Since the turn of the century, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have evolved in an increasingly complex business environment, characterized by the internationalization of markets and the need for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and competitiveness based on innovation and knowledge. This has put increasing pressure upon the management of these firms, especially manufacturing SMEs that must develop a capacity to compete globally and in highly competitive environments. In order to lower their operating costs, increase their productivity and the quality of their products and services, and to respond to the increased requirements of their customers and other business partners, a number of these firms have made sizable investments in implementing Internet-based information technologies (IT) as the infrastructure for e-business applications. Now, to the extent that e-business is assimilated by the SME, it can provide it with a dynamic learning capability, that is, it can significantly affect the firm's key business processes and relationships such as collaborating with business partners in the development of new products and servicing customers worldwide, and thus enable the firm's innovation and internationalization processes. The ultimate goal is to achieve greater competitive performance by reaching out to larger markets (internationalization) with new or improved products (innovation).

The aim of this research is to understand how an IT-based dynamic learning capability helps manufacturing SMEs achieve their strategic objectives in terms of competitive performance. From a knowledge management perspective, this research will explore how manufacturing SMEs use their internal resources to transform external information with the support of IT and other capabilities into knowledge that can be used to enhance their competitive performance. The focus will thus be on the SME's knowledge acquisition and assimilation capabilities, that is, on the IT-based means with which the firm communicates and conducts commercial activities with outside parties, collaborates with partners and supports its business intelligence activities (e-business capabilities). The focus will also be on the SME's knowledge transformation and exploitation capabilities, referring to the firm's networking, R&D and marketing capabilities, and to its IT-based advanced manufacturing capabilities (operational capabilities). We hope to show that such a dynamic learning capability should be put in place by Canadian manufacturing SMEs to enhance their relationships with their customers, suppliers and other business partners and thus achieve greater competitive performance on a global stage.

A mixed methods approach that combines both qualitative (case study) and quantitative (survey) methods will be used to carry out the proposed research. First, an initial set of selected measures for each construct will be drawn from the literature. Then, interviews and six case studies will be carried out to refine the research model and elicit potential new measures. Following these activities, the research model will be finalized and the new measures validated. A questionnaire will be developed in both official languages and pre-tested by academics and practitioners. A large scale survey will then be realized.

This research will contribute significantly to both theory and practice. As it aims to better understand how the e-business capabilities of SMEs emerge and affect their operational capabilities, and how the resulting dynamic learning capability improves competitive performance, its results should provide guidance to SME owner-managers and those who support them in enabling the firm's knowledge management through the appropriate deployment of IT.

Chercheur principal

Anne-Marie Croteau (Concordia)

Co-chercheurs

François Bergeron; Louis Raymond (UQTR); Sylvestre Uwizeyemungu (UQTR)

Organisme subventionnaire

CRSH (Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada)

Programme

Subvention Savoir

Secteurs de recherche

Économie du savoir, Organisation du travail

Années

2015 - 2018

Montant accordé

174 804,00 $