|Title||Knowledge management capabilities in social enterprises|
|Authors||Granados Ortiz, M.L.|
Many studies have researched how organisations can benefit from Knowledge Management (KM). Critical factors, models and frameworks for successful implementations of KM have informed practitioners in different industries and countries. However, there is still a need for exploring other dimensions of KM as well as its application in different contexts. Further empirical evidence and operationalisation, which assure successful implementations, is also needed to improve not only companies but also society in general. Building on that observation, this study presents conceptual and empirical evidence to support the view that KM, understood as an organisational capability, improves organisational performance of the under-researched and increasingly important Social Enterprises (SEs). These, normally micro and small organisations, are gaining worldwide attention and importance as they address, following business principles, crucial social and environmental problems and provide more sustainable solutions. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of empirical evidence of how these organisations operate, perform and scale up.
The study supports this view by developing and empirically testing a model named Knowledge Management Capabilities in Social Enterprises (KMC-SE), which is the main contribution to knowledge of this study. The model describes the organisational pre-conditions and the knowledge activities that can develop Knowledge Management Capabilities (KMCs), which then have an impact on SEs’ performance. A sequential, explanatory, mixed methods’ research design was followed to test the model with empirical evidence from 432 SEs in the UK. The evidence suggests that current KMCs account for up to 20% of overall improvements in SEs’ performance, based on a year-to-year comparison. Moreover, the KMC-SE Model proposes new insights in the traditional way of approaching KM and KMC development, highlighting (a) the important role of human and cultural factors, giving less emphasis to extrinsic motivations and technology, (b) the importance of studying informal KM practices, and (c) the essential inclusion of external dimensions into the equation.
Because of the limited research in organisational characteristics of SEs, and more specifically, their KM practices, the KMC-SE Model may have omitted other important elements that were particular to these organisations in their development of KMCs, as well as their performance measures. Therefore, the obtained KMC-SE Model needs to be considered as only a starting point in the study of KM in SEs.