17 Knowledge Management Strategies on the Competitive Advantage of Medium-Sized Enterprises: A

17
Knowledge Management Strategies on the Competitive Advantage of Medium-Sized Enterprises: A Qualitative Case Study
Dissertation Proposal
Submitted to Northcentral University
School of Business
in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
by
San Diego, California
January 2022
Abstract
This study is qualitative research on the Impact of Organizational Culture on Knowledge
Management in Medium-Sized Enterprises. The focus of this research is to determine the impact of knowledge management strategies on the competitive advantage of Medium-Sized Enterprises. The research problem for this study is why Medium-Sized Enterprises experience lowered competitive advantage when faced with the inability to utilize organizational cultural strategies that promote knowledge management. Medium-Sized Enterprises face resource constraints in terms of human resources, finances, and time. This inhibits their capability of taking advantage of knowledge management benefits that give them a competitive advantage in the market. The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the impact of organizational cultural strategies that promote investment in knowledge management within Medium-Sized Enterprises. The guiding theoretical framework for this study is Ecological Knowledge Management Theory that comprises of the four elements knowledge distribution, knowledge competition, knowledge interaction, and knowledge evolution. The research methodology that will be applied in this research is qualitative research. The case study will be the research design that will be used for this research. The research instruments that will be used in this research include interviews, observation, reading, and document review.
Acknowledgments
I would like to express my gratitude to my Dr. Davis who guided me throughout this dissertation. I would also like to thank my friends and family who supported me and offered deep insight into the study.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Statement of the Problem 3
Purpose of the Study 5
Introduction to Theoretical Framework 6
Introduction to Research Methodology and Design 7
Research Questions 8
RQ1 8
RQ2 8
Significance of the Study 8
Definitions of Key Terms 10
Medium-Sized Enterprises 10
Summary 10
Chapter 2: Literature Review 12
Conceptual Framework 12
The Domains of Knowledge Management 13
Leadership 13
Strategies of Leadership 14
Vision 14
Motivation 15
Value of learning 15
Strategic planning 15
Culture 16
Chapter 3: Research Method 17
Research Methodology and Design 17
Population and Sample 23
Materials or Instruments 25
Assumptions 29
Limitations 30
Delimitations 30
Ethical Assurances 31
Summary 31
Chapter 4: Findings 33
Reliability of the Data 33
Results 34
Research Question 1 34
Research Question 2 35
Evaluation of the Findings 35
Summary 36
References 37
List of Tables
List of Figures
Figure 1 18
Chapter 1: Introduction
Knowledge management is crucial in developing and sustaining organizational strategies. Knowledge management involves the collection, analysis, classification, dissemination, and reuse of data to bolster business activities (Jones & Shideh, 2021). Organizations use knowledge management systems for various reasons. Some purposes of knowledge management are increasing revenues, expanding market shares, creating customer-specific products, targeting messaging and advertisements. Many large corporate organizations have successfully installed knowledge management systems within their operations and gained a competitive advantage within their specialization areas (Hussain et al., 2021). On the contrary, medium-sized enterprises continue to experience challenges of installing knowledge management systems to gain a competitive advantage, meet their strategies, and stay at the top of the pyramid (Mazorodze & Buckley, 2021).
Knowledge management is fundamental to all organizations regardless of the product or industry. These organizations rely on the knowledge and expertise of their employees and stakeholders for them to be successful (Mazorodze & Buckley, 2021). Knowledge is an essential asset for organizations. Organizations need to incorporate processes that grow, store, and share the knowledge between stakeholders to increase effective use of knowledge and stakeholder efficiency. According to Priya et al. (2019) an effective knowledge management system is dependent on employees and what they choose to share. Employees ensure a lasting benefit to the organization by implementing efficient knowledge management strategies. Knowledge management can present challenges to the business if the employees are not able to adequately apply knowledge management strategies. These challenges can be highlighted if the search mechanisms of knowledge management within the organization are not powerful and produce inaccurate results or the organization does not have up to date information (Priya et al., 2019).
Medium-Sized Enterprises encounter resource challenges as opposed to large organizations. These resource constraints hinder medium-sized enterprises from implementing knowledge management strategies in their business operations. Limited finances, human resources, infrastructure, and time characterize resource constraints for Medium-Sized Enterprises (Schropfer et al., 2017). This generally leads to knowledge loss and mismanagement of organizational information (Wei et al., 2017). These outcomes generate loopholes for Medium-Sized Enterprises and the inability to take advantage of information retention and analysis. Failure to implement organizational cultural norms that encourage knowledge management efficacy for Medium-Sized Enterprises minimizes their competitive advantage in the market.
This research topic is relevant because investment in knowledge management is an emergent business tactic that improves the competitive advantage of organizations in their respective industries (Rialti et al., 2020). This research will also help develop a detailed analysis of knowledge management, Medium-Sized Enterprises, and organizational culture. This research will enhance scholar knowledge on the benefits of knowledge management in Medium-Sized Enterprises. Knowledge management allows organizational stakeholders to stimulate cultural changes and innovation which helps the organization to evolve to the dynamic business need in their market.
The study of knowledge management impact on Medium-Sized Enterprises is crucial because there is an increasing number of Medium-Sized Enterprises embracing knowledge management strategies in their business operations. This study will provide information that can be used to assess the positive and negative impact of applying certain knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises. Additionally, scholars and researchers can utilize this study as a knowledge base for future research. This research is aimed at contributing to the field of business and organizational leadership that can be referenced by future scholars
There has been various research conducted on knowledge management. A study conducted on the impact of knowledge management in improving organizational effectiveness determined the link between organizational effectiveness and knowledge management and how competitive advantage is generated in the business world (Finn, 2013). Ngulube (2019) maps the methodological issues that arise during knowledge management research. Researchers have conducted studies to determine the factors that influence knowledge management in practice. Existent research by previous researchers will help to create a balance between individual work and collaborative work from the scholar community.
