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 Haas
School of Business
at the University of California, Berkeley, on
November 3, 2017, during the school’s annual gala. Dr. Nonaka has been a
pioneer in creating the field of knowledge management and studying the
impact of knowledge creation on product development and innovation.

Berkeley-Haas Dean Rich Lyons applauded Nonaka’s lasting impact on the
business world. “Nonaka has transformed how people drive innovation
together,” said Lyons. “Applying a humanistic lens and practical wisdom
to his research, he has developed new frameworks for how organizations
can transcend simply managing data to using the knowledge within their
organizations to create better outcomes. We are proud to call him an
alumnus and even more honored to celebrate him with this much-deserved

“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 UC
Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “He has remained a loyal and
passionate supporter of the University and the free exchange of ideas by
hosting faculty and students in Japan as well as by arranging access to
data and research contacts. He is a national treasure in Japan, but the
impact of his insight and wisdom has been deeply felt at Berkeley and

Nonaka, 82, a professor emeritus at the Graduate School of International
Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi
, worked for many years at Fuji Electric in Japan, where
he created the company’s first management development program. He came
to Berkeley in 1967, earning an MBA in 1968 and a PhD in business
administration in 1972. At Berkeley, he also studied sociology, which
heavily influenced his theories on business throughout his career.

“Dr. Jiro Nonaka has contributed enormously to the theory and practice
of innovation management and has deepened our understanding of knowledge
creation in large organizations,” said David Teece, the Thomas W. Tusher
Professor in Global Business and faculty director of the Tusher Center
for The Management of Intellectual Capital at Berkeley-Haas. “Dr. Nonaka
is well known to leading executives in Asia, Europe, and North America.
He has helped businesses learn and transform, just as he himself has
learned and transformed over his long and successful career. The global
recognition he has received is quite remarkable and is a wonderful
tribute to his graduate education at Berkeley-Haas.”

Along with his longtime collaborator, Harvard Business School Professor
Hirotaka Takeuchi, MBA 71, Ph.D. 77, whom he met at Berkeley-Haas,
Nonaka argued that knowledge creation within companies is a source of
competitive advantage. The two introduced the concept in an influential
article, “The Knowledge-Creating Company,” published in Harvard
Business Review
in 1991. Their subsequent book, The
Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics
of Innovation
(Oxford University Press, 1995), won the Association
of American Publishers’ Best Book of the Year Award in business and
management 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 Japanese
industry and management with that of the rest of the world.” In 2011,
Nonaka and Takeuchi’s article, “The Wise Leader,” published in Harvard
Business Review
, argued that the best executives strive for the
common good. In 2013, Nonaka won the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement
Award and was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

In Japan, Nonaka has earned a Purple Medal of Honor from the government
for his contribution to academia and delivered an Imperial New Year’s
Lecture by invite of the Emperor of Japan, the first-ever Japanese
professor in the field of business administration and management to be
asked to do so.

Nonaka is perhaps best known for his creation of the
Socialization-Externalization-Combination-Internalization (SECI) model
to explain how firms can best generate knowledge and understanding and
bring new products to market. The model rejects the linear model of idea
creation in favor of Nonaka’s SECI spiral, which describes a ceaseless
flow of cyclical interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge among
groups and individuals. The model can facilitate the development of
innovative products.

Another of Nonaka’s contributions to the field of management was the
recognition of the key role middle managers can play in knowledge
creation within a company. During downsizing in the 1990s, when many
U.S. firms were laying off middle managers to save costs, Nonaka argued
they could be a vital bridge in translating the vision of upper
management into execution by frontline staff.

In 1997, Nonaka became the Haas School’s first Xerox Distinguished
Professor in Knowledge, the first professorship in the nation dedicated
to the study of knowledge and its impact on business. He has remained a
passionate champion of Berkeley, which he has called “the Athens of the
Pacific” and has continued to support the school with visits, academic
exchanges, and participation in co-hosting conferences.

The school’s highest honor, the Berkeley-Haas Lifetime Achievement Award
is reserved for exceptional leaders who have made a significant impact
through their professional accomplishments and who embody the Defining
Principles of Berkeley-Haas: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without
Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. The award has only been
given four times before, to financier and philanthropist Warren Hellman;
Blum Capital Partners Chairman Richard Blum; World Bank President Tom
Clausen; and Levi Strauss CEO Peter Haas. Nonaka is the first academic
professor to receive the award.

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

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