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Original Article

Knowledge management systems: the hallmark of SMEs

, &
Pages 294-304 | Received 29 Jan 2016, Accepted 28 Mar 2017, Published online: 19 Dec 2017
 

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the knowledge management systems (KMSs) adopted by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). KMSs are divided into two categories: knowledge management tools (KM-Tools) and knowledge management practices (KM-Practices). On the basis of the analysis of the literature, two research questions (RQs) were identified and addressed through semi-structured interviews carried out in a sample of 35 SMEs operating in high-tech industries. The first RQ concerns the degree of adoption of KMSs by SMEs. The second RQ regards the relationship between KM-Tools and KM-Practices. As far as the degree of adoption of KMSs, the paper highlights that SMEs are not a homogeneous world but there are a variety of approaches and behaviours. As far as the relationship between the degree of adoption of KM-Tools and KM-Practices, the paper identifies three groups of SMEs that seem to point out the stages of the process of adoption of KMSs: Introduction, SMEs that deal with the process of knowledge management exploiting practices and tools that are already known; Growth, SMEs that adopt specialist practices of knowledge management acquiring new organisational and managerial competence in the field of knowledge management; Maturity, SMEs that invest in new technology and that acquire new technological competence in the field of knowledge management. This categorisation paves the way for further theoretical and practical implications for both managers and policy makers.

A first version of the paper was presented at IFKAD 2015.

A first version of the paper was presented at IFKAD 2015.

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