Statement of the Problem
The problem to be addressed in the study is why Medium-Sized Enterprises experience lower competitive advantage when faced with the inability to utilize organizational cultural strategies that promote knowledge management (Rialti et al., 2020). Medium-Sized Enterprises face financial and resource constraints to invest in business strategies like knowledge management. Few Medium-Sized Enterprises have calculated the cost of knowledge management. They rarely adopt practices targeted at improving knowledge management (Castagna et al., 2020). Medium-Sized Enterprises experience knowledge loss because of financial and resource constraints during investment in knowledge management and failure to integrate organizational cultural strategies that foster knowledge management. Hence, Medium-Sized Enterprises miss out on the benefits of knowledge management in better decision making, improved organizational agility, increased rate of innovation, quick problem-solving, improved business processes, employee growth and development, better communication, and competitive advantage (Yekkeh et al., 2021).
Organizations that apply knowledge management tactics in their business strategies help maximize their gains in multiple ways (Przysucha, 2017). Medium-Sized Enterprise organizational culture is not focused on management investment, strategies, and benefits. (Chen, Liang, & Lin, 2010). According to Hussain et al. (2021), organizational culture is influential in promoting behaviors fundamental to knowledge management. These behaviors include sharing and creating knowledge and mediating the relationships between individual knowledge and organizational knowledge. Organizational culture shapes employee attitude, behavior, and identity. Knowledge is a fundamental resource for all organizations, including Medium-Sized Enterprises (Castagna et al., 2020). The increase in competition and advanced management strategies in companies has heightened the need for organizations to implement knowledge management strategies to gain a competitive edge.
Knowledge management is mostly referred to as a general improvement practice that is used to enhance the effectiveness of knowledge in organizations especially in intensive companies (Peter, 2002). Medium-Sized Enterprises face risks and problems due to immaturity of knowledge management practices and failure to integrate knowledge management in their organizational culture that will ensure consistent knowledge management practices for the organization. A lack of consistency in knowledge management practices for the organization gradually lowers the capability of Medium-Sized Enterprises to maintain a competitive edge in their industries. If this problem is not addressed, Medium-Sized Enterprises face the risk of instability and inability to foster rapid adaptation to the changing market demands and technology in the business environment (Peter, 2002).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study is to examine the impact of organizational culture norms that promote investment in knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises. The aim of this research is systematic management of Medium-Sized Enterprise knowledge assets to meet strategic and tactical requirements and creating value for the organization (Jonsson, 2015). By implementing knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises enhances competitive advantage and improves organizational success. This is possible through effective use of knowledge resources and assets to provide the ability to respond and innovate to changing market demands.
The target population for this research is a medium-sized information technology company located in the northeastern part of the United States. The organization employs at least 50 participants for it to run normally. A sample of 26 participants will be recruited from the target population to participate in the study because a number slightly above half the population will yield comprehensive results. A sample size is selected based on demographics like physical location, availability, and reliability, (Jenkins et al., 2020).
The research instruments that will be used to collect data from the research participants will include individual in-person and video-conferencing interviews. The interviews will take approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. Interviews will be conducted for data collection purposes. During the interviews, the researcher will describe the purpose of the research and inform the participants that they can stop the interview process at any time. The qualitative data collected for this study will be analyzed using descriptive analysis. Descriptive analysis is the investigation of the distribution of complex and critical data into proper numbers and figures by identifying the association between various numerous and data on knowledge management in the Medium-Sized Enterprise.
The research process of this study will incorporate identifying an ideal sample from the target population at the Medium-Sized Enterprise, defining the sampling frame, data collection, data analysis, and the major processes of the research and the results. All participant information collected during this research will be kept confidential and securely stored. Inductive coding will be used to code the dataset used in this research. Thematic analysis will be used to analyze data collected from this research.
Introduction to Theoretical Framework
The theory that will be applicable for this study is the Ecological Knowledge Management theory. The Ecological Knowledge Management theory deals with people, relationships, and learning communities (Martins et al., 2019). Knowledge management research can be traced to the 1970s where the early work focused on sociology of knowledge around organizations and technical work in knowledge-based expert systems. Previous knowledge management frameworks focused on knowledge management from a process view. This includes activities like storage, transfer, retrieval, and application of knowledge from one generation to another. Ecology is used to analyze the relationship among members and how they interact with the environment (Martins et al., 2019).
The Ecological Knowledge Management Theory is a model that comprises knowledge interaction, knowledge distribution, knowledge evolution, and knowledge competition. This model is effective in determining the knowledge management strategies and how they are applied in organizations. The theory will be essential in explaining how the interaction of the human resource, clients, and technology can be used to establish knowledge management systems in organizations. The Ecological Knowledge Management Theory applies to this study because it consists of four elements that interact with each other to evolve and enhance a healthy knowledge ecology within organizations (Raudeliuniene et al., 2018). The four elements are knowledge distribution, knowledge interaction, knowledge competition and knowledge evolution. According to Deng-Neng et al. (2010) maintaining an effective knowledge ecology in organizations is fundamental for the success of knowledge management within the organization. The Ecological Knowledge Management Model will guide the researcher in identifying the impact of knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises.
Introduction to Research Methodology and Design
The research methodology applied in this study is qualitative research. Qualitative research is a social science research method used to collect data by working with non-numerical data and seeks to interpret meaning from the data collected. An exploratory case study was selected for this research because it demonstrates the significance of this study and provides factual evidence to persuade the reader (Rhee et al., 2015). Qualitative research methodology for this research is aimed at understanding the impact of knowledge management in Medium-Sized enterprises. The exploratory case study research design is fundamental to this research because it will demonstrate the significance of this research to the industry (Rhee et al., 2015).
