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Title: Transfer and integration of human resources management knowledge within dynamic supply chains : cases from the automotive aftermarket distribution system in China
Author: Yu, Tiecheng
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 1244
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the scope for the transfer and integration of human resources management (HRM) knowledge to provide the basis for the development of more productive and efficient supply chains, in the specific case of the aftermarket distribution channels of multinational companies in the automotive industry in China. Most studies of human resources management, supply chain management, and knowledge transfer have focused on internal transfer within multinational companies and there has been more limited research on the transfer of such knowledge across organisations in the supply chain, particularly in relation to distribution channels. Thus the starting point for the research was to understand the preconditions, mechanisms and effects on the distribution supply chain of the transfer and integration of HRM knowledge. To explore these issues the thesis compares and contrasts a poorly performing supply chain (that is Company J's supply chain) with two more successful supply chains in the automotive aftersales market (that is those of Company M and Company S). The aim was to identify whether the poorly performing supply chain could learn from the other two cases through a detailed exploration of the motivators and mediators that facilitate or hinder processes of HRM transfer and integration, and the outcomes of these processes on the performance of the supply chains and the manufacturers and distributors within the supply chains. A qualitative research approach was utilised. Data was gathered through one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with senior-level management, mid-level management, and frontline staff from the manufacturers and wholesale distributors in the three automotive aftermarket distribution channels and analysed using computer-assisted coding software, NVivo. In line with the extant literature, the thesis findings support the proposition that a relational supply chain network based on trust facilitates HRM knowledge transfer and integration, and provides a basis for competitive advantage in the supply chain. At the same time the findings suggest some important extensions to current knowledge and understanding of the processes and impact of HRM knowledge transfer. Firstly the research found that consideration should be given to recategorising the classic division between tacit and explicit knowledge with respect to HRM into fundamental and differential categories, in order to more clearly differentiate the type of strategic HRM knowledge transfer that could provide the basis for competitive advantage. Likewise the study found that it is not the mechanism of transfer- whether through systems or by inter-person channels- that should be the criteria to categorise knowledge, as a blended approach involving both types of transfer mechanisms was associated with better transfer effectiveness. Third the type of HRM to be transferred needs to fit the specific needs of distributors within the supply chain; in practice the best fit for this part of the supply chain can be considered a mix of paternalistic and transaction HRM, rather than the so-called 'best' practice HRM. Finally although there was potential in principle for the underperforming supply chain to learn from the experiences and practices of the higher performing supply chains, the extent to which Company J was likely to be able to emulate the more successful chains was constrained by significant internal barriers to learning (for example the pressure for short-term gains and the time needed to build trust, the lack of internal HRM expertise and the lack of local decision-making authority). However, an even more major constraint on the learning process came from the dynamic changes in the aftermarket distribution system that had the potential even to disrupt the trust-based partnerships in the exemplar supply chains. Thus the scope for applying the lessons from past practice, which has been the major focus of the comparative investigation of the three supply chains, may be limited by both the variations in internal conditions and by the fact that the key challenges for future development may be different from those faced in the automotive aftersales market in the past.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Small and Medium-sized Enterprise ; Multi-National Company ; knowledge integration ; Supply Chain Management ; Human Resources Management ; knowledge transfer