St. Petersburg University
Graduate School of Management
Master in Management Program
FACTORS AFFECTING KNOWLEDGE
MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION IN SMALL
Master’s Thesis by the 2nd year student
Concentration — MITIM
Daria R. Morozova
Tatiana A. Gavrilova, Professor
Название магистерской диссертации
Описание цели, задач и основных
Морозова Дарья Романовна
Факторы, влияющие на интеграцию практик
управления знаниями в малых ИТпредприятиях
Высшая школа менеджмента
Гаврилова Татьяна Альбертовна
Цель работы: определить наличие
взаимосвязи практик управления знаниями с
практиками креативности и коммуникаций в
Изучить и охарактеризовать практики
управления знаниями в малых ИТпредприятиях;
Изучить и охарактеризовать практики
креативности в малых ИТ-предприятиях;
Определить взаимосвязь практик
управления знаниями, коммуникативных
практик и практик креативности;
рекомендации для улучшения таких
Исследование показало наличие взаимосвязи
практик управления знаниями,
коммуникативных и креативных практик в
малых ИТ-предприятиях, а также
возможности для улучшения таких практик.
Результаты исследования послужили
аналитической базой для формулирования
практических рекомендаций, в работе также
обсуждаются важные практические
заключения о существующих в организациях
рекомендуется включить в свою практику
оговоренную коммуникативную структуру,
использовать навигационные системы для
поиска информации в системах хранения
знаний, ввести временные ограничения на
разработку идей, использовать карты
балльных оценок, участвовать в
мероприятиях. Предложены идеи для
Управление знаниями, креативность,
коммуникации, стартапы, малые ИТпредприятия
Master Student's Name
Master Thesis Title
Morozova Daria Romanovna
Factors affecting knowledge management
integration in small IT-enterprises
Graduate School of Management
Main field of study
Academic Advisor's Name
Gavrilova Tatiana Albertovna
Description of the goal, tasks and main results The goal of this thesis is to define whether
knowledge management practices
implementation is related to creativity and
communication practices in small ITenterprises.
The tasks of the present thesis are:
To observe and characterize the knowledge
management practices in small IT
To observe and characterize the creativity
and communication practices in small IT
To define the relation of knowledge
management, communication and creativity
practices to each other;
To provide practical recommendations for
enhancement of practices.
The study has found that there is a relation
between knowledge management, creativity and
communication practices in small ITenterprises, which is consistent with the
previous research. The study also has shown
that knowledge management practices in most
organizations, along with explicit creativity
management practices, can be improved.
The analysis of the findings provided a base for
managerial implications and recommendations
generation. The managerial implications discuss
the threat of various biases and organizational
decisions for small IT-enterprises. Among the
recommendations suggested are the introduction
of a certain hierarchy, introduction of a search
system in the knowledge storage systems is
applicable, introduction of time constraints for
development, introduction of an ideas scorecard
system, applicable trainings, and selfdevelopment ideas.
Knowledge management, creativity,
communications, startups, small IT-enterprises
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3
1. Factors and trends in IT industry: a critical review .................................................................... 4
1.1. Knowledge management .......................................................................................................... 4
1.2. Creativity .................................................................................................................................. 9
1.3. Social interactions and communication .................................................................................. 13
1.4. IT companies and SMEs ......................................................................................................... 16
1.5. Research gap, goal, object, research questions, and tasks ..................................................... 19
Summary of chapter 1.................................................................................................................... 21
2. Research design: theoretical foundations and application......................................................... 22
2.1. Research methods for KM, creativity, and SI studies ............................................................ 22
2.2. Methodology of empirical study............................................................................................. 34
Summary of chapter 2.................................................................................................................... 38
3. Observed factors and in small and medium IT-enterprises ....................................................... 40
3.1. Data gathering process: sample and channels ........................................................................ 40
3.2. Results of the empirical study: considerations and analysis .................................................. 41
3.3. Discussion of the results of the empirical study ..................................................................... 63
Summary of chapter 3.................................................................................................................... 67
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 68
Acknowledgements ....................................................................................................................... 69
References ..................................................................................................................................... 70
Appendix 1. Likert-scale interview questions ............................................................................... 76
Appendix 2. Additional considerations ......................................................................................... 79
In the modern business world, proper and efficient management of knowledge and
information is one of the key capabilities that provide for the competitive advantage of a firm.
Information flows become more and more saturated, and increasingly more data needs to be
taken on and analyzed by the employees on the daily basis in order to generate new knowledge.
At the same time, creative solutions are required to sustain the advantage and generate new
The current economic conditions are to a large extent shaped by intangible assets that
become increasingly important as a source of competitive advantage. Peters (2010) states that
there are now three main forms of the knowledge economy: learning, creativity, and openness.
These three notions, to our view, profoundly determine the current conditions of IT market
where companies need to excel not only in the quality of products, but also to be agile and
creative in order to respond to the demand and constant competition.
In the context of operation of IT companies, issues of knowledge management
effectiveness are of great significance as knowledge-related practices in such companies provide
for innovative capabilities of the company and sustain the employee's creativity, which in term
leads to competitive advantage and may even determine survival of the company in the market.
Therefore, in the highly competitive environment, especially the one saturated with small or
medium IT enterprises, it is crucial for a developing IT company to be able to effectively
manage the knowledge base, processes, and supporting notions.
