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Central European Management Journal

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Year 2017 
Volume 25 
Issue 3

Knowledge Safety – Insights from the SME Sector

Małgorzata Zięba
Gdansk University of Technology

2017 25 (3) Central European Management Journal

DOI 10.7206/jmba.ce.2450-7814.203

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to explore the topic of knowledge safety, defned as the state of knowledge being safe from loss, leakage, attrition, oblivion, waste or theft. The paper frst presents a theoretical background and review of previous studies on knowledge loss and ways of overcoming it, and then illustrates the topic of knowledge safety with ten case studies from the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector.

Methodology: The paper is based on an analysis of Knowledge Management (KM) literature devoted to knowledge loss and its potential types in companies, and on the results of case study research. Knowledge safety was frst defned and contrasted with other terms, and then examined in 10 selected SMEs. The research resulted in a clarifcation of what SMEs understand by the term of “knowledge safety” and what kind of measures they take to ensure it.

Findings: As the analysis shows, the examined SMEs attribute diversifed signifcance to the issue of knowledge safety. For some of them, such problem does not exist at all and they state that they can ensure knowledge safety in all aspects of their operations. Some companies perceive it mainly through the safety of the knowledge stored in electronic databases, while others link it with the human factor only.

Research limitations: Research results are limited to ten companies operating in Poland. As such, they cannot illustrate the whole picture of the existing small or medium-sized companies.

Research implications: The fndings of both literature review and case study analysis indicate that there is a need to further examine the issue of knowledge safety by analysing the potential factors which may endanger knowledge safety and the methods to eliminate such risks.

Practical implications: The paper examines important aspects of knowledge safety and provides guidelines on how it can be ensured by managers or owners of SMEs.

Originality/value: The term of knowledge safety has been absent from the related literature so far. The paper defnes it and explores both the theoretical and the practical aspects thereof. The paper also suggests further research possibilities in this area.

References

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  71. Leedy, P.D. and Omrod, J.P. (2005). Practical Research – Planning and Design. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson. [Google Scholar]
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  73. Liebeskind, J.P. (1996). Knowledge, strategy, and the theory of the frm. Strategic Management Journal, 17(S2): 93–107, https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.4250171109 [Google Scholar]
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  79. Meyer, C.B. (2001). A Case in Case Study Methodology. Field Methods, 13(4): 329–352, https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X0101300402 [Google Scholar]
  80. Mohamed, S., Mynors, D., Andrew, G., Chan, P., Coles, R. and Walsh, K. (2007). Unearthing key drivers of knowledge leakage. International Journal of Knowledge Management Studies, 1(3–4): 456–470, https://doi.org/10.1504/IJKMS.2007.012535 [Google Scholar]
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  84. Panagiotakopoulos, A. (2012). Staff “poaching” in the small business context: overcoming this key barrier to training. Industrial and Commercial Training, 44(6): 326–333, https://doi.org/10.1108/00197851211254752 [Google Scholar]
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  91. Burnard, P., Gil, P., Stewart, K., Treasure, E. and Chadwick, B. (2008). Analysing and presenting qualitative data. British Dental Journal, 204(8): 429–432, https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2008.292 [Google Scholar]
  92. Cegarra-Navarro, J.G., Sánchez-Vidal, M.E. and Cegarra-Leiva, D. (2011). Balancing exploration and exploitation of knowledge through an unlearning context: An empirical investigation in SMEs. Management Decision, 49(7): 1099–1119, https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741111151163 [Google Scholar]
  93. Cegarra-Navarro, J., Martinez-Martinez, A., Ortega Gutiérrez, J. and Luis Leal Rodríguez, A. (2013). Environmental knowledge, unlearning, and performance in hospitality companies. Management Decision, 51(2): 341–360, https://doi.org/10.1108/00251741311301858 [Google Scholar]
  94. Chong, C.W., Chong, S.C. and Gan, G.C. (2011). Inter-organizational knowledge transfer needs among small and medium enterprises. Library Review, 60(1): 37–52, https://doi.org/10.1108/00242531111100568 [Google Scholar]
  95. Dąbrowska, M. (2005). Knowledge and knowledge management in contemporary organizations: theoretical considerations. Foundations of Control and Management Sciences, 3: 79–94. [Google Scholar]
  96. de Holan, P.M. and Phillips, N. (2004). Remembrance of things past? The dynamics of organizational forgetting. Management Science, 50(11): 1603–1613, https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1040.0273 [Google Scholar]
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  99. Durst, S., Edvardsson, I.R. and Bruns, G. (2015). Knowledge Retention in SMEs – Insights into the building and construction industry. In: G.S. and V.A.J.C. Spender (eds.), Culture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: connecting the knowledge dots. Matera: Institute of Knowledge Asset Management (IKAM). [Google Scholar]
  100. Durst, S. and Wilhelm, S. (2011). Knowledge management in practice: insights into a medium-sized enterprise’s exposure to knowledge loss. Prometheus, 29(1): 23–38, https://doi.org/10.1080/08109028.2011.565693 [Google Scholar]
  101. Durst, S. and Zieba, M. (2017). Knowledge Risks – Towards a Taxonomy. International Journal of Business Environment (forthcoming), https://doi.org/10.1504/IJBE.2017.084705 [Google Scholar]
  102. Eckardt, R., Skaggs, B.C. and Youndt, M. (2014). Turnover and knowledge loss: An examination of the differential impact of production manager and worker turnover in service and manufacturing frms. Journal of Management Studies, 51(7): 1025–1057, https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12096 [Google Scholar]
  103. Edvardsson, I.R. (2006). Knowledge management in SMEs: the case of Icelandic frms. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 4(4): 275–282, https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500111 [Google Scholar]
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  105. Fereday, J. and Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: a hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1): 80–92, https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690600500107 [Google Scholar]
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  107. Gharajedaghi, J. (2007). Systems thinking: a case for second-order-learning. The Learning Organization, 14(6): 473–479, https://doi.org/10.1108/09696470710825088 [Google Scholar]
  108. Gold, H.A., Malhotra, A., and Albert, S. (2001). Knowledge Management: An Organizational Capabilities Perspective. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18(1): 185–214, https://doi.org/10.1080/07421222.2001.11045669 [Google Scholar]
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Zięba, M.. (2017). Knowledge Safety – Insights from the SME Sector. Central European Management Journal, 25(3), 78-96. https://doi.org/10.7206/jmba.ce.2450-7814.203 (Original work published 2017)

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Zięba, M.. “Knowledge Safety – Insights From The Sme Sector”. 2017. Central European Management Journal, vol. 25, no. 3, 2017, pp. 78-96.

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Zięba, Małgorzata . “Knowledge Safety – Insights From The Sme Sector”. Central European Management Journal, Central European Management Journal, 25, no. 3 (2017): 78-96. doi:10.7206/jmba.ce.2450-7814.203.