Key Features of a Good Knowledge Management Strategy for an SME to Achieve a Competitive Advantage Objectives of the study ? To establish the concentration of small and medium enterprises in the U. K ? To identify the knowledge management strategies available for small and medium enterprises in the U. K ? To critically evaluate the most effective knowledge management strategies that small and medium enterprises in the U. K can adopt to achieve a competitive advantage. ?
To critically review the features of an affective knowledge management capable of giving small and medium enterprises across the U. K a competitive advantage in the SME market Literature Review Small and medium enterprises, commonly referred to as SMEs are essential elements in, not only the United Kingdom but also to the different economies across the world (Weick 2003). The SMEs are commonly described as institutions sitting on pletiful of knowledge that is entailed within the head of individuals. Moreover, according so several research studies, this knowledge is usually contained but scattered through a number of information systems that are entailed within the organization (Weick 2003).
As such, these systems of informations are useful to any business as they host a number of important notions, which an organization can not function without. These aspects includde; databases, procedures, policies, articulated expertise as well as well as a great deal of expertise entailed in the employees of that institution (Weick 2003). For a small and Medium Enterprise to acess the scattered knoweledge, it requires technology. As Such, technology is greatly essential as it tends to consolidae the information systems.
With a consolidated information system, the employees within the SME are not only motivated but also encouraged to utilize this kind of system and thereby sharing knowledge. In The U. K, the English as well as the Scottish economies have been regarded small and medium enterprises highly as the vast majority of new job opportunities are attributable top them in regard to the past couple of years (Beijerse, R. P. , 2007). For instance, in 1996, small and medium businesses across the U.
K made a great contribution to gross national product, that is, 50 percent of the total G. NP. In addition to this, Small and medium enterprises was found to have employed 55 percent of the total employment in the U. K (Beijerse, R. P. , 2007). The Gvernments across these two countries have therefore come to see the need to safeguard these SMEs and as such, it encourages them to adopt a nowledge management strategy that will increase their importance to the economies (Handzic and Agahari, 2004).
Contemporarily, the Small and Medium enterprises are striving to outdo eah other in an effort towards becoming a market leader. As such, it has necessaitred them to adopt the most effective knowledge management strategies that will give them an upperhand in the market (Beijerse, R. P. , 2007). Before applying any knowledge management strategy in the snmall and medium enterprise, it is essential that the conerned management take a keen insight on the feature that make up the knowledge Handzic and Agahari (2004).
In its context, it is perceived that knowledge contain some essential and fundamental features which are; Tacit as well as explicit features (Lim and Klobas, 2000). As such, knowledge can either be constituted of either feature. According to Handzic and Agahari (2004), the explicit feature attributabe to knowledge is that makes knowledge become not only transfarable but also codified as well as articulated in an easy way. An example of the explicit knowledge includes; diagrams, manuals, chart, pictures as well as fact sheets.
According to (Lim and Klobas, 2000), explicit knowledge feature can be said to be a kind of knowledge that is capable of being transmitted through systemic and formal language. On the other hand, knowledge characterized by tacit is usually a contrast to explicit feature. As such, such kind of knowledge is in most times encompassed with a codification as well as articulation difficulties (Wong & Aspinwall 2004). It is perceived hat when a person is knowledgable as skilled with regard to a certain discipline or a particular area, he is usually incapable of explicityy articulating each and every aspect of his personal knopwledge to another individual. (Wong & Aspinwall 2004) concluded that tacit featured knowledge can only be ultimately shared amng parties through the aspect of socialization. The researchers further asserted that the tacit featured nowledge can only be created and strored by the party to whom the knowkedge is being inferred to through both the practie as well as experience.
According to Apostolou & Mentzas (2003), the knowledge management strategies are perceived as primarily associated with intergrated organizations. However, they found out that the theory, which is underpins the strategies, can be effectively be applied to the Small nnd Medium Enterprises. These kinds of organizations tend to manage their knowledge through an approach attributable to socialization. The main reason for this is that the small and medium enterprises encompass both innovativity as well as creativity (Nonaka & Takeuchi 2005).
According to a research done by Dalley & Hamilton (2000), the operation scale that SMEs entail together with the way these businesses operate usually provide a clear indication that the form of predominant knowledge majorly used dby SMEs in trying to achieve a competitive edge is the tacit featured knowledge. Contemporarily, the preliquisites for the informatin systems based on the Information technoloigy are increasingly entailing complexity and yet the appropriate technologies do not match these requirements since they are perceived as generally low (Kim, Yu, S and Lee, 2003).
However, according to McCampbell, Clare & Gitters (2009), the there is a paramount attribute associated with the need to genarate a culture, which is crteative in nature. Large businesses face an easier time developing knowledge management strategies and as such, the SMEs ought to learn from them. As such, the choice involving the knowledge management strategies that can be said to best suit and ultimately meet and sustain the needs of SMEs is larghely unknown (McCampbell, Clare & Gitters 2009).
