Knowledge management practice : case study of Thai SMEs in the manufacturing sector

Tikakul, Chayaruk Thanee and Thomson, Avril (2016) Knowledge management practice : case study of Thai SMEs in the manufacturing sector. In: 17th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM 2016), 2016-09-01 - 2016-09-02.

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The founding of the AEC (Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community) in late 2015 is contributing to further opportunities in the international market for ASEAN (Association of South Eastern Asian Nations) countries. However, this is also leading to greater competition through an increase in the number of businesses. In Thailand, part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are significantly important to economic growth, employment rate, GDP and therefore their success has a critical impact on society. In this period of transition, Thai SMEs need the right supporting tools for their organisation to survive and grow. Globally, the adoption of Knowledge Management is becoming widespread with the potential to improve productivity and efficiency of various organisations. Successful Knowledge Management will benefit organisations through improving decision-making, quality of products/services whilst reducing the process lead-time and operational costs thus, contributing to market competitiveness. Despite, the large number of studies on Knowledge Management only few studies focus on SMEs. Furthermore, a systematic literature review conducted as part of this study highlights that whilst Knowledge Management research has been carried out in Thailand much of it is not accessible to non-Thai due to language. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify the current practice of Knowledge Management in Thai SMEs within the manufacturing sector and to examine how employees in the organization capture, share and store their knowledge as well as their perceptions about Knowledge Management. Survey questionnaires were distributed to SMEs in Manufacturing Sector in Thailand via online survey software (Qualtrics) and paper based version depending on participants’ preference. The total respondents are 311 within 20 manufacturing SMEs across several business sectors. The paper focuses on two research questions which highlight the key differences that exist in knowledge management practices and perceptions in different sized SME’s and between management and operational staff roles. In general, the results show the majority of employees in SMEs in Thailand consider Knowledge Management to be a beneficial tool with the potential to solve problems at work. However, it appears that the biggest barrier to knowledge capture is a lack of clear guidelines. Furthermore, the biggest barrier to sharing and storing knowledge is lack of time. This paper reports on the results obtained within Thailand. These results are part of a wider study which is currently drawing comparisons between Thailand and The United Kingdom.