The aim of this study is to identify and analyze such factors that affect knowledge
management practices in small scale IT companies like communication patterns, creativity
levels, and preconditions for knowledge management processes, to conduct empirical
investigation, and to provide possible practical recommendations for the issues identified during
The structure of the present work is as follows: the review of previously published
research literature on topics investigated (chapter I) is followed by the research methodology
design (chapter II). The results of the investigation are analyzed and discussed in chapter III
along with the recommendations generated. The conclusion summarizes the whole body of work
and consummates this thesis.
CHAPTER I. FACTORS AND TRENDS IN IT-INDUSTRY: A CRITICAL REVIEW
Knowledge management has become a widely discussed issue in the scientific literature
and in the business environment. The notion of knowledge management (KM) is regarded and
investigated in numerous aspects raging from the social dimensions of KM practices to
technology related issues. For the purposes of this study, the literature review has several foci –
starting with the general overview of KM-related literature and following a bottle-neck
approach, the literature discussion concerns issues of creativity, communication and
interpersonal relationships in business environments, and such issues in relation to small and
medium enterprises (SMEs). Where available, literature concerning the aforementioned issues in
relation to the IT industry was selected. The research gap and consequently research questions
are identified at the end of this chapter. Figure 1 below presents the relations of issues covered
in this chapter, and shows their order of appearance in the text signified by numbers in brackets.
Accordingly, these subchapters are signified by headings in bold (1, 2, 4, and 7) and bold italic
(3, 5, 6, 8).
Figure 1 Structure of the literature review.
Source: author’s generalization
1.1. Knowledge Management
In this section we refer to the general approaches to knowledge management, definitions
of knowledge, and current perspectives on knowledge management in the literature, and
critically discuss them. The outline of the section is presented in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2 Layout of knowledge management section
Source: author’s generalization
1.1.1. Schools of knowledge management
Contemporary scholars distinguish three main schools of knowledge management.
Handzic and Zhou (2005) generalize the categories as the technocratic, economic and behavioral
schools. The technocratic perspective asserts the role of information and communication
technologies. Main managerial considerations are the content and amounts of knowledge, its
distribution, and the utilization of information.
The behavioral school regards organizational structures that perpetuate knowledge sharing
and pooling as the central issues. Office and work environments are considered to be very
important for the distribution of knowledge as they facilitate contacts and encourage
communication. The behavioral school as well admits the importance of context, culture, and
complexity of knowledge management and its strategic implications.
The third school described by Handzic and Zhou (2005) is the economic school. This
approach considers knowledge to be an organizational asset and aims to create owner's value.
Economic approach emphasizes the importance of patterns and copyrights, i.e. the importance of
intellectual capital management.
1.1.2. Knowledge: definition and approaches
The definition of knowledge, as noted by a number of researches, depends on the needs of
the approach used for a work given. Newell et al. (Newell, Robertson, Scarbrough, Swan,
2009), suggest a working definition - that is, knowledge is 'the ability to discriminate within and
across contexts'. Authors also derive a definition of organizational knowledge, which is 'a
learned set of norms, shared understandings and practices that integrates actors and artifacts to
produce valued outcomes within a specific social and organizational context'. It is also noted in
the same work that notion of knowledge varies across the two major perspectives on knowledge
work. In the epistemology of possession, knowledge is structurally viewed as 'a cognitive entity
– a resource to be accumulated, captured and transferred' (p.18). In the epistemology of practice,
the process view of knowing is 'a social and organizational activity – socially constructed
through interactions in particular contexts', and the practice view assumes that 'knowing […] is
constituted by and constituting fields of interconnected practices'.
Important considerations regarding knowledge and the approaches to its definition are
discussed by Holden (Holden, 2010) in relation to the activities that involve and create or
constitute knowledge. The researcher states that knowledge is generated, codified and
coordinated; it is transferred and ultimately used. Further he lists several definitions of
knowledge formulated by researchers, for example, the one provided by Davenport and Prusak
(p.68) is as follows: 'Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual
information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new
experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the minds of knowers. In
organizations, it often becomes embedded not only in documents and repositories but also in
organizational routines, processes, practices and norms'. This definition, although rather
eloquent and complex, reflects the major considerations that most researches refer to when
discussing the definition of knowledge, such as that it can be not only something that an
individual possess in his or her experience and expertise, but that it can also be shared and
accumulated within the organization and therefore created not by a single individual, but
collectively. This view on knowledge as a phenomenon is important for our future
1.1.3. Knowledge creation
As discussed in paragraph 1.1.2. above, knowledge is created and shared, and these
processes are of interest to contemporary authors. The process of knowledge-creation is deeply
discussed by de Castro, Lopez Saez, Navas Lopez, and Galindo Dorado in their 2007
monograph “Knowledge Creation Process. Theory and Empirical Evidence from KnowledgeIntensive Firms”, and the chapter on the EO-SECI model of knowledge-creation and transfer is
of particular interest. The Epistemological and Ontological Socialization-ExternalizationCombination-Internalization model (de Castro et al., 2007) developed by the authors provides
for the description of every process of knowledge creation and transfer by placing the
ontological and epistemological dimensions of it on the axis. The authors argue that any
knowledge creation process can be identified through naming its initial and final ontological
levels followed by the initial and final epistemological nature involved. Knowledge creation and
transfer in the model may be either intra-level or inter-level, and several descriptive models are
1.1.4. Knowledge sharing
As mentioned above, knowledge is shared within the organization, and such process has
been of interest to a number of researchers. Knowledge sharing, as defined by Bukowitz and
Williams (Bukowitz, Williams, 1999), is 'an activity through which knowledge (namely,
information, skills, or expertise) is exchanged among people, friends, families, communities, or
organizations'. Another process that is very close to knowledge sharing is the process of
knowledge transfer: as noted by Leonard (Leonard, 2007), knowledge transfer is in most
situations two-way and serves the purpose of perpetuating work activities. Sometimes one-way
knowledge transfer occurs when there is a need for the prevention of knowledge loss; a multipleway knowledge transfer may be observed in situations when new products, processes or services
are developed and a number of parties shift between the roles of knowledge senders and
receivers. The author emphasizes the importance of knowledge transfer for the emergence of
creative ideas and solutions and states that collaboration is crucial or the various areas of
knowledge to intersect and then to provide for new knowledge. Several barriers may prevent or
hinder knowledge transfer, for example, these barriers may be the cultural embeddedness and
relativity of knowledge, or its ambiguity. The size and nature of knowledge gap between the
sender and the receiver of knowledge may also be a significant barrier and affect the motivation
to share knowledge at all. The two main modes of knowledge transfer are passive reception and
active learning (p. 63).
