Knowledge Management Pioneer Ikujiro Nonaka to Receive Berkeley-Haas’ Lifetime Achievement Award

BERKELEY, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka, one of the world’s top academic management scholars,will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the HaasSchool of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, onNovember 3, 2017, during the school’s annual gala. Dr. Nonaka has been apioneer in creating the field of knowledge management and studying theimpact of knowledge creation on product development and innovation.

Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons applauded Nonaka’s lasting impact on thebusiness world. “Nonaka has transformed how people drive innovationtogether,” said Lyons. “Applying a humanistic lens and practical wisdomto his research, he has developed new frameworks for how organizationscan transcend simply managing data to using the knowledge within theirorganizations to create better outcomes. We are proud to call him analumnus and even more honored to celebrate him with this much-deservedaward.”

“No one has done more to shape knowledge management than Ikujiro Nonaka,and he is one of Berkeley’s most esteemed alumni in Asia,” said UCBerkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “He has remained a loyal andpassionate supporter of the University and the free exchange of ideas byhosting faculty and students in Japan as well as by arranging access todata and research contacts. He is a national treasure in Japan, but theimpact of his insight and wisdom has been deeply felt at Berkeley andbeyond.”

Nonaka, 82, a professor emeritus at the Graduate School of InternationalCorporate Strategy at HitotsubashiUniversity, worked for many years at Fuji Electric in Japan, wherehe created the company’s first management development program. He cameto Berkeley in 1967, earning an MBA in 1968 and a PhD in businessadministration in 1972. At Berkeley, he also studied sociology, whichheavily influenced his theories on business throughout his career.

“Dr. Jiro Nonaka has contributed enormously to the theory and practiceof innovation management and has deepened our understanding of knowledgecreation in large organizations,” said David Teece, the Thomas W. TusherProfessor in Global Business and faculty director of the Tusher Centerfor The Management of Intellectual Capital at Berkeley-Haas. “Dr. Nonakais well known to leading executives in Asia, Europe, and North America.He has helped businesses learn and transform, just as he himself haslearned and transformed over his long and successful career. The globalrecognition he has received is quite remarkable and is a wonderfultribute to his graduate education at Berkeley-Haas.”

Along with his longtime collaborator, Harvard Business School ProfessorHirotaka Takeuchi, MBA 71, Ph.D. 77, whom he met at Berkeley-Haas,Nonaka argued that knowledge creation within companies is a source ofcompetitive advantage. The two introduced the concept in an influentialarticle, “The Knowledge-Creating Company,” published in HarvardBusiness Review in 1991. Their subsequent book, TheKnowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamicsof Innovation (Oxford University Press, 1995), won the Associationof American Publishers’ Best Book of the Year Award in business andmanagement and has proved important in advancing the field of management.

In 2009, the Economist’s “Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus”credited Nonaka as one of three such “gurus” who “connected Japaneseindustry and management with that of the rest of the world.” In 2011,Nonaka and Takeuchi’s article, “The Wise Leader,” published in HarvardBusiness Review, argued that the best executives strive for thecommon good. In 2013, Nonaka won the Thinkers50 Lifetime AchievementAward and was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

In Japan, Nonaka has earned a Purple Medal of Honor from the governmentfor his contribution to academia and delivered an Imperial New Year’sLecture by invite of the Emperor of Japan, the first-ever Japaneseprofessor in the field of business administration and management to beasked to do so.

Nonaka is perhaps best known for his creation of theSocialization-Externalization-Combination-Internalization (SECI) modelto explain how firms can best generate knowledge and understanding andbring new products to market. The model rejects the linear model of ideacreation in favor of Nonaka’s SECI spiral, which describes a ceaselessflow of cyclical interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge amonggroups and individuals. The model can facilitate the development ofinnovative products.

Another of Nonaka’s contributions to the field of management was therecognition of the key role middle managers can play in knowledgecreation within a company. During downsizing in the 1990s, when manyU.S. firms were laying off middle managers to save costs, Nonaka arguedthey could be a vital bridge in translating the vision of uppermanagement into execution by frontline staff.

In 1997, Nonaka became the Haas School’s first Xerox DistinguishedProfessor in Knowledge, the first professorship in the nation dedicatedto the study of knowledge and its impact on business. He has remained apassionate champion of Berkeley, which he has called “the Athens of thePacific” and has continued to support the school with visits, academicexchanges, and participation in co-hosting conferences.

The school’s highest honor, the Berkeley-Haas Lifetime Achievement Awardis reserved for exceptional leaders who have made a significant impactthrough their professional accomplishments and who embody the DefiningPrinciples of Berkeley-Haas: Question the Status Quo, Confidence WithoutAttitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. The award has only beengiven four times before, to financier and philanthropist Warren Hellman;Blum Capital Partners Chairman Richard Blum; World Bank President TomClausen; and Levi Strauss CEO Peter Haas. Nonaka is the first academicprofessor to receive the award.

Berkeley-Haas’ Institute for Business Innovation and the Tusher Centerfor the Management of Intellectual Capital will follow up the Novembercelebration by hosting a Festschrift in Nonaka’s name on campus in 2018.

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