Using Knowledge within Small and Medium-Sized Firms: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

25 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006

See all articles by Richard Thorpe

Richard Thorpe

Manchester Metropolitan University - Department of Business & Management Studies

Robin Holt

Independent

Allan Macpherson

Manchester Metropolitan University - Business School

Luke Pittaway

Ohio University College of Business

Abstract

This paper provides a systematic review of the literature on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use and acquire knowledge. The review was undertaken as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Evolution of Business Knowledge Programme. The paper describes the systematic review protocol and provides a detailed explanation of the methods used. From the review, it is evident that SME knowledge research concentrates primarily on the acquisition and use of knowledge, treating it as an asset that is transferred by routines. The findings suggest that research is focused in three main areas. First, on the influence and abilities of the entrepreneur to extract, use and develop knowledge resources. Secondly, on firm-wide systems and the social capital that facilitates knowledge exploration and exploitation. Thirdly, on the provision of knowledge and learning experiences through government policy. From a practical perspective, the review concludes that policies encouraging entrepreneurship and economic regeneration need to be more flexible and sensitive to the often complex contexts within which knowledge is used by SMEs. From a research perspective, and given the flexible, opportunity-oriented and often novel nature of SMEs identified in these studies, there is a need to consider the relational and embedded qualities of knowledge by which these characteristics are framed; qualities that resist conceptualization as some form of separable, material asset.

Suggested Citation

Thorpe, Richard and Holt, Robin and Macpherson, Allan and Pittaway, Luke, Using Knowledge within Small and Medium-Sized Firms: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 257-281, December 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=886601 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2370.2005.00116.x

Richard Thorpe (Contact Author)

Manchester Metropolitan University - Department of Business & Management Studies ( email )

Crewe + Alsager Faculty
Crewe Green Road
Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 5DU
United Kingdom
+44 (0)161 247 3953 (Phone)
+44 (0)161 247 6304 (Fax)

Robin Holt

Independent

No Address Available

Allan Macpherson

Manchester Metropolitan University - Business School ( email )

Aytoun Street
Manchester, M1 3GH
United Kingdom
0161-2473970 (Phone)

Luke Pittaway

Ohio University College of Business ( email )

Athens, OH 45701-2979
United States
7405932022 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://bobcat-entrepreneur.com/

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