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Improving tacit knowledge transfer within SMEs through e-collaboration

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Purpose ‐ The implementation of e-learning can help SMEs to develop skills to cope with their operational environments, but current literature suggests they are not effectively engaged, partly due to a lack of understanding and mistrust of vendors. This paper considers the potential for a more effective transfer of marketing knowledge to firms through e-learning and e-collaboration frameworks. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This research identifies the perceptions of SMEs towards e-learning and the propensity of managers to embrace technology-based training. It investigates SMEs preference for training delivery and the potential for an e-centric collaborative learning environment to support effective knowledge transfer. Findings ‐ Organisations must be capable of learning from experiences and of disseminating learning, to respond to emerging market conditions. The research endorses the need for a focused approach to e-learning that facilitates social interaction and learning in order to harness the value of shared tacit knowledge. Research limitations/implications ‐ The research sample was limited to 24 respondents from the West Midlands region. Practical implications ‐ Support providers need to maximise their research effort in order to fully understand the social and cultural implications of e-collaboration, and offer effective solutions that will allow SMEs to manage and develop their tacit knowledge resources effectively. Originality/value ‐ This paper identifies the need for e-learning solutions to be constructed to add value to the learning experience and to harness the potential for exploiting tacit knowledge in SMEs.
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Keywords: E-learning; Small to medium-sized enterprises; Tacit knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2009

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