Knowledge Based Approach to Support Innovation Processes in Small and Medium Sized Manufacturing Enterprises




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Knowledge plays a key role in the management of innovation processes in the organisation. A large number of efforts have been made to support the innovation processes by academics and practitioners in the field of Innovation and Knowledge Management. As a result, there are several methods and approaches now available for companies to manage their innovation knowledge more effectively. However, the aspects of knowledge identification, storage and utilisation to support innovation processes has not been researched extensively. In addition, it is argued that the existing methods and approaches which were originally developed and implemented in large organisations do not meet the special requirements of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, there is a need for more research to investigate what information and knowledge sources are being used, how these sources are stored and when they are utilised in the innovation process in SMEs. This thesis inspects the above mentioned issues in greater depth by conducting a series of case studies of the innovation processes in SMEs. The research has been specifically focused on the needs of SMEs in the manufacturing sector and has studied product, process and service innovation. This research programme commenced with a thorough study of the current literature associated with Innovation, Innovation Models, Knowledge Management, Quality Circle Programme and Learning Organisation. The second stage of this research has utilised the findings from the literature review to develop a novel research framework to examine current innovation and knowledge management practices in use within manufacturing SMEs. The programme applied primary research methods to validate the knowledge gained from the secondary research. The UK based manufacturing SMEs were used as test beds to investigate and understand their innovation practices, tools and procedures applied in their innovation processes; and to gather responses to key research questions. In the third stage, the results from the previous stages were utilised to develop a novel knowledge-based innovation framework that implements a new methodology for the adoption of innovation processes in manufacturing SMEs. The construction of the novel innovation framework has been based on individual practices found in traditional problem-solving approaches such as the Quality Circle Programme, combined with a selected group of practices obtained from different management processes such as Knowledge Management and team learning and sharing practices such as Learning Organisation. The fourth stage implemented the proposed framework as a software tool that can be used to support innovation processes. In the final stage, the thesis was concluded with the validation of the proposed knowledge toolset, discussion on the validation results and the application of the toolset to support innovation processes in manufacturing SMEs.





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