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Title: Knowledge capture in small and medium enterprises in the UK construction industry
Author: Suresh, Subashini
ISNI:       0000 0001 3491 3017
Awarding Body: Glasgow Caledonian University
Current Institution: Glasgow Caledonian University
Date of Award: 2006
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The growing popularity of knowledge management in the construction industry has, unfortunately, not been matched by parallel empirical research in challenges, tools, training and benefits of knowledge capture for small and medium enterprises (SMEs); This is more so, given the fact that 99% of firms in the UK construction industry can be classified as SMEs (< 250 employees). The aim of this research is to facilitate knowledge capture initiatives for improved competitiveness in small and medium enterprises in the construction industry. In order to do this, the following objectives were identified: to investigate the main challenges associated with implementing knowledge capture initiatives in SMEs; to investigate the efficacy of different tools (technologies and techniques) for knowledge capture in SMEs; to examine and document the nature of training provisions directed at knowledge capture (including its importance and associated challenges) within and outside organisations; to explore the extent to which knowledge capture initiatives contribute to competitiveness (real and perceived) in SMEs; and to develop and validate an information technology (IT) based awareness tool for improved awareness and understanding of the challenges and significance of knowledge capture initiatives in SMEs. This study was designed in two phases (pilot and main study) in order to fully explore knowledge capture issues from an organisational perspective. This research was conducted in the UK construction industry and involved detailed semi-structured interviews with a total of 53 professionals from 26 organisations. The Grounded theory method was used to guide the data collection and analysis. The data was analysed using Strauss and Corbin's method. It is concluded that the lack of top management support is the main challenge associated with implementing knowledge capture initiatives in SMEs. Face-to-face discussion is the most effective technique for the capture of tacit knowledge. Project databases were seen to be the most effective technology for the capture of explicit knowledge. There is also evidence from the study that effective knowledge capture initiatives can contribute towards improved and sustainable competitiveness in construction SMEs There are very little targeted training programmes on knowledge capture in SMEs. The training programmes that do exist for knowledge capture in construction SMEs are primarily in-house, on-the-job training, and focused towards apprenticeships and mentoring. The emphasis is on the capture of tacit knowledge. There is an urgent need for improved awareness and understanding of the challenges and significance of knowledge. Some form of guidance (roadmap/framework) is perceived by SMEs to be a useful way forward to facilitate improved competitiveness in small and medium enterprises in the construction industry through effective knowledge capture initiatives. A seven-stage hybrid framework for knowledge capture has been developed and presented as part of the study. The framework is incorporated into a computer-based Knowledge Capture Awareness (KCAr) training tool. The developed KCAr tool draws on Kolb's learning theory, which facilities learning through experiencing, reflection, conceptualisation and planning. The KCAr tool was validated using a two-pronged approach. The first was through questionnaire which was completed by professionals. The second was validation conducted within an organisation, which involved 27 members of the organisation. The validation of the awareness tool clearly revealed that practitioners in the construction industry were supportive the tool and in its ability to help raise the level of awareness and understanding of knowledge capture issues. The study recommends that top management should not only be interested in knowledge development but proactively support it. As part of knowledge development, it is important that employees (organisation and project team members) are included in the knowledge capture process. For top management, this also calls for real support and commitment towards staff motivation, creativity, and the ability to provide a comprehensive vision of the relationship between the organisation, project and its environment. Organisations need to determine and implement appropriate mechanisms for effective capture of knowledge. More is also needed in the training of construction personnel. Training programmes should reflect the nature of knowledge capture dimensions as very complex social and technological processes. This current study was conducted on SMEs in the UK construction industry. It is recommended that there is ample scope for this study's research methodology to be taken up by other researchers and implemented on larger organisations, organisations in different industrial sectors, and in developing countries. This should yield rich comparative data and further help improve the needed body of knowledge in this very important area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: grounded theory ; competitiveness ; developing countries ; information technology ; knowledge capture ; knowledge management ; learning ; SMEs ; motivation ; interview