Knowledge Management at SMEs

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6 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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2004/12/12

OASIS 2004 Workshop

1

Knowledge Management at SMEs

Yukika Awazu
1

Kevin C. Desouza
1,2


Institute for Engaged Business Research, The Engaged Enterprise
1


Dept. of Information & Decision Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
2

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OASIS 2004 Workshop

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Introduction


Managing knowledge is a critical capability for SMEs to master
because it helps them leverage their most critical resource.


Organizational knowledge is the most salient resource at the
disposal of SMEs in terms of availability, access, and depth.


Successful SMEs are those who can leverage their knowledge in
an effective and efficient manner, so as to make up for
deficiencies in traditional resources, like land, labor, and capital.


In our research, we discovered that SMEs do not manage
knowledge the same way as larger organizations.


We draw our findings from a nine month investigation of
knowledge management practices at 25 SMEs.

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1:
Dominance of Socialization in
the SECI Cycle


SECI Cycle


(Nonaka et al. 1995 )


Knowledge creating cycle comprises of four
activities: socialization, externalization,
combination, and internalization (SECI).


In SMEs we found the presence of
S
ECI

model
-

a variant of the SECI model


Socialization

was the predominant way through
which knowledge transfer occurred from owner
to employees and between employees.

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2:
Common Knowledge


In SMEs, each employee is given a deep introduction
into the way the SME conducts business.


Facilitates ease of communication and sensemaking.


Forms a shared context for interpretation and
communication.


Emphasized by training initiatives


Results in e
ach employee had very similar foundation
and grounding in organizational matters.


In larger organizations, for the most part, employees
have scant “
common knowledge
” due to excessive
specialization of duties and distributed nature of work
assignments.

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3: Knowledge Loss


Not a
Problem


SMEs never considered it a real problem or
issue.


The core knowledge is held by the
owner/managers of the organization.


Deliberate mechanisms in place to prevent
knowledge loss from becoming a problem.


Promotions from within the Organization


Backups in terms of Knowledge Work


Presence of Common Knowledge

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4:
Exploitation of External
Sources of Knowledge


Appetite and ability to exploit foreign sources of
knowledge


Utilization of ready
-
made knowledge of external
sources


Well
-
connected to local communities


Reason
: SMEs cannot afford to invest resources in
the creation of new knowledge, as they are starved
for resources, especially during the initial conception
and growth stages.

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5:
People Centered Knowledge
Management


Technology is almost
never

used as a central
means to manage knowledge.


Knowledge is created, shared, transferred,
and applied via people based mechanisms
such as face
-
to
-
face meetings, observations,
apprenticeship, etc.


Knowledge generated is immediately put into
practice, rather than being stored in some
obscure technology artifact, like an electronic
repository, e.g. Intranet Portal.

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6: Managing Ignorance


SMEs are normally quick to admit ignorance
areas they lack competency in.


Not afraid to call experts to help them gain
knowledge in areas of ignorance.


This is important as SMEs cannot afford to
spare resources on “risky”, “unknown”, or
“futile” projects. They do extensive homework
before committing, one aspect being
checking if they have the
requisite knowledge
.

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7: Knowledge Management or
Management by Knowledge


Focus on “management” by knowledge, i.e.
knowledge guides all management efforts.


Unlike with larger organizations, knowledge is
the key asset that drives most actions, the
weight placed on other assets, like financial
capital, is significantly lower.

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Conclusion


Viewing SME knowledge management practices as scaled down
versions of the practices found in larger organizations is incorrect.


SMEs have understandable resource constraints, and hence
have to be creative in working around these limitations in order to
manage knowledge.


Our goal of this presentation is to shed a light on peculiarities in
SME knowledge management practices, with the hope of
enticing scholars and practitioners to follow
-
up with more detailed
research undertakings.


Future Research Avenues
: [1] Write
-
up detailed case studies, [2]
Link SME knowledge capabilities with organizational success
outcomes, [3] Develop a metric to study knowledge process
maturity in SMEs and use it to conduct “gap analyses”, and [4]
Data permitting, study how knowledge programs get transformed
as SMEs expand or transform themselves to larger
organizations.

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OASIS 2004 Workshop

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Questions?

Contact Information


Yukika Awazu

Research Fellow

Institute for Engaged Business Research

The Engaged Enterprise

E
-
mail: awazu@engagedenterprise.com

Website: www.engagedenterprise.com


Please email us for a copy of the research paper.