This study will be conducted on Medium-Sized Enterprises. By implementing a qualitative research method will allow the researcher to analyze Medium-Sized Enterprises, organizational culture, and knowledge management amongst other major concepts in this study. The qualitative research method is applicable for this study because it provides the researcher with qualitative data that will be used to analyze the impact of knowledge management strategies on Medium-Sized Enterprises. The data collection process will characterize the use of research instruments like interviews, reading, and observation. The validity of this research will be determined by the appropriateness of the research instruments applied (Aithal, 2017).
This research will focus on how Medium-Sized Enterprises incorporate these knowledge management strategies into their organizational culture. Case study research design, the in-depth study of a phenomenon method, is pertinent for this study because it requires careful formulation, examination, and listing of assumptions of the research in open-ended problems, (Leung, 2015). The research methodology applied in this study will help identify the impact of knowledge management strategies on Medium-Sized Enterprises and how it affects their competitive capability in the industries that they operate in.
Research Questions
RQ1
How does organizational culture affect knowledge management within the medium-Sized Enterprise?
RQ2
How does investment in knowledge management improve the competitive advantage for the Medium-Sized Enterprise?
Significance of the Study
The findings of this research will contribute to the success of Medium-Sized Enterprises because organizational culture is an essential component in all organizations. This study will aim to identify how organizational culture that promotes knowledge management in Medium-Sized Enterprises can increase competitive advantage. This research is highly significant because the competitive advantage is important to Medium-Sized Enterprises. If organizations generate higher benefits, then Medium-Sized Enterprises could help improve residual value for the same desired value. This will increase the competitive advantage for the enterprise (Jones et al., 2021).
The data collected in will help evaluate how the organizational culture can be used to improve the competitive advantage of Medium-Sized Enterprises. This study will prepare organizational leaders in dealing with competitive advantage issues that are brought about by an organizational culture that does not support knowledge management in Medium-Sized Enterprises. Also, the study will contribute to the body of knowledge in business administration and organizational leadership and business by investigating how the organizational culture of Medium-Sized Enterprises can be used to increase their competitive advantage. The findings of this study will highlight the aspects of knowledge management that enhance competitive advantage for Medium-Sized Enterprises in their industries. The aspects of knowledge management that will be studied include process, people, content information technology, and strategy. The aspects of knowledge management are vital in determining how knowledge is handled, shared, analyzed, and used to make decisions within organizations.
The study’s purpose is to explore and address the challenges that face Medium-sized Enterprises as they work towards establishing knowledge management systems. Medium-sized enterprises have failed to launch knowledge management systems successfully and this research could be a turning point (Hussain et al., 2021, Mazorodze, & Buckley, 2021). The aim of the study is to highlight how the problems associated with implementing knowledge management systems could be solved by the relevant stakeholders. Solutions could include government interventions or a Medium-size Enterprise commitment to Knowledge Management Systems (Mazorodze & Buckley, 2021). Lastly, research on this topic could provide opportunities for future research by other scholars in the field of organizational culture and strategic management.
This research will also be significant to practice because it will enhance the development of organizational leadership. This study will foster a new understanding of knowledge management in Medium-Sized enterprises, enhance concepts, and add to the body of knowledge. The successful completion of this research will provide organizational leaders in Medium-Sized Enterprises with the knowledge management strategies that will lead to quicker problem-solving, improved organizational agility, better and faster decision making, increased rate of innovation, supported employee growth and development, improved business processes, and better communication (Mazorodze et al., 2019).
Definitions of Key Terms
Medium-Sized Enterprises
Medium-Sized Enterprises are enterprises that employ 250 or fewer employees. These enterprises do not exceed an annual turnover of $50 million (Chen, 2006).
Knowledge Management
Knowledge management is the process of structuring, defining, sharing, and retaining knowledge and employee experience within an organization (Maier et al., 2011).
Summary
This research study will focus focused on how Medium-Sized Enterprises incorporate knowledge management in their organizational culture. Knowledge management helps organizations to expand their market share, increase revenues, help with target messaging, create customer specific products, and better organizational advertisements. The statement of the problem for this research is why Medium-Sized Enterprises face lower competitive advantage for their inability to utilize organizational cultural strategies that promote knowledge management. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the success of Medium-Sized enterprises in their specific industries by introducing effective knowledge management strategies in the organizational culture of Medium-Sized enterprises. The theoretical framework Ecological Knowledge Management Theory will guide the development of this research. Chapter 2 of this dissertation will focus on the literature review of this study. The next chapter will entail a discussion on the impact of knowledge management strategies and rationale for lower competitive advantage on medium-sized enterprises.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
In this chapter, relevant literature information related and consistent with the objectives of the study was reviewed. Important issues and practical problems were brought out and critically examined so as to determine the current situation. This section was vital as it determined the information that links the research with past studies and what future studies would need to explore so as to improve knowledge.
Conceptual Framework
The literature review of this study of knowledge management is segmented into four domains: leadership, culture, technology, and measurement. These domains are aligned with research conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center (2001).
Leadership indicates the ability of the organization to align knowledge management behaviors with organizational strategies, identify opportunities, promote the value of knowledge management, communicate best strategies, facilitate organizational learning, and develop/create metrics for assessing the impact of knowledge. Examples of the outcome of these six processes are strategic planning, hiring knowledge workers, and evaluating human resources. The leadership role is pivotal because leaders convey the messages of organizational change, and they send the signals that portray the importance of adopting knowledge management across an organization.
Culture refers to the organizational climate or pattern of sharing knowledge as related to organizational members’ behaviors, perceptions, openness, and incentive. Various committees and training development programs are examples of the culture process. Shaping an adequate culture is the most significant and challenging obstacle to overcome for successful knowledge management (Davenport et al., 2008).
Technology refers to the infrastructure of devices and systems that enhance the development and distribution of knowledge across an organization. The literature review revealed that most knowledge management researchers address the significant impact of technology and its role in effective knowledge management. However, it is notable that an overemphasis on technology might cause conceptual confusion between information management 24 and knowledge management. Gold, Malhotra, and Sedars (2011) stress that technology includes the structural dimensions necessary to mobilize social capital for the creation of new knowledge. The examples of this process are internal web-based networks, electronic databases, and so on.
