Knowledge Management Toolkit for SMEs

Knowledge Management Toolkit for SMEs

Kerstin Fink (University of Innsbruck, Austria) and Christian Ploder (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-555-1.ch004
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The discipline of knowledge management is no longer emerging in large organizations, but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are focusing on finding the right process that will allow them to make advantages of their intellectual capital. Using survey data from 219 small and medium-sized enterprises in Austria and Switzerland, this article illustrates the four key knowledge processes (1) knowledge identification, (2) knowledge acquisition, (3) knowledge distribution, and (4) knowledge preservation for SMEs and also reports the findings of the empirical study designed to allocate cost-efficient software products to each of the four knowledge processes. As a result a knowledge toolkit for SMEs that integrates knowledge processes, methods and software tool for decision support making is given. Finally, the social view of knowledge management to SMEs is discussed, showing that the use of information technology is currently far more important than the integration of a social-cognitive perspective.
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The academic literature on knowledge management has become a major research field in different disciplines in the last ten years (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Ruggels, 1997; Sveiby, 1997; Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Back, Enkel, & Krogh, 2007). Through knowledge management, organizations are enabled to create, identify and renew the company’s knowledge base and to deliver innovative products and services to the customer. Knowledge management is a process of systematically managed and leveraged knowledge in an organization. In a global and interconnected society, it is more difficult for companies to know where the best and most valuable knowledge is. The term knowledge has a wide range of definitions in the knowledge management literature. The authors follow the definition by Davenport and Prusak (1998, p. 5) “knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experiences, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the mind of knowers.” For a better understanding of knowledge management Jennex (2007, p. 4) points out that the concepts of organizational learning and memory should be integrated. Therefore, knowledge management can be defined as “the practice of selecting applying knowledge from pervious experiences of decision making to current and future decision-making activities with the express purpose of improving the organization´s effectiveness” (Jennex, 2007, p. 6).

Knowledge management is more than the technological solutions provided to give people access to better and more relevant information (Wang & Plaskoff, 2002, p. 113). It is important that the design of the knowledge management systems reflect the mindset of the knowledge workers and their way of offering highly qualitative knowledge solutions with quick solution processes. An effective knowledge management system must integrate people, processes, technology and the organizational structure.

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