing, which remain relatively under-explored. Research method Drawing on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) approach, we conduct a comparative survey among the production managers in five automotive plants in China and Brazil. The AHP approach is based on Objective: Promote knowledge sharing among production workers; Criteria of knowledge conversion as Socialization, Externalization, Internalization; and Alternatives as Structure, Communication, Training, Incentive, Standard Operating Procedure, Problem Solving Methodology. The methodology focused on the 3 Brazilian and 2 Chinese automotive plants in our fieldwork. Main findings While many authors argue that socialization (dialogue) is the key form of worker knowledge sharing, our findings indicate that workers and managers perceive internalisation as more important in the automotive context. The significant differences between Chinese and Brazilian workers on the relative importance they attributed to knowledge sharing processes and corresponding enabling factors reinforce our understanding about the challenges of knowledge sharing across cultures and lends support to a more particularistic debate of knowledge management. While automotive workers in Brazil preferred to receive more training and better incentive schemes as essential knowledge sharing support mechanisms, Chinese workers valued more standardization through structure and standard operation procedures. The study reaffirms the role of knowledge sharing in continuous improvement and incremental innovation in shop floor operations. Implications for theory and practice In lieu of the gaps in the extant literature, this research aims to further identify and evaluate factors that influence cross-national knowledge sharing in automotive production contexts. The research addressed the gaps to promote supportive ways to provide employees interaction, best practices and lessons learning sharing.