A research by Apostolou & Mentzas (2003) indicated that the choice of an effective knowledge management strategy that best meet the needs of an entreprise andenhances the achievement of an upperhand in the SME market is usually dependent on the nature of the organization. A good knowledge management strategyy is the one that best fit with the make up a small and mediul entreprise that is, it takes into account the ways in which the SME employees interact.
According to Nonaka & Takeuchi (2005), an SME could establish an effective knowlrdge management but still become unable to achieve an added advantage over the others in the SME market. According to the findings of this study, it is indicated that the financial state of a small and mediuym size entreprise is an important factor to consider. Dalley & Hamilton (2000) support this as in their research; they make an assertion that there are financial implications that arise when an amall and medium enterprise implement a knowledge management strategy that is in itself misplaced.
When such a strategy is implemented, it follows that, instead of an SME achieving a competitive edge, the business will lose its desirability within the market and eventually go under due to the high costs incurred due to implementation of the misplaced strategy (Kim, Yu & Lee, 2003) According to the findings of a research conducted by Hansen, Nohria and Tierney (2009), there are two types of knowledge management stratregies that can be adopted by an SME. These include the human as well as the system oriented strategies (Hansen, Nohria and Tierney, 2009).
Features of a system oriented knowledge management strategy System knowledge management strategy puts emphasis on the coded kowledge during the process of knowledge management. In addition to this, this kind if a knowledge management focuses not only on codifying but also on knowledge storage through the use of information technology. Moreover, System nowledge management attempts to formally share knowledge within a small and medium enterprise (Peters & Waterman 2002). Human Knowledge Management Strategy
According to a research conducted by Peters & Waterman (2002), human knowledge management strategies puts an emphasis on dialogue made through the use of one on one contacts as well as through social networks. According to the research findings, the main objetives of the human knowledge management strategies is to acquire knowledge through skilled as well as experienced individuals (Polanyi 2006). Further, the findings to this study indicated that these strategies make attempts aimed at ensuring that nowledge is shared informally within the Small and Medium Enterprises (Peters & Waterman 2002). A plethora of studies have been conducted such that, they have come to shed light on the guidelines that small and medium businesses should follow in an effort towards employment of either human or system oriented strategy (Weick 2005). A susch, the choice employed should be capable of giving such a business an upperhand in respect to the competition in the SME sector.
According to the findings of the research study by Weick (2005), for a small and medium entreprises to rise above the rest within the SME sector, a business ought to persue a certain strategy predominantly. An SME could further achieve a greater competitive edge in the sector by employing another knowledge management strategy aimed at supporting the predominant strategy (Weick 2005). MMM supports this by making an assertion that, where two knowledge managemebnt strategies are adopted, small and medium entrerises ought to strike a balance in regard to the two.
According to Polanyi (2006), the small businesses that combines both human as well as the system knowledge management strategies in acquiring and sharing knowledge achives an amazing profitability and becomes a market leader within the sector. According to Simon (2007), there should be a balance between the key integral knowledge management features, that is, the tacit knowlede as well as the explicit knowledge. When this is done, the developed knowledge for management strategy is characterized by superiority and innovation (Simon 2007).
In their report, Kim, Yu & Lee (2003) recommend that, for a small and medium ennterprise to lead in regard to the market share, it ought to adopt an aggressive strategy. The only aggressive staregy is that one that entails either the tacit or the explicit features. Such a knowledge management strategy integrates the human as well as the system oriented knowledge management strategies. In their research, Collinson & Quinn (2002) tends to support this notion by affirming that such SMEs outperform those that adopt the less aggressive knpowledge management strategies (Kim, Yu & Lee 2003).
With reference to their structures, the small and medium eterprises are always advantaged as compared to the large business organizations in regard to the implementation of an effective knowledge management system. The aspects that gives them this upperhand is the simplicity, flattened as well as the less compleity in their structures (Simon 2007). As such, this proves essential as they tend top speed up any change initiative subjected to the management. This is usually because, the functional integration, thatr is, vertaical as well as the horizontal intergration, is easily achieved (Nonaka & Takeuchi 2005).
In addition to this, during the implementation of a knowledge management system, the complications that arise are often fewer as long as the SME adopted the right knowledge management strategy with the most desirable features (Collinson & Quinn 2002). In small and medium sized entreprises, the management should entail a knowledge msnsgement model, which is considered to be dynamic. This is done by putting a keen focus on the available diversified processes related to the sensemaking processes (Handzic and Agahari 2004). Research Methodology Area of Study
The study to follow will make use of the employees of Small and medium enterprises, both private and public within the United Kingdom. Target Population The researcher will select the participants for the study from the small and medium entrprises within the United Kingdom, putting more emphasis on the English and Scottish economies. There will a request made to both the supportive employees as well as the managemet of the small and medium entreprises to sign the conscents forms confirming that they will be the source of information for the study (Hansen, Nohria & Tierney 2009).
