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International lessons in knowledge management : a study of western & eastern manufacturing SMEs

Tikakul, Chayaruk Thanee and Thomson, Avril (2018) International lessons in knowledge management : a study of western & eastern manufacturing SMEs. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 16 (2). pp. 113-130. ISSN 1479-4411

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Abstract

In today’s competitive business market, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are seeking to adopt supporting tools in order to survive. Many large organizations have been successfully implementing Knowledge Management with productivity and efficiency gains cited. SME’s on the other hand are less familiar with this practice with fewer published studies of Knowledge Management focusing on SMEs. Studies which draw global comparisons of Knowledge Management practices in SME’s are particularly rare. The aim of this study is to identify and investigate similarities and differences in Knowledge Management practice between SMEs in UK and Thailand within the manufacturing sector. The objective being to better understand and facilitate the transfer of good practice and lessons between the two countries. Questionnaires investigating Knowledge Management practice have been developed and distributed to SMEs in the Manufacturing Sector across the UK and Thailand. This paper reports on the responses of a total of 384 questionnaires from 36 manufacturing companies from the UK and Thailand. The study covers a range of manufacturing sectors including food and beverage, automotive and aerospace industries etc. Findings are reported from each of the two countries followed by a comparative statistical analysis of the similarities and differences. The results show a significant difference between the numbers of manufacturing SME’s that have implemented a formal knowledge management approach. With significantly more Thai organisations reporting the adoption of formal knowledge management approaches. Similarities exist in the encouragement given to employees for knowledge management activities. Significant difference exists in the barriers that the UK and Thai organisations face in capturing knowledge. The results have the potential to gain improvements and competitive advantage through understanding how knowledge management is influenced by geographic and cultural differences and the transfer of lessons and good practice between Thailand and the UK.