Factors Affecting the Use of Knowledge Management Practices among Operational Personnel Within Small- to Medium-sized Enterprises in New Zealand: A Systematic Literature Review
Rotimi, Esther Oluwadamilola Olufemi
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Knowledge management (KM) is the creation, sharing and utilisation of organisations' intangible assets in order to generate value for their stakeholders. Current literature focuses on KM within larger organisations and also at managerial levels. However, far too little attention has been paid to KM at the operational level within SMEs, especially in New Zealand. It is important to address this gap in research because SMEs are huge contributors to the New Zealand economy. More so, operational personnel are fundamental aspects of SMEs as they deal with their daily operations and customers. Operational personnel are central to SMEs' functional operations and hence, the management of their knowledge. The objectives of this research are to determine themes from KM literature and use these to support the analysis of KM among SMEs' operational staff. In addition, this study seeks to gain better understanding of factors that influence KM at the operational level within SMEs in New Zealand. To address these research objectives, a systematic literature review was conducted. This existing literature was then analysed thematically to identify factors that affect the use of KM practices among operational personnel within SMEs. Focus was placed particularly on SMEs within New Zealand. The thematic analysis method is one of the more practical ways of sifting through large volumes of data (in this study, literature), while offering a flexible method that allows for meaning to be captured through the researcher's interpretation of the qualitative data. Through analysis, this research generated nineteen elements that are then grouped into five factors. These factors include: managerial commitment, employee participation, organisational make-up, technology, and organisational resources. The factors are categorised along the lines of how they influence KM practice within SMEs, whether internally and/or externally. The five factors identified provide insight into what impacts KM processes and KM as a whole. A model was developed to show the relationship between the categorised factors and KM processes. The results of this study indicate a collective influence that the five factors have on KM processes. By developing a model that shows the relationship between factors and KM processes, this research has contributed to bridging the gap and integrating views across these areas: knowledge management, operational personnel, SMEs, in the New Zealand context. It is believed that the themes drawn from this analysis will help those within New Zealand SMEs to better understand KM at their operational level.