An international perspective on Knowledge Management in SMEs : implementation and barriers to success

Tikakul, Chayaruk Thanee and Thomson, Avril (2017) An international perspective on Knowledge Management in SMEs : implementation and barriers to success. In: 18th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM 2017), 2017-09-07 - 2017-09-08.

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Knowledge Management provides the potential for organisations to improve their productivity and efficiency. Many existing studies of Knowledge Management focus on large organisations whilst significantly less consider Knowledge Management in SMEs. Studies which draw global comparisons of Knowledge Management in SME’s are particularly rare. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify and investigate similarities and differences in the current Knowledge Management Practices in SMEs in UK and Thailand within the manufacturing sector. A survey in the form of questionnaires was distributed to SMEs in the manufacturing Sector in Thailand and the United Kingdom via online survey software Qualtrics or paper based version depending on the participants’ preference. In total there were 384 respondents from 36 manufacturing SME’s across Thailand and the UK. Responses are from a range of business sectors including automotive, aerospace, packaging, food and beverages etc. The results shows that 78.1 percent of employees in Thai SMEs consider their organisation to have a formal Knowledge Management approach whilst less than half of UK employees consider this to be the case. Findings show similarities between UK and Thai SME’s in terms of the biggest barrier of capturing knowledge, sharing knowledge and storage - these being lack of clear guidelines on the Knowledge Management approach and capturing knowledge and lack of time in both sharing and storing knowledge. One difference identified in barriers to Knowledge Management between the two countries is that in Thailand the biggest cultural barrier to knowledge sharing is extra workload whilst for the UK this is lack of awareness of other people’s needs and requirements. Overall, this paper presents barriers to Knowledge Management in SMEs and considers the global perspective by highlighting similarities and differences between the UK and Thailand. By understanding these barriers, and transferring lessons internationally SMEs can work towards solutions to improve the performance of Knowledge Management activities in their organisation to achieve improved overall company efficiency. These results are part of wider study which aims to share best practice between the United Kingdom and Thailand through carrying out in depth case studies.