Do SMEs do knowledge management? Or simply manage what they know?

Hutchinson, Vicky and Quintas, Paul (2008). Do SMEs do knowledge management? Or simply manage what they know? International Small Business Journal, 26(2) pp. 131–154.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0266242607086571

Abstract

Recent studies of knowledge management indicate that the growth of interest in this area is primarily focused on the larger organization. Not only do large firms feature in the majority of published case studies but also their employees are regular contributors to conference proceedings.This article addresses the comparatively under-researched issue of knowledge and its management in small businesses. Looking beyond formal Knowledge Management (KM) initiatives and structures, emphasis is placed upon the importance of informal knowledge processes.Two related propositions are made: first, knowledge is managed by organizations without use of the language and concepts of KM and accompanying formal KM structures, and that this behaviour might uncontroversially be called `informal' knowledge management, and secondly, small firms are more likely to adopt such informal processes to manage knowledge.These propositions are explored within the context of small firms and the research revealed that small firms do indeed manage knowledge informally as part of their normal activities, without the use of the terminology and concepts of KM. However, contrary to expectations, on occasion some also engage in formal KM.

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