Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2012 (Revised August 2012)

Global Knowledge Management at Danone (A) (Abridged)

by Amy C. Edmondson and David Lane

Abstract

This case explores French consumer goods company Danone's novel approach to knowledge management. In 2007, Human Resource Chief (Executive Vice President) Franck Mougin assesses the company's knowledge-sharing tools and considers his options going forward. Through informal knowledge marketplaces and sharing networks, Danone had helped managers connect with each other and share good practices peer-to-peer, rather than relying on traditional hierarchical lines of communication or IT repositories. From 2004 to 2007, Mougin and his team had found that 5,000 Danone managers around the world—the company conducted business in 120 countries—had shared about 640 now-documented good practices. In 2007, the strategic importance of saving time in a decentralized organization through adoption of colleagues' good practices was put to a test. Should the knowledge management tools be extended to include all employees and external partners on a regular basis? And on top of sharing good practices, could it be extended to include the creation of new solutions and processes? Would this require more formalization of processes and more tracking of results? The case illustrates Mougin's options on taking knowledge management into the future of Danone.

Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Employee Relationship Management; Knowledge Management; Knowledge Sharing; Social and Collaborative Networks; Expansion; Consumer Products Industry; France;

Citation:

Edmondson, Amy C., and David Lane. "Global Knowledge Management at Danone (A) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 613-003, July 2012. (Revised August 2012.)