Exploring the Alignment of Organisational Goals with KM: Cases in Four Irish Software SMEs

Ciara Heavin, Frederic Adam
unpublished
In the anticipation of the knowledge economy and the organisational pursuit of 'knowing what we know' modern organisations have endeavoured to achieve varying levels of KM. It has typically been larger organisations that have possessed the economies of scale i.e. the financial resources to pursue this strategy, where they perceive they will lose their market share if they do not follow the trend. Smaller organisations have not had the same luxury. Ironically however, it is smaller organisations
more » ... aller organisations that have successfully managed knowledge for centuries. However there remains an absence of empirical evidence that highlights how SMEs operationalise their approach to KM, particularly in the high-technology sectors. In view of the current financial instability, never has it been more important to focus on the knowledge capabilities of software SMEs where managing organisational knowledge is essential to the continued success of an SME. Pursuing a qualitative analysis approach using multiple case studies in four Irish software SMEs, this study identifies sources of knowledge and occurrences of knowledge activities (KAs) as a means of understanding the firm's approach to knowledge management (KM) and how this may be closely aligned to the organisation's greater strategic objectives thus providing them with greater flexibility to deal with environmental uncertainty. At the level of the cases, it was evident that software SMEs leverage KAs to serve their knowledge transfer needs. Unexpectedly, the findings from this study indicate that these software SMEs were not good at knowledge creation activity. This may be attributed to the nature of the SME where a small number of key players i.e. founder/manager/head of development assumed responsibility for this type of activity. Fundamentally, these software SMEs choose to leverage knowledge and KAs in order to serve the greater needs of the firm such as the need to develop a new software product, improve their customer relationships or ensure their position as an important cog in a larger organisation.
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