Finally, measurement indicates the assessment methods of knowledge management and their relationships to organizational performance. Skyrme and Amidon (2008) suggest that knowledge management can be assessed in four dimensions: customer, internal process, innovation and learning, and financial. Although there has been skepticism regarding this type of measurement, they attempt to measure it in a way that includes benchmarking and allocating organizational resources.
The Domains of Knowledge Management
Leadership
The literature reviewed in this study affirms the pivotal role of leadership in driving organizational change and adopting and implementing knowledge management. Leadership is also essential for knowledge management systems in matters such as decision making, assigning tasks, and integrating and communicating with people. Desouza and Vanapalli (2005) claim that a leader as a knowledge champion initiates and promotes knowledge management. Seagren, Creswell, and Wheeler (2013) specifically stress that leaders need to address complicated and, yet, urgent issues through strategic planning processes that are needed to transform the institution to successfully respond to social demands. Developing quality leadership is critical at all levels 25 of an organization. Higher education leaders, in particular, must pay attention to human resources, the structure, and the cultural and political climate of the institution. Skyrme (2009) emphasizes the roles of leadership in knowledge management by delineating the work tasks of “Chief Knowledge Officer.” Leadership tasks of this role include: help the organization formulate strategy for development and exploitation of knowledge; support implementation by introducing knowledge management techniques; provide coordination for knowledge specialists; oversee the development of a knowledge infrastructure; and facilitate and support knowledge communities.
Strategies of Leadership
The literature review suggests four key characteristics of leadership that are vitally important to knowledge management: vision, motivation, value of learning, and strategic planning.
Vision
Vision is a leading factor in leadership that transforms organizations, both in terms of culture and structure. The leadership literature provides various perspectives about the concept and function of vision. Dierkes (2011) suggests that organizations in an uncertain environment require visionary leadership. In a knowledge-creating organization, Nonaka (2011) also points out that managers with vision provide a sense of direction that helps members of an organization create new knowledge. This literature review portrays vision as a characteristic that enables leaders to set a standard, facilitate the coordination of organizational activities and systems, and guide people to achieve goals. Visionary leaders address uncertainties that pose threats to an organization.
Motivation
A key to the success of knowledge management is to understand how members in an organization come to believe that they can better perform and contribute to continuous improvement. One of the contributing factors of visionary leadership is to motivate people (Dierkes, 2001). In this regard, motivation is a precondition to continuously justify the vision. Incentives designed to encourage people to share their knowledge seem to have a more positive relation with the cumulative nature of knowledge (Cohen & Levinthal, 2010; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2004). By offering vision and incentives, leadership can promote knowledge sharing and encourage people to participate in creating knowledge (Nonaka, 2011; Smith, McKeen, & Singh, 2016).
Value of learning
Learning is widely recognized as critical to the successful implementation of knowledge management strategies. Learning, or organizational learning, described in the literature converts individual, un-codified, irrelevant information or knowledge to organized, codified and, therefore, sharable and relevant knowledge (Dierkes, 2011; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 2005). Hamel (2011) posits that core competencies of organizations reside in collective learning. The development of technology reinforces innovation efforts such as facilitating collaboration as well as organizational learning (OECD, 2004).
Strategic planning
In an uncertain environment, specific preferences for the future are difficult to predict. Sanchez (2001) stresses the importance of developing future scenarios and 26 preparing responses for them. In his view, organizational learning plays a pivotal role in identifying organizational capabilities, shaping effective strategies, and creating valued knowledge. Long-term, comprehensive strategic planning involves integrating expectations and technology into a vision that enables an organization to prepare for the future (Kermally, 2002).
In summary, a number of factors contribute to the role of leadership in knowledge management practices. Based on this literature review, leadership refers to the ability that enables higher education leaders to align knowledge management behaviors with organizational strategies, offer an opportunity and a direction, identify and recognize best practices and performances, and facilitate organizational learning in order to achieve the established goals.
Culture
Based on the literature review, culture is defined as an organizational environment and a behavioral pattern that enables people to share their ideas and knowledge. According to Trice and Beyer (2013), culture is reflected in values, norms, and practices. Values are embedded, tacit in nature, and, therefore, difficult to articulate and change. Values inspire people to do something. Norms are formulated by values, but more visible than values. If members in an organization believe that sharing knowledge would benefit them, they are more likely to support the idea of sharing their skills and knowledge. Practices are the most tangible form of culture. These three forms of culture influence the behaviors of members in an organization. Organizational culture provides the context within which organizational strategies and policies are decided. A shift of organizational culture is a precondition to successfully implement knowledge management. Knowledge management must be integrated within an existing culture of an organization (Lam, 2005). Shaping a viable culture is vital to successful knowledge management (Davenport et al., 2018).
Chapter 3: Research Method
Medium-Sized Enterprises face resource constraints in terms of human resources, finances, and time (Reference). This inhibits their capability to take advantage of knowledge management benefits that provide them with a competitive advantage in the market. The research problem to be addressed in this study is why medium-sized enterprises experience lower competitive advantage when faced with the inability to utilize organizational cultural strategies that promote knowledge management. The current challenge is that Medium-sized Enterprise’s experience lower competitive advantage when faced with the inability to utilize organization culture strategies that promote knowledge and management. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of organizational culture norms that promote investment in knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises. The study will examine the impact of organizational cultural strategies that promote investment in knowledge management within Medium-Sized Enterprises.
The chapter will explain the research methodology, design, and sample size from which the data will be collected. The chapter will also describe the materials and instrumentations used to collect data from the research participants to identify and define variables utilized in the research. The study will outline how data will be collected and analyzed. collection. The assumptions, limitations, delimitations of the study will be outlined to justify the study. Lastly, the chapter will describe the ethical practices and conclude with a chapter summary.