The participants will be asked to provide answers to questions and thereby helping the researcher to obtain the necessary informtion for the study to follow (McCampbell, Clare & Gitters 2009). The main subjects of the study are the management of the small and medium entreprises in the underlying study. Inclusion Criteria: The study to follow will exclusively engage those small and medium entreprises that have been in operation for a considerable period of time, that is, at least six years.
In addition to this only those SMEs that have been in operation without any temporary closure, whether due to innovation or stock taking activity, since the inaugration of a particular SME. Any SME that appropriately meets thisa criteria will be eligible as a participant. Primary Data to be collected Primariry, the researcher will seek the number of leading players within the small and medium entreprises. In addition to this, the researcher will also identify the common trend in knowledge management strategies adoption among the sucessful small and medium enterprises.
Procedure The study to follow will target the small and medium entreprises within the United Kingdom. The dominant method of collection of data will be the use of Questionnairs. As such, this form of data collection method will be developed within a specified period before the actual conduction of the study. The task that will be given priority is request of permission from the authorities associated with the SME sector (Nonaka & Takeuchi 2005). The permission will be requested by the use of hand deliveries, emails as well as surface mails.
Conscent forms will be distributed to the identified SMEs, whereby their purposes will be clearly defined. In addition to this, the questionnairs’ significance and the intention of the study to follow will also be clearly indicated (Hansen, Nohria & Tierney 2009). On signing the conscent forms, the participants will be engaged in the study. Questinnairs will be delivered to them using the medium by which the concent forms will be distributed (Dervin 2003). Data Collection Procedures Sources of Data Internal Sources; the selected participants, that is, SMEs
External Sources; Legal entities, ministries as well as Govermental agencies Questionnairs: The researcher will develop the quewstionnairs. They will entail both the closed as well as the open ended questions. They will charactyerized by simplicity, comprehensibility, accuracy as well as contended questions. These questions will be scripted down on papers while others will be entailed in electronic formats (Dervin 2003). Surveys: The researcher will conduct surveys within the English and Scottish localities.
Each SME will be visited atleast once to obtain information from the management as well as the SME employees (Ruggles 2008). DocumentAnalysis: The documents that will be availed by the SMEs in the study to follow will be ultimately reviewed to obtain the information with regard to the past concerning the effectiveness of the adopted kowledge management strategies by the SMEs and the performance of those SMEs within the sector (McCampbell, Clare & Gitters 2009). Data Analysis Procedure The data that will be collected will be put under an analysis procedure in an effort towards derivation of the qualitative information.
The study to follow will be scheduled such that it will have the capability of inferring the necessary information from the data. This will be through an analysis procedure (Wiley 2004). Data Cleaning The data collected will be put under scrutiny so that redundancies as well as errors are removed. Where possible, the researcher will attempt to correct some errors and as such, it will be made such that it will not manipulate the outcome of the results. To effectively do this analysis, Microsoft’s spreadsheet will be made use of (Wiley 2004). Data Analysis
The researcher, in the study to follow, will employ the euse of several data analysis methods and thereby facilitating the derivation of quality information as well as drawing of conclusions that are valid. The study will use; statistical analysis graphical techniques and correlations (Beijerse 2008). Computers will be effective in performing the statistical analysis and as such, accuracy, efficiency as well as the validity of the information will be enhanced. Distribution tables, chi squares as well as scatter plots will be used to conduct graphical analysis (Beijerse 2008).
The SPSS software will be used for the data analysis process (Beijerse, 2008). Reporting Upon achieving the results, they will be communicated and as such, this communication will be entailed in study reports. The study report will include sections, that is, both the data presentatrion as well as a conclusion (Wiley 2004). The data presentation will be done thrugh the use of charts as well as graphs and asa such, it will assist ideally in drawing of valid conclusions. Ethical Issues Involved
Since the researcher will be aim at getting the most appropriate knowledge management strategiy that the leaders in the small and medium entreprises sector employ to give them a competitive advantage, there will be no diclosure of information made to another SME concerning a certain SME (Weick 2005). In addition to this, he resercher will also respect the prefferences of the management, such as serving the customers first. Moreover, the researcher will seek to come into a concensus with the management of these small and medium entreprises with regard to the most appropriate time the resercher can ask questions to the management.
Further, where the employees are not supposed to be engaged, the researcher will seek permissin to talk to them, and where this is not possible, the researcher will be contended with the available sources. Limitations of the Study Since the participants to the study will be competing small and nedium entreprises, the correct material facts might not be avaied by the SMEs since most of them would be seeing as if the intention of the researcher is to collect the information aimed at helping another competing SME to utdo it.