Authors: Shukrullah Fassehi
Abstract: From a knowledge management (KM) perspective, organisational effectiveness depends on an organisation’s capacity to effectively perform a range of processes that include identifying, acquiring, sharing, and storing valuable knowledge. The literature suggests that the growth of interest in the field of KM is largely centred on large organisations. Small businesses have not received much attention in the literature. This is surprising, given that small businesses (however defined) represent the majority of businesses in most countries and, as is the case in Australia, make a major contribution towards business activity, economic development and employment generation. This study employed a qualitative exploratory design to investigate two aspects of KM. These are: (1) the processes of identifying, acquiring, sharing and storing knowledge; and (2) the adoption of critical success factors (CSFs) in the KM processes. Data were obtained through semi-structured interviews with eight owners/managers of knowledge-intensive small businesses in Western Australia. Findings of the study reveal that knowledge-intensive small businesses have a moderate level of KM understanding. Technology was perceived to be the most common facilitator of KM processes, and organisational culture was viewed as the most important factor in fostering KM processes. Overall, the findings of the study provide a preliminary guiding framework for those small businesses that lack KM awareness. Implications of the study findings for small business owner/managers, small business development agencies and KM practitioners are explained. Furthermore, limitations of the study and avenues for future research are discussed.
Keywords: knowledge management, small business, critical success factor