Characterising the knowledge approach of a firm: an investigation of knowledge activities in five software SMEs

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Heavin, Ciara
Adam, Frédéric
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Academic Conferences and Publishing International (ACPI)
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An organisation’s ability to successfully compete in a changing market place is contingent on its ability to manage what it knows, in order to serve the objectives of the firm. While it has been argued that due to their size, knowledge management (KM) is not a concern for smaller organisations, in the current economic climate, it is expected that a more formalised approach to KM allows the company to seize opportunities as they arise, and deal with environmental uncertainty more effectively. In view of this, the objective of this study was to devise a classification of knowledge activities (KAs) which facilitates the exploration of a Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in terms of the type and extent to which knowledge is managed. Furthermore, analysis of KAs provided a greater understanding of the fit between the firm’s objectives and the KM approach pursued. In order to achieve this, five case studies were conducted. Based on the classification of KAs identified, a qualitative analysis approach was used to code each of the twenty eight interviews carried out. Both quantitative and qualitative content analysis methods were applied to facilitate data reduction and generate meaning from the significant volume of data collected. The output from this study includes a classification of KAs which provides rich insight into how SMEs are motivated to deal with knowledge as a means of achieving their organisational objectives. From a practitioner viewpoint, this study seeks to offer an improved understanding of a software SMEs’ approach to KM.
Knowledge , Small to medium sized software enterprises, SMES , Software , Knowledge management, KM , Knowledge activity, KA
Heavin, C. and Adam, F. (2012) 'Characterising the Knowledge Approach of a Firm: An Investigation of Knowledge Activities in Five Software SMEs', Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 10 (11), pp. 48-63. Available online:
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