1.1.5. Knowledge-intensive firms
Present research as well investigates the notion of knowledge-intensive firms, or similarly,
knowledge creating companies. As stated by Nonaka (Nonaka, 2003, in Newell, 2009), a
knowledge creating firm is a company that consistently creates new knowledge, disseminates it
through the organization, and embodies it in new technologies and products, or, in other words,
it is a company in which innovation is the primary business activity. Newell et al. (2009) define
a knowledge intensive firm as a firm where most of the workers or all of them are knowledge
workers, often defined as 'qualified labor' (ibid., p. 29). They also provide a typological
framework for knowledge intensive firms that can be client-based, problem-solving, and output
based. Resources in such firms respectfully are controlled individually, are team-based, and are
controlled by the organization. IT-firms, legal and accountancy practices, advertising agencies,
and management consultancy companies, as well as educational establishments, are all examples
of knowledge-intensive firms.
Managing knowledge is one of the most challenging tasks a firm encounters nowadays.
Skovvang Christensen and Bukh (2005) summarize important implications drawn from research
dedicated to knowledge management in general and describe it from two perspectives. One of
them is the artifact-oriented epistemology that focuses on explicit knowledge and considers it to
be generally the same as data and information. Knowledge management in that perspective
strives to represent 'the surroundings' as precisely as possible and therefore provide for the
creation and sharing of knowledge via a good infrastructure. Knowledge creation in this
approach is considered to be the identification and capturing of data and information from the
environment in order to represent the reality as good as possible. Knowledge is shared through
technological systems and managed top-down with a codification strategy.
The second approach described (Skovavng Christensen, Bukh, 2005) is the processoriented epistemology, and it considers both the explicit and tacit knowledge. Information
consists of structured data, and in specific contexts it becomes knowledge. Management is
middle-up-down and focuses on the creative individual, that is, on the most essential actor of
knowledge creation. Knowledge creation is described by a spiral-like process (wide-known
SECI-model by Nonaka) as well as knowledge sharing as they move in different ontological
dimensions. The authors as well emphasize that the complexity of creating, sharing and using
knowledge depends on the company structure.
An important consideration regarding knowledge management in organizations is
emphasized by Gavrilova and Grigorev (Gavrilova, Grigorev, 2005): knowledge exists in the
organization no matter whether employees realize its existence or not. Therefore, there is a need
to encourage and support emergent knowledge accumulation and to employ knowledge
management strategies involving both human resources and machine enabled facilities.
1.1.6. Summary of section 1.1.
Review of the literature dedicated to general issues of KM shows that such issues as
knowledge creation, sharing, and transfer are rather widely studied. The connection between
knowledge processes in the firm and firm conditions is shown as well. In the
behavioral/economic line of thought, knowledge and knowledge processes are realized and
implemented in the practice of firms through sharing and transfer, and knowledge created by
employees themselves and via an infrastructure, which has an impact on the practices. For the
current research of IT industry, which is a knowledge intensive industry, it is important to
discuss knowledge management practices in terms of how they can be enhanced through internal
alterations to structure, culture, and other soft dimensions. This implication suggests focusing on
creativity, which is discussed in the next section.
The following part is dedicated to discussion of general creativity studies and those
dealing with KM in various aspects in more detail. The outline of the section is presented in
Figure 3 below.
Figure 3 Layout of creativity section
Source: author’s generalization
1.2.1. Creativity: general discussion
Creativity is a widely discussed issue in the scientific literature. Although most of the
studies are carried out regarding the psychological aspect of the notion, some researchers study
creativity in managerial regard. Creativity is a notion that has gained much scientific attention as
early as in the second half of 19th century, states Iacob (Iacob, 2011). Among significant research
on topic she cites Wallas (Wallas, 1926, in Iacob, 2011) who identified four phases of a creative
process as ‘(i) preparation as the phase in which the problem to be solved is clarified and
understood (ii) incubation when one no longer consciously considers the problem, (iii)
illumination as the phase in which the creative insight occurs, and (iv) verification, the last phase
during which it is verified that the creative insight is indeed a solution for the problem to be
solved’ (p.343). A later attempt at creativity process description was undertaken by Osborn
(Osborn, 1953, in Iacob, 2011) who proposed a two-phase model for defining a creative process:
(i) idea generation, which consists of two sub processes, fact finding phase and idea finding
phase, and (ii) idea evaluation.
