Knowledge Identification and Acquisition in SMEs: Strategically Emergent or Just Ad Hoc?

Knowledge Identification and Acquisition in SMEs: Strategically Emergent or Just Ad Hoc?

Karen Becker (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia), Frances Jørgensen (Faculty of Management, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada) and Adelle Bish (QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2015070101


Researchers and practitioners have been preoccupied with identifying ways for larger organizations to acquire and manage knowledge, however far less research attention has been directed towards these same pursuits in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This paper examines how SMEs engage in knowledge identification and acquisition; in particular how they identify knowledge needs and source this knowledge to enhance their business. The research studied six SMEs in Australia and Denmark. Contrary to prevailing assumptions, the findings suggest that SMEs engage in identification and sourcing of critical knowledge, albeit often with less than formal processes. These organizations relied on business plans to direct knowledge activities and ensure balance between long-range planning and flexibility. The results address a lack of empirical evidence about SME approaches to knowledge identification and acquisition, and demonstrate that although SMEs may approach such activities in an informal way, they are nonetheless deliberate and strategic in their knowledge activities.
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Literature Review

Knowledge management has been defined by a large number of scholars in a variety of ways but typically refers to organizations acquiring, using and capturing knowledge that maximizes organizational returns (Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2011; Hislop, 2013). Often, knowledge management is defined in terms of the processes, systems or strategies, and there has been a proliferation of frameworks relating to these processes. In a review of 160 knowledge management frameworks, Heisig (2009) identified six groups of knowledge management activities (sometimes referred to as processes) including: use, identify, create, acquire, share, and store knowledge. Focusing on knowledge management in SMEs, Fink and Ploder (2009) presented four key knowledge management processes; identification, acquisition, distribution and preservation. These processes together are concerned with developing knowledge resources for the organization.

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