Socio-technical factors influencing channel use for knowledge-sharing in regional SME networks
Mason, Cecily, Castleman, Tanya and Parker, Craig 2008, Socio-technical factors influencing channel use for knowledge-sharing in regional SME networks, International journal of knowledge management studies (IJKMS), vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 303-319.
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The economic sustainability of regional areas is dependent on cross-industry innovation and knowledge-sharing among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The web-based initiatives deployed in regions worldwide to facilitate SME knowledge-sharing have typically been unsuccessful. This paper argues that the main reason for these failures is the lack of understanding of the socio-technical factors which influence the use of web-based channels (websites, online forums and expertise databases) as well as the more conventional channels (face-to-face and e-mail). This paper reports the findings of interpretive case studies of two regional SME business networks. It evaluates the major channels on six socio-technical criteria: link strength; trustworthiness; tacitness; usability; durability and currency. None of the channels were strong against all socio-technical factors. This highlights the importance of achieving an appropriate mix of channels to facilitate SME knowledge-sharing.
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