Starting from approximately 1980s, creativity becomes an issue in managerial scientific
literature as well. One of the famous researchers studying creativity in business setting is Teresa
Amabile. Her componential theory of creativity is currently, after some alterations since the 80s,
is presented as a model of three components. These components are expertise (knowledgetechnical, procedural, and intellectual), creative thinking skills (flexibility and imagination in
problem-solving), and motivation. The intersection of these components provides for creativity
(Amabile, 2012). Amabile in her works discusses the importance of creativity for innovation,
value of intrinsic motivation for creative problem-solving, and the effects of creativity on
business performance. According to her, creativity is manageable within an organization, and a
plan can be developed in order to foster creative work and engagement (Amabile, 1998).
An attempt at describing organizational creativity via a theoretical framework was
undertaken in the beginning of the 90s by Woodman, Sawyer, and Griffin (Woodman et al.,
1993). Defining organizational creativity as the creation of a valuable, useful new product,
service, idea, procedure, or process by individuals working together in a complex social system,
they discuss interactionist model of organizational creativity, linking individual performance to
creative outcome via group and organizational performance. In this model, such factors of
individual creativity as antecedent conditions, cognitive styles and abilities, personality,
motivation, and knowledge are influenced and influence social and contextual factors within the
group and consequently in organizations. At the same time, as noted by the authors, group
creativity is not a mere sum of individual creativity, and the same is valid for the relationship of
organizational and group creativity. Information exchange within the organizations and groups
working on technical development was positively influenced by communication of group
Creativity as a manageable notion is often linked to creative industries. Bilton (Bilton,
2007) in his book “Creativity and Management” discusses a broad range of managerial
implications of creativity in the relation to the industry traditionally described as creative (arts,
music production, theatre, etc.). Regarding the management of creative teams, Bilton states that
creativity managers face two major challenges - diversity and flexibility sustainment, and overspecialization avoidance. At the same time, management of creative organizations, according to
Bilton, is opposed to the classical hierarchical models of management and implies a more
flexible approach to intra-team relationship management. In such creative teams, roles of team
members can often be diffused, and a high degree of self-awareness, interaction and empathy is
crucial for the team success.
1.2.2. KM and creativity
A number of studies link creativity to knowledge management. For instance, Saulais and
Ermine (Saulais and Ermine, 2012) associate creativity with the evolution of intellectual corpus
of an organization. Intellectual corpus is the inventive part of the knowledge capital. Creativity
diverges from chaos, and, as the evolutional process, it is influenced by cognitive stimuli.
Describing the organizational environment of creative actions, the authors propose the
intellectual corpus systemic model that can be applied for the enhancement of the knowledge
value chain of an organization. This system, otherwise called the AIL systemic model, unites
three subsystems - Innovation Actors (A), Intellectual Corpus Information System (I), and
Intellectual Corpus (L) - via out- and inbound creativity and inventivity. Under this system,
knowledge actors (A) exploiting data bases (I) accumulate creative results in the form of
intellectual corpus (L) for value generation, and the main emphasis is put on the appropriate KM
as management of knowledge creators, their performance and own knowledge, as well as
knowledge sharing and collegial creation of intellectual property.
Groenau, Thim and Ulrich (2012) studied application of creative techniques to KM
problems in the context of knowledge socialization. Deterring from the conventional point of
view that there are two non-overlapping approaches to creativity, artistic and engineering, and
referring to Thierauf and Hoctor (2006) who stated that creativity techniques can be successfully
used for KM systems development, the authors (Groenau et al., 2012) developed and tested a
creative framework for KM development practices at an IT department of an industrial company
in Germany. The results of this case study showed that creativity techniques can be effectively
implemented if fitted into certain patterns considering the organization's peculiarities.
Knowledge creation, creativity and innovation are often linked together. For instance,
Auernhammer and Hall (2014) discuss a Freiraum model which implies that a company should
establish such a knowledge management model in order to promote creativity and foster
innovation that would provide for an organizational structure allowing out-of-the-pattern
thinking, employees’ willingness to innovate and create, and a special environment designated
for creative thinking. All these are as well dependent on organizational culture that includes
leadership and social conditions. Application of this model in a manufacturing firm, according to
the authors, results in knowledge creation processes’ improvement in relation to creativity and a
more innovative environment.
1.2.3. Individual creativity and KM processes
Some researchers are specifically interested in individual KM aptitudes’ influence on
creativity. Yeh and Lin (Yeh, Lin, 2015) found that KM-based training was beneficial for
creativity improvement in an e-learning environment, in other words, their study has shown that
a more effective application of KM instruments was the reason for creativity level enhancement.
As many IT firms integrate blended KM models into employee training, an implication of this
study suggests that for creativity development of IT workers e-learning systems integrating KM
instruments could be of good use.
Phipps and Prieto (2012) investigate the relationship of KM to individual creativity. Again
supporting the issue that creativity is vital for organizational success, they state that knowledge
provides basic building blocks that in combination provide for creative ideas and solutions.
