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Inter-organizational knowledge sharing barriers within an sme network: a case study

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th European Conference on Knowledge Management
Subtitle of host publicationBarcelona, Spain, 7-8 September 2017
Place of PublicationReading, UK
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-911218-49-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-911218-48-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventProceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management -
Duration: 28 Sep 2017 → …


ConferenceProceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management
Period28/09/17 → …


SMEs often seek to supplement their scarce resources and limited knowledge base by networking. This calls for efficient knowledge sharing within the network, which is, however, often complicated by the existence of knowledge barriers. This paper seeks answers to the question "what are the knowledge barriers that hinder inter-organizational knowledge sharing in SME networks?" The issue is empirically examined through a case study that was carried out by the participative observation research method. The case is a network consisting of SMEs whose joint objective was to increase the companies' capabilities in digitalization by sharing knowledge within the network. The paper concludes that companies' ability in sharing knowledge within a network vary greatly due to, e.g. varying needs concerning the level of knowledge pursued from the network, imbalanced knowledge base, and cognitive proximity/shared interests of the network companies. Firstly, some companies' goals may be acquiring highly specialized knowledge from the network, while others are potentially interested in harnessing rather general level knowledge. Secondly, those companies that have a broader/deeper knowledge base than others may protect their knowledge more carefully. Thirdly, the lack of understanding the value of knowledge may also lead to unwillingness of sharing knowledge with others, or, vice versa, not being able to utilize the valuable knowledge shared by others. Based on the empirical findings we can conclude that companies that share the same information needs and do not settle for merely sharing knowledge with each other go beyond the typical knowledge sharing and proceed to develop the issues of mutual interest via deeper dialogue.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland