Sustainability of the impact of external intervention within SME maufacturers

Tegoh, Nor Asikin
Sustainability of the impact of external intervention within SME maufacturers. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are not usually prepared for an unexpected hit or crises, and thus, guidance is required frequently in order to maintain their businesses, particularly in sudden unpredictable periods. The concern is on how to embed the necessary knowledge and skills to secure that any resulting improvement is sustainable to SMEs. Viewing this deficiency, thus this study is aimed to explore the sustainability of the impact of an external intervention in SMEs by looking into the complexity of different journeys that companies experience through knowledge acquisition. It investigates how it results in achieving sustainable improvement in manufacturing based SMEs in the Northwest, UK. In doing so, this research considers three theoretical concepts identified as Absorptive Capacity (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990; Zahra & George, 2002; Lane et al, 2006; Todorova and Durisin’s 2007), Tipping Point (Gladwell, 2000, 2002) and Knowing Doing Gap (Pfeffer and Sutton, 2000, 2013). The purpose is to discover the role each plays in developing and supporting an environment so that SMEs can accomplish a degree of sustainable improvement leads to growth. The focus was on in-depth intervention represented by the Knowledge Transfer partnership (KTP) scheme funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), assessed as a platform that embodied the practical and theoretical concepts presented in this work. The term intervention (Done et al, 2011; Ismail, 2011) is defined as an instrument specific to those types of external support that SME’s would seek in order to improve one or more aspects of their businesses. In this thesis, intervention involved three parties. The first of these saw provision of “knowledge experts” from academia – iii universities and institutes. The second concerned technical experts that had already been working within the company. Finally bringing everything together is the KTP that allows transfer of knowledge to take place over the short term (i.e. 1 to 3 years). The results of intervention are critical. Done et al, (2011) suggests that it will have a long term impact by introducing new practices of short term activities such as knowledge transfer. As a qualitative research project, the method used to obtain data was through interviews of selected companies as case studies. The investigation was conducted by revealing the interaction process within the implementation of intervention using an exploratory methodology. In the empirical stage, the framework by Bessant et al. (2005) and the Knowing-Doing Mapping tool were used in mapping the companies and the intervention projects they implemented. The input-process-output analysis produced evidence to support the results. Key criteria and influencing factors such as drivers and constraints were considered to evaluate the current companies’ position, and how they may practically progress from one level to the next. Building on this, those factors were compiled to develop a framework for achieving sustainability. The framework represents an interacting process mapping out the various stages of improvements resulting from the intervention plan created around knowledge. This study investigates the issues that the selected companies faced and their attempts to provide solutions through the use of knowledge transfer. The analysis developed a framework that allowed investigation of factors that impact on the sustainability of external intervention. The framework identifies the “enablers” and “barriers” facing SMEs in this process. Enablers were identified as drivers that motivate the company to move forward. Whilst barriers were identified as impediments that iv SMEs need to avoid for reducing risk in applying embedded knowledge. Therefore it is suggested that by applying this framework companies would become aware of the path or route through which they can find a better chance of success and avoid relapse. This thesis has identified a novel proposition to map and present the path that companies take through acquisition and adaptation of knowledge by engaging with an external party to undertake an intervention project. The results show that a successful journey to achieve a breakthrough can be substantially supported by the correct intervention plan implementation appropriate access of the SMEs to proper guidance. It is observed that successful intervention has geared companies to increase their flexibility and ability in continuous progress and development. In some cases, the company was totally transformed in this respect. This thesis is believed to offer a new approach and model to introducing and implementing interventions project in SMEs that will add value to SMEs, assist them to absorb their required knowledge, and sustain growth and innovation in the firm.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-01-01 (completed)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2015 10:31
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:40
DOI: 10.17638/02009146