Research Methodology and Design
According to Schwardt (2007), Creswell and Tashakkori (2007), and Teddlie and Tashakkori (2007), methodologies explicate and define the kinds of problems that are worth investigating; what constitutes a researchable problem; testable hypotheses; how to frame a problem in such a way that it can be investigated using particular designs and procedures; and how to select and develop appropriate means of collecting data. , after identifying the research problem or an area of interest, the researcher must identify appropriate method(s) to approach the problem. To provide direction to this study, the research process ‘onion’ of Saunders et al. (2003) will be adopted. The onion in Figure 1 illustrates the range of choices, paradigms, strategies, and steps followed by researchers during the research process.
Figure 1
Research Process Onion
Note: Where is the note?
The research process onion provides a summary of the important issues that need to be taken into consideration and reviewed before undertaking any research. The different layers of the onion serve as a basis from which to consider the following: the philosophical orientation of the researcher; the research approach adopted; appropriate research strategies; the research time lines that are under review; and the data collection techniques employed by the researcher.
One of the common challenges that researcher in social sciences studies face is to choose between qualitative and quantitative methods. Dina (2012) justifies that research design are developed from research questions and purposes. The research questions and purpose of the study will play an essential role in justifying the most appropriate method and design for the research. Bergold & Thomas (2012) argues that there is not a wrong or right methodology rather focus should be on the appropriateness of the method to the problem being investigated. An appropriate research design and method ensures that the data collected is ideal and relevant towards answering the research questions in place (Dina, 2012). The determination of which research method to use and why fundamentally depends on the research goal.
The study will utilize a qualitative research methodology and will delve into deeper issues of interest to explore nuances related to the problem. Mohajan (2018) defines qualitative research as a research method that focuses on obtaining data through open-ended and broad way of communication. The findings should not only entail what people think about the problem being addressed but also why they think so. The qualitative research method gathers answers on experiences meaning and perspectives, often from the standpoint of the participant.
Qualitative research is defined as a research method that focuses on obtaining data through open-ended and conversational communication (Ormston et al., 2014). This method is not only about “what” people think but also “why” they think so. Qualitative research is based on the disciplines of social sciences like psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Therefore, the qualitative research methods allow for in-depth and further probing and questioning of respondents based on their responses, where the interviewer/researcher also tries to understand their motivation and feelings. Understanding how your audience takes decisions can help derive conclusions in research.
Qualitative research starts from a fundamentally different set of beliefs or paradigms than those that underpin quantitative research. Post-positivist researchers agree with the positivist paradigm, but believe that environmental and individual differences, such as the learning culture or the learners’ capacity to learn, influence this reality, and that these differences are important (Reference). Constructivist researchers believe that there is no single reality, but that the researcher elicits participants’ views of reality (Bergman, 2012). Qualitative research generally draws on post-positivist or constructivist beliefs.
Qualitative data method was the best option since the study could reveal how organizational culture affects knowledge management within the Medium-Sized Enterprise and how management improves the competitive advantage for the medium-sized enterprise. The study will use qualitative data from the readings, document reviews observation, and interviews. The qualitative research unlike to quantitative whereby research is used when confirming or testing something such as a theory or hypothesis (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2013). The focus and purpose of the study will be to understand and determine the impact of knowledge management strategies among Medium-Sized Enterprises.
One of the alternative methodologies that the research may have adopted is quantitative research method. Quantitative research is based on positivist beliefs that there is a singular reality that can be discovered with the appropriate experimental methods (Ormston et al., 2014). However, quantitative method was considered less appropriate for this specific study because no factual data was required. Hammarberg et al., (2016) suggest that quantitative research method is appropriate when information such as probability, attitudes, views, beliefs or preferences is required. Quantitative research method can reveal the percentages of target population demographic information such as their distribution by age, marital status, residential area and others. The study will not focus much on statistical or mathematical analysis thus quantitative research was inappropriate.
Research design allows the research to utilize the evidence obtained to effectively address the research problem logically and unambiguously. The study will employ an exploratory case study research design. A case study is a systematic investigation of a particular group, community or unit to generate an in-depth understanding of a complex issue in a real-life context to generalize other units (Njie & Asimiran, 2014). The appropriateness of a case study is based on its ability to provide factual evidence to persuade during the research process (Rhee et al., 2015). In addition, the research design will enhance the understanding of the variables that knowledge management and organizational cultural norms in Medium-Sized Enterprise.
A case study is a research methodology which helps in phenomenon exploration within some particular context through various data sources. Case studies were one of the first types of research to be used in the field of qualitative methodology. Today, they account for a large proportion of the research presented in books and articles in psychology, history, education, and medicine,. Much of what we know today about the empirical world has been produced by case study research, and many of the most treasured classics in each discipline are case studies (Flyvbjerg, 2011).
Exploration is employed through diversified lenses for the purposes of revealing multiple facets of the study topic. The design is most appropriate when the researcher is interested in obtaining concrete, contextual in-depth awareness about a specific real word subject (Crowe et al., 2011). Case study helps in exploring the key characteristics meanings, and implications of the case. Exploration will therefore be idea for the study as it will allow research to obtain a deep understanding of knowledge management systems used within medium enterprises. This will facilitate making of elaborate recommendations and conclusion for the research.
Ethnography is a qualitative research methodology whereby researchers are allowed to interact with observers or participants who are taking part in the study in their real-life experience (Parker & Silva, 2013). Ethnography is a methodology which largely, though not exclusively, employs qualitative methods. This research methodology has distinctive approach over and above the particular methods it employs, which could be useful in process evaluations to explore the detail of how complex interventions operate(Reference). Through anthropology, the method was popularized. This type of qualitative research is inappropriate for this study as the research researcher will not be interacting with participants but will only engage them through interview.