Transition from knowledge to creativity is facilitated by the entrepreneurial mindset, which
defines a person's ways of thinking and problem-solving, as well as problem definition and
opportunity seeking. Authors conclude that knowledge management practices of an organization
therefore have an influence on individual creativity.
Rahimi, Arbabisarjou, Allameh, and Aghababaei (2011) study creativity in relation to KM
on the individual level. The results of the study show that the correlation between KM and
creativity levels was positive regardless of other variables such as gender, age, and similar,
however, the authors emphasize importance of such factors like language, organizational culture,
confidentiality, and others for KM implementation in knowledge-intensive organizations.
1.2.4. Team creativity and KM processes
Gilson et al. (2015) study creativity as a building block for innovation and
entrepreneurship in teams. Pointing out that a team can be more creative than an individual, the
authors discuss Rhode’s (Rhodes, 1961 cited in Gilson et al., 2015) model of team creativity –
the 4Ps Framework. The Ps are Person, Process, Press, and Products. In this framework, person
describes the creative actors; process characterizes engagement in creative actions and includes
thinking, communication, learning and incubation. Press considers creativity as a result of
people’s interaction, including the patterns of communication and relationship elements, and
products are the outcomes of the creative process.
1.2.5. KM and creativity: influence on performance
Chang, Hung, and Lin (Chan et al., 2014) explore the relationship between KM and
creativity from the point of new product performance. In their model, creativity mediates the
relationship between knowledge creation and new product performance (NPP): knowledge
creation has a positive significant influence on NPP, which results in increased profitability of
the company as the new product becomes more successful due to knowledge creation. This
means that knowledge is of importance for a company’s creativity, and knowledge creation
increases. Therefore, an implication of the study is that companies should engage in
comprehensive knowledge creation processes in order to improve their performance.
1.2.6. KM, creativity and organizational culture and communications
Creativity in connection to business, innovation and entrepreneurship is a focus of a
number of current scientific works as well. In the recent Oxford Handbook of Creativity,
Innovation and Entrepreneurship (eds. Shalley, Hitt, Zhou, 2015) these issues are discussed in
various perspectives. For instance, Perry-Smith and Manucci (Perry-Smith, Manucci, in Shalley
et. al, 2015) discuss the relationship between social networks and connections in the
organizations. Starting from the personal viewpoint on creativity, authors research the impact of
the individual’s position within the network on his or her creative performance, and conclude
that relationship quality has an impact on creativity.
Another aspect of creativity studies is the cultural element of creativity. In the same
handbook (eds. Shalley et al., 2015), Leung and Wang discuss the societal culture and
organizational creativity, and state that although diversity is often perceived as a beneficial factor
that should positively influence creativity, experimental findings do not always confirm such
correlation. Of great importance in cases of diverse companies is then intercultural competence
that helps overcome hindrances caused by misunderstandings that potentially decrease creative
capabilities. At the same time, a high level of creative capabilities is observed among people who
can be described as multicultural, that is, those who embody more than one culture in their daily
practices and attitudes.
1.2.7. Creativity formation
Creativity formation is another notion of interest currently studied in academia. For
instance, Yan, Davison and Mo (Yan et al., 2013) found that knowledge seeking and knowledge
contributing as sub-processes of KM within an organization have to occur in order for the state
of flow (which is a state of mind when a person is absorbed in what he or she is doing) to be
established, and such state of mind can further result in creativity. A means to knowledge seeking
and contributing in the case of this study is Web 2.0, which allows participants of the process to
both share and acquire information. The findings of this study imply, specifically for small- and
medium-sized organizations, that a knowledge sharing process, which can benefit creativity, can
be organized by use of external resources and not necessarily by establishment of own
formalized KM applications.
1.2.8. Summary of section 1.2.
Review of literature dedicated to creativity issues and especially issues of creativity and
knowledge management shows that current researchers are investigating the connections
between creativity and knowledge management in different settings and both from the personal
and collective perspective. Creativity appears to be positively linked to performance and may be
enhanced through knowledge management practices, as well as through establishment of a
nurturing environment within the organization.
1.3. Social interactions and communication
Issues of communications and interpersonal relationships along with emotional attitudes
in organization and managerial processes are profoundly discussed in different regards raging
from strategic leadership to communication campaigns, so for the purposes of this research we
only refer to several works discussion communication processes in organizations. The outline of
the section is presented in Figure 4 below.
Figure 4 Layout of social interactions and communication section
Source: author’s generalization
1.3.1. Communications and interaction: general considerations
Cooren, Kuhn, Cornelissen and Clark (Cooren et al., 2011) provide an extensive overview
of the scientific body of knowledge regarding the processes and mechanisms that are involved in
communicative organizing and organizations. Referring to previous research, they state that
human communication constitutes organizations: this notion is the basis for the Communicative
Constitution of Organization (CCO) approach. Under this approach, organizations are ‘portrayed
[…] as ongoing and precarious accomplishments realized, experienced and identified primarily
[…] in communication processes. Communication forms are varied (e.g. verbal and non-verbal,
texts and discourses, turn-taking, faces, etc.), and in this emergent perspective of CCO are not
regarded separately as something that just happens in the organization, but rather than something
that constructs the organization. Thereby, COO reconstitutes ontological and epistemological
positions of an organization.
