This report examines the implications of Knowledge Management (KM) within Gucci Group, an international house of fashion based in Italy. Founded in 1923, Gucci became a multi-brand luxury goods group in 1999. The company, which has a long-standing international reputation in the fashion industry, uses knowledge management mainly “to share knowledge within the other brands of the Group, successfully building the Group’s market share in the luxury goods industry” (Gucci Group, 2005, p. 1).
The first section of the report reviews selected literature on knowledge management. In particular, various definitions and conceptualizations of KM are examined to identify the main themes and dimensions of the phenomenon (including type of knowledge, organisational culture and identity, procedure, expertise, strategy and cultural barriers) in order to see why and how these dimensions are relevant to the analysis of KM in Gucci. In addition, the study reflects on a face-to-face interview with a member of the Logistic Division of the Gucci Group aimed at critically analysing the modus operandi and orientation of the company towards knowledge management.
The rationale behind this analysis is to investigate the role of knowledge management within Gucci Group and to examine how knowledge management affects approaches to company management. In essence, this study has aimed to 1) Trace the historical evolution and survey the state of knowledge of the concept of KM, reviewing how the concept has been conceptualized and defined in the specialised literature; 2) identify the main categories and dimensions of the concept of knowledge management in order to inform the research, and; 3) assess the relevance of the Knowledge Management discipline in the Gucci Group.
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Results show that, albeit recognised as a competitive asset in Gucci, knowledge has not been fully conceptualised or explicitly managed within the organisation. In particular, knowledge management is perceived more as a personal initiative rather than a key factor of the corporate vision. The KM approach is mainly developed through training sessions, tutoring activities and online self-learning courses, thus taking into account only limited aspects of how KM is conceptualized in the literature. These findings are additionally confirmed by the absence of a Knowledge Management division or department within the Gucci Group. Results also show an overall “tacitness” of the KM system in the Gucci organization, where the absence of an explicit knowledge culture can be read as a symptom of a missing alignment between the knowledge culture and the knowledge objectives.
In addition, the presence of cultural barriers concretely prevents the knowledge culture from being implemented. Although knowledge sharing and creation are well considered within Gucci, there are still some aspects of the KM system, such as the KM storage, which are either not in practice or have been only partially employed. This lack of a knowledge culture may find explanation in the hierarchical structure, expressed by the vertical knowledge organisation.
Conversely, horizontal interactions could increase the level of interactivity, collaboration as well as a good reuse of the existing knowledge. Further research could be developed within other fashion maisons to examine the development of KM in the luxury sector. In addition, future studies could aim to better understand barriers to KM development, perhaps by making a comparison with the other Gucci associated brands
|Date of Award
|Wyn Morris (Supervisor)