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Knowledge Management in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: How Does the Management of Consumer Information Impact on Organisational Effectiveness?

Knowledge Management in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: How Does the Management of Consumer Information Impact on Organisational Effectiveness?

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Published by Dr. Bell Ihua

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Published by: Dr. Bell Ihua on Mar 09, 2010
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Knowledge Management in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises:How Does the Management of Consumer Information Impact onOrganisational Effectiveness?
Ugwushi Bellema IhuaDunnhumby Academy of Consumer ResearchKent Business SchoolUniversity of KentCanterburyCT2 7PEPhone: +44(0)1227824845Fax: +44(0)1227761187Email:ubi2@kent.ac.uk  Supervisor:Professor Andrew Fearne ( A.Fearne@kent.ac.uk )Dr. Ben LoweFrederick Thomson17
EDAMBA Summer AcademySoreze, France July 2008
This thesis attempts to explore the management of consumer information in Small toMedium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and its resultant impact on their organisationaleffectiveness. My research adopts the knowledge-based perspective of the firm and Iintend to focus on how small to medium-sized Agri-Food companies manage what theyknow about their consumers, hence exploring the processes of generating, conversion,storing and retrieving, sharing and transferring, applying and evaluating their consumeras well as enablers to managing the information. I would then explore how theprocesses and enablers have impacted on organisational outputs suggesting theireffectiveness, such as identifying new business opportunities, streamlining internalprocesses, innovating new products/services, anticipating potential market opportunities,quick adaptation to unanticipated change and response to market demand, rapidcommercialisation of new product/services innovation among others.
Key words:
SMEs, knowledge management, consumer information, organisationaleffectiveness.
 Research Background
Proponents of the knowledge-based theory or perspective of the firm assert thatknowledge is the most strategically significant resource of any firm (Alavi and Leidner,2001; Grant, 1996; Sveiby, 2001). This is simply because no organisation, big or small,private or public, profit or not-for-profit, can operate without one form of knowledge oranother. The current socio-economic order of today’s world is driven by trends such asglobalisation, technological advancements, constant change and information explosion.However, these trends presuppose that a critical determinant of organisational success isanchored on the effective and efficient management of organisational knowledge. It isbecoming increasingly significant that for businesses to remain profitable, sustainable,innovative, and gain competitive in their respective industries, the generation, storage,retrieval, transfer and utilisation of their knowledge is key (Davenport and Prusak, 1998and Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995).On one hand,
has been defined as information with meaning, or informationcombined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection (Davenport and Prusak,1998). Leonard and Sensiper (1998) defined
as information that is relevant,
actionable, and based at least partially on experience; and Karl Wiig suggested that
is made up of insights, understanding and practical know-how we all possessand which allows us to operate intelligently (Baker et al., 1997). However, the problemwith knowledge and the crucial need of to manage knowledge in organisations stemfrom the reality that knowledge, for the purpose of KM, exists in two main forms, vis-à-vis on one hand, the explicit, codified or hard form of knowledge i.e. knowledge in formof documents, manuals, articles, handbooks, CDs and so on that can be easily accessedand that remains within the four walls of the organisation at the end normal work day.On the other hand, the tacit, implicit or soft knowledge i.e. knowledge in form of know-how, skills, intuitions, beliefs and mental models that are gained from experience andare comfortably seated in the heads of employees, managers, customers and otherstakeholders (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Little et. al., 2002, 2005). Much of theknowledge exists in the tacit form and as such the challenge for organisations is how tomake these knowledge explicit (Lee and Choi, 2003; O’Dell and Grayson, 1998).Delong (2004) noted that in far too many companies, knowledge is in the danger of vanishing with the employees who acquired it and even though companies may not beable to reduce the deluge of downsizing, resignations and retirements, they still need todo something to “keep knowledge on board.” It has also been buttressed that theproblem with human assets or intellectual capital is that it has legs to walk home dailyand out of the organisation if it so desires; and when experience leaves the gates,inexperience walks in unfortunately (Rus and Lindvall, 2002).Knowledge management (KM) on the other hand has been defined as the processthrough which organisations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-basedassets. Most often generating value from such assets involves codifying whatemployees, partners and customers know, and share that information among employees,departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices(Levinson, 2004). In addition, O’Dell and Grayson (1998) defined KM as a consciousstrategy of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time; it is alsohelping people share and put information into action in ways that strive to improveorganisational performance. KM as a management concept also involves someprocesses which include: managing the generation of new knowledge; capturing, storingand retrieving knowledge and experience; sharing, communication, collaborating andtransferring; and using and building on what is known (Mayo, 1949). It also involves

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