Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Knowledge management processes in growth-oriented SMEs: An Atlantic Canadian perspective

Document type Thesis
Author MacDonald, Harry Douglas
Degree Ph.D., Management
Publisher University of Stirling; Stirling, UK
Date 2010
Pages 367 pages


Competitive pressure and desire for success drive enterprises in general to involve in knowledge acquisition and dissemination activities that are becoming increasingly significant in the rapid changing and globalising economic world. In addition, with the increased mobility of information and the global labour force, knowledge and experience can be transferred instantaneously around the globe; thus, any advantage gained by one company can be eliminated by comparative improvements overnight. Therefore, the only comparative advantage a particular company will face will be its process of innovation – combining market and technology know-how with the resourceful talents of knowledgeable labour to solve a constant stream of competitive problems- and its ability to derive value from information. In this context, internal and external knowledge acquisition, intra-firm knowledge dissemination and management decisions taken in response to the significant information generated and subsequently filtered became the key factors of entrepreneurial success. This thesis explores how market orientation, learning orientation and entrepreneurial orientation systematically contribute to and are sources of competitive advantage in growth-oriented SMEs. The objective of this study was to investigate the likelihood of a growth-oriented enterprise established in Atlantic Canada to be involved in knowledge acquisition and dissemination activities and to succeed conditional on numerous internal and external factors. A ‘mixed-methods’ research approach was used in this study, comprised of: 1) a web-based questionnaire to study the knowledge management process and other aspects of entrepreneurial success and 2) ‘semi-structured’ interviews with a sample of the responding entrepreneurs. The findings suggest that knowledge management practices: external acquisition, intra-firm dissemination and responsiveness, do vary across the levels of entrepreneurial performance among the Atlantic Canadian SMEs investigated in the study. Having a market orientation and investing in human resources of the firm were found to be critical drivers of innovation leading to potential competitive advantage.