In the same chapter, Cooren et al. discuss several models of communication in the COO
approach, of which the most relevant and interesting one is the McPhee’s four-flows model
(McPhee, 2004, in Cooren et al., 2011). This model includes the four flows, or processes:
membership negotiation, reflexive self-structuring, activity coordination, and institutional
positioning. These flows organize and constitute organizations by producing and reproducing
social structures through boundaries definition, linking of members, operations shaping and
interaction adaptation. According to McPhee, these flows combine interactive episodes into a
social system that is the organization itself.
1.3.2. KM and communications
Overall (2015) suggests that relationship quality within a knowledge-intensive
organization is crucial for employee commitment and satisfaction, which in their turn, coupled
with adequate KM measures, are the basis for effective innovation management and better
performance. Therefore, leaders who foster relationship quality are more likely to enhance the
knowledge within their organizations and contribute to innovative endeavors.
1.3.3. KM, communications, and creativity
Communication, KM, and creativity are the focus of Gabberty and Thomas’s article
(Gabberty, Thomas, 2007) on knowledge management in multinational corporations and its
linkage to creativity and innovation promotion. According to them, organizational knowledge of
multinational corporations (MNCs) in a creative process foregoes three zones. In the tacit
knowledge zone happens the idea spark, which is next, upon exploration and generation of ideas,
transferred to the non-binding refinement zone via information systems. At this point, the idea is
evaluated at local and international levels. Proceeding again via information systems, it is
transferred to the explicit knowledge zone (EKZ). In the EKZ, the idea is discussed with the use
of ICT and either approved or implemented, or sent back for further development. The whole
mechanism is enabled by communication of feedback carried out by the ICT, and from the
authors’ point of view provides for the knowledge dissemination across MNCs. Cultural,
semiotic, and pricing issues, along with security concerns, are the limiting factors may hinder the
process of communication of creative ideas.
Peng, Zhang, Fu, and Tan (Peng et al., 2012) investigated organizational innovation and
individual creativity under the impact of such factors as employee relationship, knowledge
sharing, and IT application maturity. Constructing a social network of employees by the analysis
of their relationships and communications, the authors had found that the centrality (that is,
number of connections to other members of the network) of an individual has significant positive
impact on his or her individual creativity. It is also emphasized that knowledge sharing and
employee relationship enhancement are critical for innovation and creativity.
Goh and Lim (2014) studied complex relations between KM, creativity and emotional
interaction in multinational corporations. The results of their study show that knowledge-sharing
behavior is influenced by emotional intelligence. Knowledge is a precondition to creativity, and
therefore knowledge-sharing behavior enhances creativity, exposing individuals to new ideas.
The study concludes that both knowledge collection and donation positively affect creativity, and
emotional intelligence has a positive effect on willingness to share knowledge, therefore, both
should be promoted in an organization.
1.3.4. Summary of section 1.3.
As can be concluded from the review of literature on communications, interactions within
a firm are of crucial importance and to a large extent constitute the firm’s activities. At the same
time, KM and creativity issues are found to be in an important connection with each other; it is
even possible to conclude that the better the relationships in emotional terms are and the more
effective is the communication, the better it is for the KM processes and creativity application in
the organization given. Knowledge processes can be enhanced through creativity and fostered
personal relationships as well, and these factors in complex can positively affect organizational
1.4. IT companies and SMEs
In this section we discuss research of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including,
but not limited to, those from the IT sector of economy. These are studies relating to previously
discussed issues (KM, creativity, communication) in the IT sphere, and studies dedicated to KM,
creativity, and communication issues in SMEs. Where applicable, research uniting all issues in
question – IT, SMEs, and KM – was selected for review. The outline of the section is presented
in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5 Layout of IT companies and SMEs section
Source: author’s generalization
1.4.1. KM in the IT industry
Knowledge management processes are of vast consideration regarding the IT industry. For
instance, Lai and Tsen (2013) study knowledge accumulation in Taiwan IT industry in relation to
system development life cycle. Suresh (2013) researched KM practices of IT organizations in
India in relation to adoption of such practices and innovations. Crawford, de la Barra, Soto,
Misra, and Monfroy (2012) conducted an international study of knowledge management and
creativity practices in software engineering, and emphasized the importance of communication
and managerial styles for creative production. Stirbu (2014) surveyed KM trends in 551 IT
companies in Romania and found that knowledge-based strategies are not common for the sector.
Jain and Dahiya (2010) propose a multi-agent KM system specifically designed for the IT
1.4.2. KM in SMEs
In entrepreneurial ventures, which are often classified as SMEs, knowledge management
is important in terms of idea development and commercialization.
Sartori (2012) discusses collective creativity management in SMEs and states that
formalization of creativity improves innovative capabilities of an organization. The Complex
Knowledge Structures and Case-Based Reasoning approach proposed in the paper enable
creative SMEs in organizing their knowledge in such a way that it is not lost if a member of the
organization leaves it, which is more hurtful for smaller organizations then for the big ones.
Mohannak (2014) pays special attention to knowledge management in small and medium
enterprises and finds that one of the main challenges is to establish and manage effective and
adaptive IT systems that would help manage and share knowledge within the organization.
Explicit KM strategies are not typical for SMEs, and given the fact that KM benefits innovative
costs and risks, team knowledge integration practices along with the strategic developments
should be fostered.
