Using IT-Supported Knowledge Repositories for Succession Planning in SMEs: How to Deal with Knowledge Loss?

Using IT-Supported Knowledge Repositories for Succession Planning in SMEs: How to Deal with Knowledge Loss?

Susanne Durst (University of Skövde, Sweden) and Lena Aggestam (University of Skövde, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0948-6.ch020
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In the context of succession planning a huge number of critical knowledge can be at risk. This challenges smaller firms in particular. Based upon this, the chapter intends to highlight the contribution of IT-supported repositories to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) succession planning as a promising approach to better cope with the risk of knowledge loss. More precisely, the aim of this chapter is to analyze different types of knowledge loss in the capture process with SME succession planning to demonstrate the potentials and deficiencies with IT-supported knowledge repositories. The findings presented in this chapter will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of how to deal with knowledge loss in the capture process when using IT-supported knowledge repositories for SME succession planning.
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The aging society will soon lead to a number of retirements in companies that cannot be compensated for by the smaller number of succeeding individuals. Even though this issue means a challenge to every company, it seems that it affects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular (Commission of the European Communities, 2006). At the same time, knowledge is viewed as the key strategic resource needed to stay competitive and develop (Spender, 1996). Consequently, all companies, regardless of size, need to identify and implement systematic approaches to cope with the demographic challenge and its possible internal and external consequences with respect to the companies´ capability to take actions (Delong, 2004). One may conclude that the required knowledge management (KM) work should primarily address knowledge retention and knowledge sharing to reduce the risk of knowledge attrition (or even worse knowledge loss); the aspects of succession planning and KM are thus of strategic importance. This also means that the time has finally come to take a proactive approach to organizational knowledge (Von Krogh et al., 2001). IT-supported knowledge repositories are considered to take a key role in KM (Kankanhalli et al., 2005), and having knowledge conversion in mind (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995), they could therefore provide support in addressing the challenge outlined above.

Against this background, this chapter attempts to contribute to the body of knowledge concerning the use of IT-supported knowledge repositories in SME succession planning. Thereby the focus is on the capturing process as it presents the main component to make knowledge repositories working. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyse different types of knowledge loss in the capturing process from the perspective of SME succession planning in order to obtain an improved understanding of the situation which may also allow a better handling of it. To achieve the aim, the authors take advantage of their previous research activities in the areas of SME succession planning and knowledge loss.

The chapter is structured as follows. In the next section, important domains relevant to the study are introduced briefly. This is followed by a section that presents the theoretical analysis and results regarding SME succession planning and knowledge loss in the capture process. The chapter concludes in section 4, which also addresses some implications and future research directions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

IT-Supported Knowledge Repositories: With the support of IT information that can be transformed into knowledge is stored in order to facilitate knowledge retention and sharing.

Succession Planning: Refers to all activities involved in the preparation, execution and post processing of the respective type of succession.

SMEs: Is the abbreviation of small and medium-sized enterprises, and refers to companies which are characterized by an overlap of management and ownership.

Knowledge Loss: Refers to the loss of relevant knowledge that was intended to stay with the organization (from the perspective of the IT-supported knowledge repository).

Knowledge Management: Systematic way of applying a group of tools, techniques, processes and activities that enables knowledge and information to flow, grow, and create value in organizations.

Capturing Process: Refers to the process of capturing knowledge that has the potential for being stored in a knowledge repository.

Risk: Refers to the potential of losing something of value.

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