A knowledge management perspective on environmental life cycle management: A manufacturing company example

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this thesis is to broaden the understanding of environmental life cycle management (LCM). This aim has a two dimensional approach; one empirical and one theoretical. Paper I focuses on LCM in the existing literature and LCM in practice, and paper II explores the inclusion of knowledge management into LCM. This thesis’ essay applies theoretical insights from paper II on the empirical field material from paper I, and provides a knowledge management perspective on LCM in practice.The idea of LCM is to stretch environmental consideration from a corporate perspective to a product chain perspective. Proposed critical success factors to LCM, for example, the importance of communication, interaction, collaboration and integration, revolve to a large extent around the idea that LCM efforts need to be integrated in organizations’ business operations and functions. However, detailed empirical studies on how LCM is managed in practice are scarce. A study of LCM in practice at a multinational company has been conducted, pointing to the difficulties of integration and identifying several integration paths: by targeting structural aspects such as inclusion of sustainability aspects in tools and processes; using networks and social interaction to create commitment and integration; or finding ways to work around certain organizational levels to more easily work with LCM internally in the organization.Critical success factors to LCM integration highlighted in the literature are also much discussed in the knowledge management field, from where additional insights have been sought, to further understand and develop LCM. Which implicit assumptions LCM practitioners have of knowledge thus leads to differences in how LCM integration is managed. Knowledge management can be said to have two leading perspectives; the objectified knowledge and the situated knowing perspectives. The study identified that solutions to LCM integration were sought mainly in an objectified knowledge perspective, yet, there is potential of utilizing insights also from a situated knowing perspective.