According to a study by Lee, Ho and Chiu (2008), non-financial performance of an SME
is enhanced by set-up infrastructures of KM. Such infrastructures combine strategic, leadership,
organizational culture and employee dimensions and require an establishment of a special unit in
charge of KM. A survey of SMEs shows that such infrastructures significantly and positively
influence performance in two perspectives - learning and growth.
1.4.3. KM and communications in SMEs
Du Plessis (2008) studies the importance of social interactions for small and medium
enterprises and implementation for knowledge sharing and value creation. Their application, as
stated by the author, should be a starting step for the KM practices establishment at a small or
Hola (2012) examines internal communications in SMEs on a sample of 800 SMEs in
Czech Republic. According to her, communication is a managerial instrument and an instrument
for corporate culture establishment which penetrates the whole organization. KM is often the
basis for internal communication processes set up and serves the purposes of notion clarification,
objectives setting, assessment of current conditions, setting of necessary regulatory factors
(premises, processes, standards), setting of communications and ICT infrastructure, and finally
verification and evaluation. According to Hola, internal communications affect behavior, and
employees should be treated as “internal partners” (p. 43) in order for them to behave in line
with the strategic goals of a company.
1.4.4. KM, creativity, and communications in SMEs
High-tech entrepreneurial ventures, as stated in Gaimon and Bailey (2013), exploit KM
practices throughout all stages of the discover-evaluate-develop-commercialize life cycle. From
the very beginning of idea development, creativity, alertness, quantity and quality of ideas are
improved through KM. Creative outcomes are influenced by stock of knowledge of a creative
actor and benefit from collaboration, which in term is good for an enterprise's performance.
Khedhaouria and Ribiere (2013) describe knowledge sourcing processes and creativity in
teams working on IT projects. They found that team members' access to internal knowledge and
involvement in KM processes led to team creativity emergence. Accordingly, since team
members' engagement in common knowledge sourcing practices improves creativity in the
software development process, knowledge sourcing in a team should be encouraged.
Mittal and Dhar (2015), relating to their research of employee relationships in small and
medium IT enterprises in an emerging market, state that creativity in such organizations is
moderated by the knowledge sharing habits of the leader. Creativity leads to a sustainable
competitive advantage and therefore needs to be sustained, and knowledge sharing processes
between leaders and subordinates are to be encouraged.
Knowledge that results in creativity and high performance of new products launched by
high-technology firms is studied by Yang and Rui (2009). The authors state that creativity
increases with growing knowledge dissemination. Next, new product creativity continuously
improves with increasing knowledge innovation. When knowledge dissemination is driven by
communication processes and information flows, creativity is enhanced. Firms encouraging such
circulation were found to be more efficient, and therefore, firms need to enhance their KM
capabilities to increase new product creativity.
Tang and Ye’s study of 32 R&D teams (Tang and Ye, 2015) is dedicated to
interdependence of knowledge, creativity and networks in organization. The findings confirmed
that diversified knowledge among teams with the ties to outsiders (mediated by communication
tools or unmediated) is beneficial for team creativity, and at the same time, decentralized
networks provide for generation of better solutions for complex problems. An important
implication of this study is that for creativity performance improvement in small and medium
organizations knowledge sharing behavior should be encouraged and dominating behavior
1.4.5. Section 1.4.
The analysis of the literature dedicated to SMEs, specifically IT-firms, KM and
communicative processes, and creativity shows that these issues are of importance at the present
time. KM processes rely on communication, and in their turn are the basis for creative processes
and production of creative results. A positive relationship between the quality of results and the
quality of KM and communication is found, however, there is not enough evidence as to what
exactly influences and alters the interdependence of these factors. Organizational characteristics
such as culture, cooperation and leadership styles, and innovative environment are found to be
related to creativity and KM as well, however, the body of research is rather limited in relation to
small and medium IT-enterprises.
1.5. Research gap, goal, object, research questions, and tasks
As we have shown above, there is a significant number studies dedicated to problems of
KM in organizations across various industries, as well as of those devoted to creativity,
communications, and SMEs separately. The combinative research of all these notions in the
organizational context is narrower. The main foci of that research corpus are the relationship
between KM processes and creative processes in organizations both from individual and team
perspective. A limited number of researchers study such connections in emerging markets, and
even less are concerned with the Russian small IT-enterprises, specifically the startups.
Therefore, the research gap identified for this thesis is the dependence of creativity and
communication practices with knowledge management in small IT-enterprises. The research gap
is identified in the relation to the complex of phenomena in bold in the Figure 6 below.
Figure 6 Research gap.
Source: author’s generalization
Consequently, the goal of this thesis is to define whether knowledge management
practices’ implementation is related to creativity and communication practices in small ITenterprises.
The object of the study are small IT-enterprises that are involved in the development and
distribution of IT-applications and services, and are operating in Russian and international
The research questions are:
1) To what extent are the KM-intensive vs. KM-non-intensive practices applied in
the organizations studied?
2) What are the general features of creativity and communication practices in the
3) What is the relation between knowledge management, creativity and
communication practices to each other in the organizations studied?
The tasks of the present thesis are:
1) To observe and characterize the knowledge management practices in small IT
2) To observe and characterize the creativity and communication practices in small IT
3) To define the relation of knowledge management, communication and creativity
practices to each other;
4) To provide practical recommendations for enhancement of practices.
In order to answer the research questions and fulfill the objectives, an empirical
investigation is carried out. The methodology of this investigation and the results are discussed
in the consequent chapters.
