Knowledge management strategic orientation in SMEs

2017-02-28T04:48:05Z (GMT) by Azyabi, Naief Gashoor S
The research involved the development of a theoretical framework relating KM strategic orientation, business strategy, information technology/information systems (IT/IS) and contextual factors. KM strategic orientation was investigated in terms of four sets of dimensions: knowledge sources, knowledge types, KM processes and knowledge-base (broad and deep knowledge-base). Based on an organisation’s orientation towards these dimensions, three KM strategies were proposed: aggressive KM strategy, conservative KM strategy and balanced KM strategy. It is argued that business strategy has a great influence on KM strategy; thus these three strategies were linked to business strategies based on the typology of Miles and Snow (1978): prospectors, defenders and analysers respectively. Besides the influence of business strategy, the contextual factors (organisation size, age and industry sector) are believed to be important in determining the KM strategic orientation of SMEs. It was proposed that the level of use and types of IT/IS depend on the KM strategic orientation of SMEs. Employing mixed methods (survey and interviews), this research found that Saudi SMEs tended to rely on both internal and external sources of knowledge without any significant difference in such reliance. A tacit-orientation approach was adopted significantly more than an explicit-orientation approach because the explicit-orientation approach required more financial, human and technological resources. In regard to the KM processes, the exploitation approach was adopted significantly more than the exploration approach. Moreover, SMEs prepared and preferred their employees to be multi-skilled and able to perform different tasks within the organisations. The research confirmed the influence of business strategy on KM strategic orientation because the proposed relationship between Miles and Snow typology and the proposed KM strategies was confirmed. Besides the business strategy, SME decisions towards KM strategic dimensions were highly influenced by the contextual factors such as organisation size, age, industry sector, resources limitation, the influence of customers/suppliers and the manager’s characteristics. This research found that SMEs were oriented towards the non-expensive and easy to use IT/IS applications. The IT/IS applications were classified, based on the findings of this research into: Internet-based IT/IS, IT/IS for collaboration and IT/IS for codification. There were correlations found between KM strategy and IT/IS applications (i.e. between the aggressive KM strategy and IT/IS for collaboration, and between the conservative KM strategy and IT/IS for codification), which confirmed the association between KM strategy and IT/IS applications.