ERIC Number: ED445841
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000
Reference Count: N/A
Knowledge as a Resource--Networks Do Matter: A Study of SME Firms in Rural Illinois.
Rural Research Report, v11 n1 Win 2000
Networks among people and businesses facilitate the capture and diffusion of technical and organizational knowledge and can be classified by type of knowledge being exchanged. Types include buyer-supplier information, technical problem-solving information, and informal community information. A survey of 141 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural northeastern Illinois found that not all SME principals saw networks as providing knowledge that benefited their firm, and as a result, network composition and intensity differed. Those firms not perceiving a benefit maintained less intensive networks, focused more on experiential information, and sought information about what is or has been done. The knowledge acquired was adapted to the SME's particular situation and used to improve operations, but the benefits from networking were not maximized. Those perceiving benefits from their networks maintained more intensive, wide-ranging, and overlapping networks. While they also gathered information about what is being done, this group actively maintained contacts with forward-looking expertise and focused on potential. Firms who valued networks were proactive in maintaining them, converted information into new knowledge, and thereby gained competitive advantage and improved performance. Many SMEs that did not value networking did value continuing education, but programs oriented toward the majority may be beyond the comfort zone of this group. Universities, research agencies, and business assistance agencies might better serve high-performance firms by positioning themselves as "contact facilitators." (Contains 14 references.) (TD)
Descriptors: Attitudes, Business Communication, Continuing Education, Education Work Relationship, Entrepreneurship, Informal Education, Networks, Organizational Climate, Organizational Effectiveness, Rural Areas, Small Businesses, Technical Assistance
For full text: http://iira.org/pubs/#RurRsrch.
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serials; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Western Illinois Univ., Macomb. Illinois Inst. for Rural Affairs.
Identifiers - Location: Illinois