Phenomenological research is a qualitative research approach that helps in describing the lived experiences of an individual. The phenomenological method focuses on studying the phenomena that has impacted an individual. This approach highlights the specifics and identifies a phenomenon as perceived by an individual in a situation. Phenomenology can also be used to study the commonality in the behaviors of a group of people. The study focuses on knowledge management strategies rather than individual’s thus phenomenological research was deemed inappropriate.
A set of systematic inductive methods for methods to perform qualitative research aimed at theory theoretical development is referred to as a grounded theory (Leung, 2015). This method is made of flexible strategies that enhance the inquiry process which aims at establishing theories linking the data collected with applicable theories. It is important to stress that inductive approach does not imply disregarding theories when formulating research questions and objectives. This approach aims to generate meanings from the data set collected in order to identify patterns and relationships to build a theory (Reference). However, the inductive approach does not prevent the researcher from using existing theory to formulate the research question to be explored. The methodology is less appropriate in comparison with a case study thus inappropriate for this study.
Narrative inquiry research design records the experiences of an individual or small group, revealing the lived experience or particular perspective of that individual, usually primarily through interview which is then recorded and ordered into a chronological narrative. Narrative inquiry uses stories to understand social patterns. Stories from the participants and stories created by researchers from information they gather from participants are at the heart of narrative inquiry. Often recorded as biography, life history or in the case of older/ancient traditional story recording – oral history. This method is not appropriate for the research as like phenomenological research design, the focus in on individuals rather than strategies.
Population and Sample
Describe the population, including the estimated size and relevant characteristics. MET
☐ Explain why the population is appropriate, given the study problem, purpose, and research questions. MET
☐ Describe the sample that will be (proposal) or was (manuscript) obtained. NOT MET
☐ Explain why the sample is appropriate, given the study problem, purpose, and research questions. NOT MET
☐ Explain the type of sampling used and why it is appropriate for the dissertation proposal methodology and design. For qualitative studies, evidence must be presented that saturation will be (proposal) or was (manuscript) reached. For quantitative studies, a power analysis must be reported to include the parameters (e.g., effect size, alpha, beta, and number of groups) included, and evidence must be presented that the minimum required sample size will be (proposal) or was (manuscript) reached. NOT MET
☐ Describe how the participants will be (proposal) or were (manuscript) recruited (e.g., email lists from professional organizations, flyers) and/or the data will be (proposal) or were (manuscript) obtained (e.g., archived data, public records) with sufficient detail so the study could be replicated. NOT MET
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, most countries define a small business as one with 50 or fewer employees, and a mid-size business as one with between 50 and 250 employees (The Ohio State University National Center, 2015). The Ohio State University’s National Center for the Middle Market defines a mid-size company as one with average annual revenue – not profit, but revenue – of between $10 million and $1 billion. As of 2018, the center estimated that about 200,000 U.S. companies met that definition, making them mid-size companies. The National Center for the Middle Market calculates that mid-size companies account for about one-third of private-sector gross domestic product (The Ohio State University National Center, 2015). Mid-size company income increased almost eight percent in 2017, with seventy-nine percent of companies reporting an increase over the prior year. Even during the financial crisis of last decade, mid-size companies outperformed other sectors by adding over two million jobs.
Ohio State University’s National Center for the Middle Market is one of the leading sources of research on issues of interest to mid-size companies in the United States. The center defines a mid-size company as one with average annual revenue – not profit, but revenue – of between $10 million and $1 billion. As of 2018, the center estimated that about 200,000 U.S. companies met that definition, making them mid-size companies. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2018), most countries define a small business as one with 50 or fewer employees, and a mid-size business as one with between 50 and 250 employees.
The research focuses on medium –sized IT companies located in the northeastern part of the United States. The population will comprise of a medium-sized information Technology Company located in the northeastern part of the United States. The population is therefore appropriate as the research is on such companies. The medium –sized IT companies in the northeastern part of the United States will give a true picture on how these companies can use knowledge management strategies to gain competitive advantage and maybe transition to large size companies.
A sample is a smaller group or sub-group obtained from the accessible population (Anokye, 2020). This subgroup is carefully selected so as to be representative of the whole population with the relevant characteristics. Sampling is a procedure, process or technique of choosing a sub-group from a population to participate in the study (Anokye, 2020). Purposive sampling will be used for the study. Also known as judgement sampling, the sampling involves the researcher using their expertise to select a sample that is most useful to the purposes of the research. Purposive sampling often used in qualitative research, where the researcher wants to gain detailed knowledge about a specific phenomenon rather than make statistical inferences, or where the population is very small and specific.
Materials or Instruments
The research instruments used to collect data from the research participants will include individual in-person and video-conferencing interviews. The interviews will take approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. Interviews will be conducted for data collection purposes. During the interviews, the researcher will describe the purpose of the research and inform the participants that they can stop the interview process. The qualitative data collected for this study will be analyzed using descriptive analysis.
An interview guide will be used to structure the way to conduct the research interviews. This will help the researcher to know what to ask about and in what order and it ensures a candidate experience that is the same for all applicants. The guide will compose of seven elements thus ensuring conclusiveness of the data collection process. These elements consist of the invitation & briefing, setting the stage, welcome, questions, candidates’ questions, wrap-up and scoring.
The interview questions will be divided into three sections covering general, body and conclusion. Under general section, the interview will have five questions in relation to the organizational structure and trajectory over the last two years. Answers to questions under this section will help the researcher get to know how different companies have been fairing and their structural set up. The body will cover seven questions in relation to the existing knowledge management strategies and how the enterprise has incorporated the same to its operations. The answers under this section will be key in establishing which knowledge management strategies different companies have put in place. The conclusion part will have three questions to establish the participants own view of the strategy employed by the respective enterprise. The answers under conclusion section of the interview will allows the research get individual’s perspective on the different knowledge management strategies used by the companies they work for. This cumulatively will give a total of fifteen questions for the interview.
Throughout the interview, the questions will be distributed to open -ended, and semi-structured questions. The interview questions will consist of only open-ended questions as they will seek to get participants direct response on the question being asked. The body will be made up of a mixture of closed and open-ended questions. Under this section, the researcher will seek to quickly gain basic information on the strategy being used by the enterprise and the participants understanding of the same.
