UC Berkeley press release


First professorship in knowledge created at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business; leading Japanese scholar will hold first post

by David Irons

Berkeley -- The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley today (May 19) created the nation's first professorship dedicated to the study of knowledge and its impact on business. The Xerox Distinguished Professorship in Knowledge is funded by a $1 million donation given jointly by Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., and Xerox Corporation.

"Employee knowledge is the key force that drives organizational innovation," said William A. Hasler, dean of the business school, at a press conference. "Creating and disseminating knowledge is also critically important to a firm's long-term productivity. The best competitors are firms that are most adept in diffusing the key knowledge of their employees throughout the organization."

"This gift," he said, "will help to make the Haas School a center for innovative thinking in this area."

Ikujiro Nonaka, who received both his MBA and his PhD in business from UC Berkeley, was chosen by the Haas School faculty to hold the first Xerox Distinguished Professorship as a visiting professor. A well-known professor of management at Hitotsubashi University, Nonaka has long been one of Japan's foremost authorities on developing and using the intellectual capital of workers to create and expand business knowledge.

With co-author Hirotaka Takeuchi, Nonaka wrote "The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation." Published in 1995, the book continues to be the best-selling title on the Oxford University Press business list. It has been widely praised for illuminating the complex processes underlying the creation, capture, dissemination and utilization of knowledge in the workplace.

Yotaro Kobayashi, chairman and chief executive officer of Fuji Xerox, and Paul Allaire, chairman and CEO of Xerox, jointly announced the endowment of the visiting professorship and expressed their pleasure at the school's endorsement of Nonaka, who has been a long-standing advisor to and collaborator with Fuji Xerox in the areas of business management and organizational design affecting knowledge creation .

"We are extremely pleased to advance knowledge research through the establishment of a knowledge professorship at the Haas School," said Kobayashi, "and we are particularly delighted to honor Professor Nonaka for his outstanding and inspiring achievements in the field of knowledge research."

Xerox's chief scientist, John Seely Brown, said, "The establishment of this permanent visiting professorship, along with the appointment of Professor Nonaka, will bring welcome stimulation and thought leadership to this field.

"Not only can the shrewd utilization of inherent knowledge assets promote corporate competitiveness, but it can also lay the foundation for the 'knowledge society' of which we are all becoming a part," said Brown, who heads the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and has an abiding interest in the development of ideal learning and knowledge-creating environments.

Fuji Xerox and Xerox have been partners for 35 years and often are cited as models of successful business collaboration between companies in Japan and the United States.

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