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An empirical study of the important factors for knowledge‐management adoption in the SME sector

Kuan Yew Wong (Lecturer at the Department of Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Malaysia.)
Elaine Aspinwall (Senior lecturer at the School of Engineering, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Birmingham, UK.)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




To investigate the critical success factors (CSFs) for adopting knowledge management (KM) in small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) – an area that has, to date, received very little attention in the literature.


A survey instrument comprising 11 factors and 66 elements was developed. Through a postal survey, data were sought from SMEs in the UK. A parallel one was also administered to a group of academics, consultants and practitioners in the KM field in order to provide a more holistic view of the CSFs.


The survey instrument was shown to be both reliable and valid. Pertinent statistical analyses were then performed. By integrating the results from both groups of respondents, a prioritised list of CSFs, in order of importance for implementing KM, was generated.

Research limitations/implications

The number of responses received was rather small since KM is a new and emerging discipline, and not many SMEs have formally implemented it.

Practical implications

The results of this study would help SMEs to better understand the KM discipline, to facilitate its adoption and to prioritise its practices. Academics can use the results to build models that would further expand the KM domain.


This study is probably the first to systematically determine the CSFs for KM implementation in the SME sector. It offers a beneficial source of information to SMEs, which are still lagging far behind when it comes to KM practices.



Yew Wong, K. and Aspinwall, E. (2005), "An empirical study of the important factors for knowledge‐management adoption in the SME sector", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 64-82.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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