Data Analysis
The data analysis strategies used to code data includes
Thematic analysis- The method will be used to analyze qualitative information details that involve searching along specific data samples like the location of most of the SMEs geographically and what reasons lie behind their existence in such areas. The method will be useful when describing and interpreting data and coming up with themes.
Qualitative content analysis- This method will be used to gather structure and interpret data in a manner that will be easier to understand. The method is good for non-numerical and unstructured data processing.
Narrative analysis- Narrative analysis will be also applied in analyzing the different clusters of interpreting visual and text that are verbal.
The software used in analyzing the research data is Nvivo and SPSS software’s
During the data analysis, the qualitative data was coded with numbers that could easily be analyzed. For example, the questionnaires that participants were formulated and given choices where participants would only pick one choice from 1 to 4. These choices were qualitative but once the correct choice was picked, the ending information was numerically registered as to how many participants picked what choice. These choices were then quantified and easily tabled and later graphed into Instagram and scatter diagrams.
The researcher played a major role in formulating the questionnaires and ensuring the questions had choices to pick. The next step the researcher did was to distribute the questionnaires to the sample population of SMEs owners and other relevant participants. The researcher would then inform them to pick a choice from 1 to 4 that best answered a certain question. The last thing the researcher did was to convert this feedback and analyze them using SPSS and Nvivo software’s.
Understanding the NVivo software and how to use it in data analysis.
Stage one: I would review my research questions for research questionnaires to ensure they reflect the kind of parameters I am looking for during the research.
Stage two: I would go through several summary memos and transcripts that have been formulated before by other researchers to ensure I assimilate to the same when preparing my research questions
Stage three: I would create a research journal and thereafter develop my coding techniques
Stage five: I would then code the main topic areas and themes of my research
Nvivo software is a programming software applied in mixed method and qualitative research. Basically, it is used in analyzing unstructured audio, text and imaging data. It can also be used to capture social media, journal articles, focus groups and interviews. NVivo is a software program used for qualitative and mixed-methods research. Specifically, it is used for the analysis of unstructured text, audio, video, and image data, including (but not limited to) interviews, focus groups, surveys, social media, and journal articles. It is produced by QSR International
Research coding: Research coding is the manner in which qualitative data is organized and labeled to examine the relationships and different themes that exist among them. The coding comes into two main categories namely the manual coding and automated coding techniques. I would use coding research method when finding concepts and themes which are part of thematic analysis. I would analyze sentences and word structures using thematic analysis to best differentiate the different themes as portrayed by the data
Triangulation: Is the measurement and tracing of a sequence of triangles in efforts to find out the relative position points and distances covered over a certain area. The technique is done by deducing the lengths and sides of one area then observing it from a point of perspective or rather from a baseline point.
Member checking: This is a technique also known as respondent or participant validation. Member checking is a criteria used when exploring the reliability and authenticity of results. This is where the results found are returned back to the participants to check for their resonance and accuracy as it is one of validation techniques used by the researchers.
The collected data will be checked for completeness, coded and captured into Microsoft Excel and NVivo software for analysis. Descriptive statistics to use will include tables, frequencies, weighted mean, and percentages. They will be used to describe the basic features of the data in a study. They provide simple summaries about the sample and the measures. Together with simple graphics analysis, they form the basis of virtually every quantitative analysis of data.
Assumption
Assumptions are things that researchers and peers who read the dissertation or thesis accept as true or at least reasonable. To understand the study’s findings, it is crucial to know what assumptions and restrictions were used. The decisions researchers make in relation to the research methods have a direct impact on the conclusion and recommendation made at the end of the research. By adopting qualitative research, reality is structured and understood in a particular way. This research relies heavily on the premise of honesty and truthfulness on participants. For instance in this study, an assumption is that the participants will give a true and fair views of their business performance, challenges and future plans. The assumptions is that such views cannot be quantified or analyzed apart from just a general observation by the researcher and see if the feedback reflects the physical outlook of the enterprises. In some scenario, comments by the participants then the researcher can only ask for further verbal clarification which cannot be quantified. When applying the assumption techniques, the content assumed is reasoned to be cross cutting to most of the people that would come across the documentation. For instance, when conducting a qualitative research, an assumption can be that people will assume someone is a nerd if he were glasses but the reality could be different and the person may turn out to be an average person and not as witty as it is depicted by the way of wearing glasses.
Limitations
Some significant implications will be drawn from this research. Future research may look at the limits of this method. Control factors such as firm size, industry type, process type and technology type will not be considered in this study’s initial restriction. The use of such control variables will have influenced the findings. A second focus is on the influence of knowledge management and product management on organizational performance as measured at the individual level. Organizations, on the other hand, encourage their workers to collaborate.
Delimitations
The study’s findings will have significant ramifications for the suggested paradigm; however, future research may address several limitations. The link between knowledge management and product management will not be considered in the study’s suggested model. Product managers will need to have access to a wealth of knowledge to be successful. Organizations operating in circumstances that demand rapid innovation will benefit greatly from product management efforts that include knowledge management (Hassan, & Raziq, 2019). The product management operations will be centered upon using, creating, and managing knowledge. Researchers should use various data gathering methods and provide specifics on the kind of questionnaires and interview questions they intend to utilize to ensure that any ambiguity is removed.
However, the study’s delimitations is a major concern, the number of organizations participating in the study would have appreciated information that is quantified to help them in making informed financial choices upon data analysis of their financial trends an d future projections.
