Managing Knowledge in SMEs: What are Some Peculiarities?
Kevin C. Desouza (Institute for Engaged Business Research, The Engaged Enterprise, USA) and Yukika Awazu (Institute for Engaged Business Research, The Engaged Enterprise, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
In this chapter we discuss seven peculiarities about knowledge management practices at small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We draw our findings from a nine-month investigation of knowledge management practices at 25 SMEs. 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 do. 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. Therefore, the goal of this chapter is to describe peculiarities in SME knowledge management practices, with the hope of enticing scholars and practitioners to follow-up with more detailed research undertakings.