Purpose: Within the context of high global competitiveness, knowledge management (KM) has proven to be one of the major factors contributing to enhanced business outcomes. Furthermore, knowledge sharing (KS) is one of the most critical of all KM activities. From a manufacturing industry perspective, supply chain management (SCM) and product development process (PDP) activities, require a high proportion of company resources such as budget and manpower. Therefore, manufacturing companies are striving to strengthen SCM, PDP and KS activities in order to accelerate rates of manufacturing process improvement, ultimately resulting in higher levels of business performance (BP). A theoretical framework along with a number of hypotheses are proposed and empirically tested through correlation, factor and path analyses. Design/methodology/approach: A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of electronic manufacturing companies operating in Taiwan to facilitate testing the proposed relationships. More than 170 respondents from 83 organisations responded to the survey. The study identified top management commitment and employee empowerment, supplier evaluation and selection, and design simplification and modular design as the key business activities that are strongly associated with the business performance. Findings: The empirical study supports that key manufacturing business activities (i.e., SCM, PDP, and KS) are positively associated with BP. The findings also revealed that some specific business activities such as SCMF1, PDPF2, and KSF1 have the strongest influencing power on particular business outcomes (i.e., BPF1 and BPF2) within the context of electronic manufacturing companies operating in Taiwan. Practical implications: The finding regarding the relationship between SCM and BP identified the essential role of supplier evaluation and selection in improving business competitiveness and long term performance. The process of forming knowledge in companies, such as creation, storage/retrieval, and transfer do not necessarily lead to enhanced business performance; only through effectively applying knowledge to the right person at the right time does. Originality/value: Based on this finding it is recommended that companies should involve suppliers in partnerships to continuously improve operations and enhance product design efforts, which would ultimately enhance business performance. Business performance depends more on an employee's ability to turn knowledge into effective action.