Ethical Assurances
An IRB approved consent letter will be provided to all participants to ensure confidentiality, a complete explanation of the study goal, and the voluntary nature of participation to prevent any ethical difficulties. While the participants will be adults, the researcher will prepare the following materials for the IRB application; CITI certificate, eligibility criteria, recruitment materials, consent letter, readability report and data collection instruments. To participate in the interviews, each respondent must first consent to be included. There will be no physical or psychological damage inflicted on the respondents or the research assistants during the study. All data will be stored in a secured file to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of the information for three years. Each participant will be recorded in a pseudonym to enhance privacy and data protection. While the data will be stored in folders, such folders will be password protected in addition to each of the files in the folder having a unique password.
Summary
This study looks at organizational culture norms that promote investment in knowledge management strategies in Medium-Sized Enterprises. This research aims to systematically manage Medium-Sized Enterprise knowledge assets to meet strategic and tactical requirements and create value for the organization. Researchers want to look at how well-managed procedures and the generation of fresh ideas help SMEs transform into successful Multinational business enterprises
The study will be a qualitative research, which will use interviews to collect data from the participants. The researcher will use purposive sampling to identify the population sample to use in the study. Individual in-person and video-conferencing interviews will be the main research instruments as they will give the researcher more information on the study. Data will be analyzed using Microsoft Excel and NVivo software. Both tools will allow the research to deduce different descriptive statistics which will be key in making the study conclusion and recommendations as per the results
Some of the data analysis methodologies used to code data are, thematic analysis used to study qualitative data details that entail searching alongside specific data samples such as the geographical location of most SMEs and the reasons for their occurrence in such locations. When describing and understanding data, as well as coming up with themes, the process will be useful. Secondly is qualitative content analysis used to organize and evaluate data in a more understandable manner. The approach works well with non-numerical and unstructured information. Thirdly, is narrative analysis used to analyze the various clusters of visual and verbal text interpretation.
Chapter 4: Findings
This chapter outlines analysis of research data, research findings and finding discussions. The findings were evaluated according to research objectives and methodology to ensure that research questions are answered. The findings contain results related to demographic characteristics, descriptive analysis and inferential statistics. The study was carried out in the three universities based on the defined criteria in the methodology where lecturers, students and e-learning administrators were requested to provide their views & perception regarding management of cyber security on e-learning platforms.
Reliability of the Data
The Knowledge management (KM) strategies were evaluated and categorized by six criteria: KM objectives, processes, problems, content, strategy, and type of knowledge. The purpose was to find similarities among the sample units. Size, industry, and background information of the company, globalization (national, international), knowledge intensity of the industry, products, business processes, importance of innovation, and main audience of the KM initiative (business unit or whole organization) were also taken into account. Thus, the success of the knowledge management strategies was assessed using two criteria referring to organizational impact:
Was the identified problem resolved by the KM initiative (i.e. usefulness of knowledge management strategies)?
Can the companies report monetary or non-monetary success stories (i.e. business performance)?
Results
The cases show that knowledge management (KM) strategies do not necessarily apply to the whole organization. Almost half of the cases supported business units or departments within an organization. Thus, we considered the business strategy of the company if the KM strategies applies to the whole company and we considered the business strategy of the unit if the KM initiative applies to a business unit. For example, we examined the KM strategies in the audit department of company D. The success of the department is based on the quality and the number of audit reports created by the department. The department delivers the reports directly to the executive board. Thus, its business strategy is to deliver fast and reliable reports to the executives and the goal is to make the audit process as efficient as possible.
The KM strategies can be categorized into four combinations of business strategy and KM strategy:
Codification and efficiency
Efficiency and personalization.
Innovation and codification.
Innovation and personalization.
Research Question 1
How does organizational culture affect knowledge management within the Medium-Sized Enterprise?
Conversely, companies who use knowledge management in order to improve the efficiency of operational processes use databases and information systems to disseminate ‘‘best practices’’ independently from the ‘‘human knowledge carrier’’.
Research Question 2
How does investment in knowledge management improve the competitive advantage for the Medium-Sized Enterprise?
The efficiency strategy relies primarily on the re-use of existing knowledge. It is not necessary to bring people together to share their knowledge directly and combine that knowledge by dialogue in order to create new knowledge.
Evaluation of the Findings
The analysis supported the relationship between business strategy and primary KM strategy. It also showed that some companies deploy both approaches – codification and personalization – within the same KM initiative. This supports propositions that codification and personalization are not two extremes but rather dimensions that can be combined. For example, some KM initiatives with the objective to improve process efficiency mainly relied on the codification strategy and also used instruments like discussions forums or newsgroups to give their employees the opportunity to exchange knowledge and best practices directly.
The case studies did not clearly indicate a higher level of success for the companies that used both approaches. But it can be assumed that a sole reliance on one strategy may be too one-sided, e.g. a sole concentration on codification and reuse of knowledge may not be enough to face the dynamic and turbulence of the market. On the other side, bringing people together does not necessarily lead to innovation if the knowledge is not exploited. We argued that the fit between efficiency and codification on the one side and innovation and personalization on the other side enhances the level of success of a KM initiative. However, it is not clear whether the combination of efficiency and personalization or innovation and codification necessarily lead to less performance of the organization in the long run.
Summary
The findings strongly suggest a relationship between the success of KM in terms of improving business performance of the organization or business unit respectively and the alignment of KM strategy and business strategy. The findings show a matching fit between KM strategy and business strategy. An organization whose business strategy requires efficiency of processes should rely primarily on a codification strategy. An organization whose business strategy requires product or process innovation should rely primarily on a personalization strategy. In addition, the KM initiative should support the objective of the business strategy. For the audit department of Company D, it was important to improve the quality and number of audits. It would have been less important for example to improve the process efficiency for booking flights for the auditors. The KM initiative did support the strategy that added the most value to the department. These findings can also be explained by organizational information processing theory that explains the need for processing information in order to reduce uncertainty and equivocality. Uncertainty deals with the problem of absence of information whereas equivocality means ambiguity and the existence of multiple and conflicting interpretations. Organizations that focus on innovations face high equivocality and need communication channels with high media richness such as face-to-face. Organizations with a focus on efficiency may face less equivocality and codification of knowledge is thus adequate for them.
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