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An Exploration of the Perception and Practices of Knowledge Management in Irish Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Comey, Brendan (2018) An Exploration of the Perception and Practices of Knowledge Management in Irish Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. Masters thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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This study explores the phenomenon of knowledge management (KM) and specifically how it is used by Irish small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs in Ireland employ 70% of the total work force, accounting for €42 billion of trade, making them vital to the country from an economic and social point of view. SMEs rely on the knowledge and experience of their owners and employees and intellectual property rather than physical or financial capital to be successful.

An extensive literature review indicates that KM is a subject area that is rapidly evolving and dynamic. Both the practice and the research into KM in SMEs lag behind that of large organizations and research into the current state of KM as an academic field is fragmented. The current literature indicates that there are research gaps in the areas of knowledge creation, retention and utilization in relation to KM and this has generally been attributed to a lack of resources and understanding of the benefits of KM systems in the SMEs.

This research work asks what are the main knowledge management tools and practices adopted by the Irish SMEs and what the effect these processes have on the performance of the companies. Six subjects were interviewed at length using the qualitative paradigm following a phenomenological approach allowing for a context rich investigation of the themes revealed by the theoretical framework devised from literature review. The collection of artefacts and the reviewing of reflective journals kept by the interview participants coupled with the extensive interviews adds to the understating of the topic from an Irish SME perspective.

The study highlights that the need and benefit for Irish SME’s to implement KM systems from a perspective of competitive advantage, growth and efficiencies for companies. It was found that in an Irish context the owners or senior managers are the main driving force for the KM process. It is implied that there is a need to promote a champion or driver for knowledge management as well as educating the employees of its importance to ensure the future of the company. The research also finds that while some characteristics of SMEs such as the lack of resources can present a barrier to formal KM adoption, their flexibility, flatter organization and the technologies available in recent years are showing more adoption of KM practices in the Irish SMEs. In particular the advent of cloud computing has made it easier for organizations to develop their own systems and practices for KM.

This work indicates that further research is needed into KM in SMEs and based on the outcomes of the reflective journals there are strong indications that action research would be beneficial. The financial benefits to the Irish economy would indicate that a large scale investigation into the use and adoption of web 2.0 for the benefit of SMEs should be considered.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > Knowledge Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > New Business Enterprises
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > Small Business Sector
Divisions: School of Business > Master of Science in Management
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 16:17
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2018 16:17

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