Research has shown that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) have a very significant impact on the commercial sector and are major employers of labor in most developed and developing countries. SMEs contribution are well recognized and acknowledged worldwide as being vital to economic growth and development, job creation, and the general health and welfare of economies (Morris and Brennan, 2000 cited in Alison et al, 2003).
Despite the advantages outlined and their overall contribution to a nations GDP, it is also believed that SMEs low capital structure, lack of technological prowess and inadequate managerial skills serve as mitigating factors which impede their effectiveness, growth and development (Egbu, 2000).
The increased globalization of the world’s economy, versatility and highly competitive nature of marketplaces such as manufacturing make it increasingly imperative that business entities exact high standards for quality ease of service delivery and product pricing. The speed of their flexibility and adaptability enhanced by organizational learning will in no small way play an integral role in SMEs ability to achieve competitive advantage and gain market share (Spicer and Sadler-Smith, 2006).
In the light of this, two major management convictions have emerged: (1) Managing organizational knowledge effectively is critical to achieving competitive success; (2) Managing knowledge is now a fundamental concern and must be a skill wielded adeptly in the current business enterprise. (Sanchez, 2001) To facilitate this, manufacturing SME’s must manage their Knowledge resources and practice adeptly to reflect the fluid nature of their enterprises.
Enterprises are now well attuned to the need to manage knowledge systematically and comprehensively. However, current Knowledge Management (KM) practices are still developing and most practitioners focus mainly on areas which will serve their own purposes best. The expectation is that this will eventually culminate into a robust and holistic spectrum of good KM methods.
The United Kingdom has historically been a benchmark leader in industrialization, innovation and best business practice. They still remain a cornerstone in Europe in economic undertakings and manufacturing. China, the world’s most populous nation, has also been consistently pinpointed – even more so in recent times – as the next largest player in the global economic market and frontier.
In the light if this, the ability of their Manufacturing SME’s to transform knowledge residing in the minds of experienced employees into explicit constructive knowledge to govern sound business practice to influence good product development can be an area for significant research.
Culture in itself plays a role in our perception of issues, ethos and general conduct. Investigations will be undertaken and suggestions put forward as to how the cultures of these environments affect the application and efficient use of the tacit and explicit knowledge made available.
The methods that are adopted by manufacturing SMEs in the UK will be compared with the schemes in place in various manufacturing entities in China based on extant literature. Based on the insight gained from this analysis, appropriate evaluations will be made.
Alison, M., Breen, J., and Ali, S. (2003) Small business growth: Intention, ability and opportunity, Journal of small business management, 41 (4), pp. 417 – 425.
Egbu C. (2000) Knowledge Management in Construction SMES: Coping With the Issues of Structure, Culture, Commitment and Motivation, Proceedings of 16th ARCOM annual Conference, Glasgow, Vol. 1, 83-92.
Spicer, D.P. and Sadler-Smith, E. (2006) Organisational learning in smaller manufacturing firms, International Small Business Journal, Vol. 24(2): 133–158.
Sanchez, R. (2001) Knowledge management and organizational competence, Oxford University Press.