Summary of chapter 1
Chapter 1 provides an overview of existing literature and research dedicated to the issues of
knowledge management, creativity, communications and effectiveness in IT-enterprises in
general and SMEs in particular.
Chapter 1 states the goal of this thesis as establishment of body of knowledge related to the
existence or non-existence of a connection between creativity and knowledge management
practices of a small-scale enterprise involved in the IT-sector and its effectiveness.
The research gap is identified and relates to the interdependence of the KM, creativity, and
communication practices and their effect on effectiveness of IT-SMEs, and the corresponding
research questions are formulated in order to cover it.
CHAPTER II. RESEARCH DESIGN: THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND
As previously shown in the literature review, there are a few key points of research and
interest in the current knowledge management tendencies in the IT-industry. For the purposes of
this research and to pursue the objectives stated above, we shall focus on the notion of creativity
development and fostering, and influence of communication on knowledge management
The first part of this chapter is devoted to an overview of existing research methods, their
application and purpose. Appropriate techniques are selected and are further elaborated on in the
context of the current research. The actual research design is described in the second part of this
chapter by dividing it into two sub-processes.
The outline of this chapter is presented in the Figure 7 below.
Figure 7 Structure of chapter 2
Source: author’s generalization
2.1. Research methods for KM, creativity and social interactions studies
In the scientific tradition, research methods are classified by various parameters. As the
opposition basic/applied research is not quite relevant for the purposes of current research
methods justification, we shall refer to the distinction by the data type. In this case, research
methods are classified as qualitative and quantitative. The overview of the variety of methods is
2.1.1. Quantitative research methods
Quantitative research methods are the ones designed to gather and explore numerical data
that is then subject to statistical, mathematical or computational analysis. In other words,
qualitative research methods deal with the qualitative data, which is defined by Ghosh and
Chopra (2003) as ‘data which can be expressed numerically or classified by some numerical
value’ (Ghosh, Chopra, 2003, cited in Lancaster, 2005, p. 66).
Therefore, for quantitative research it is first of all important to understand what kind of
data is being dealt with. We refer to the classification provided by Saunders, Lewis, and
Thornhill (Saunders et al., 2009).
The primary division is categorical and numerical data. Categorical data is data that cannot
be measured numerically as quantities. Numerical data is data that can be measured in such way.
There are several types of quantitative data:
Descriptive dichotomous data: categorical data that can't be divided into more than
Descriptive nominal data: categorical data that can be divided into more than two sets
and these sets can't be placed in the rank order.
Ranked ordinal data: categorical data that can be divided into more than two sets and
these sets can be placed in the rank order.
Interval data: numerical data for which relevant distance between two data values
cannot be calculated.
Ratio data: numerical data for which relevant distance between two data can be
Continuous data: numerical data whose values can take any value and be measured
Discrete data: data values take precise meanings for scales that are often integers.
Acquisition of quantitative data can be carried out in several ways. First, this is possible
through the analysis of secondary data represented in publicly issued information tables, reports,
and similar. Secondly, there are several techniques that provide for the collection of primary data
that can be expressed quantitatively. These techniques are, for instance (Welman, Kruger,
Surveys: quantifiable data is represented, for example, as the number of occurrences of
any given variable;
Rating scales: quantifiable data represented by ranges;
Observations: checklist for number of occurrences of a certain phenomenon in a certain
context (time span, text, etc.);
Structured interviews with closed questions: basically an oral variant of a survey.
For the analysis of such types of data a variety of computational techniques is applied. The
majority of such techniques are either mathematical or statistical, and an appropriate technique is
selected upon the definition of the type of data (1-7 above).
Summarizing the description of quantitative methods it should be mentioned that Lancaster
(2005) states that the most frequent purpose of quantitative research methods application is the
case of theory testing; quantitative methods are also applicable for exploratory research and
hypotheses generation. Finally, Cooper and Schindler (2006) shortly define the purpose of study
as the ‘precise measurement of something’ (p. 198).
2.1.2. Qualitative research methods
Another major type of research is the qualitative research. Used for the cases when the
information to be obtained can’t be easily represented in numbers - that is, when the object of
interest is the people’s lifestyles or habits, qualitative research provides discursive information.
Ghosh and Chopra (2003, in Lancaster, 2005) define qualitative data as the data ‘in form of
descriptive accounts of observations or data which is classified by type’ (p. 66). In other words,
qualitative research is used to obtain complex textual descriptions of how the research issues are
represented in the lives of individuals and to understand their experiences, occurring events and
their influences, and so on. For this matter, the notion of text not only refers to information
written in a codified manner, but as well to videos, audios, works of art, and so on.
The process of qualitative research is described as a step-by-step process by Cooper and
Schindler (2006). First, the research question is clarified and refined after deliberations. Upon
that, a research proposal is generated, and research design strategy is developed. The research
design strategy defines the type, purpose, time frame, scope and environment of the research. At
the same time, data collection design and sample size and recruiting plan are defined, and
discussion guide is developed and pretested. Next, data collection and preparation are carried
out, and moderators, observes and participants are debriefed. Further on, insights are developed
and data are interpreted, which results in a research report.
One of the peculiarities of qualitative research is that it requires a smaller sample size as
compared to quantitative research. According to Cooper and Schindler (2006), qualitative
research does not require much effort for representative sample generation, and therefore
nonprobability sampling is common. Examples of such sampling are purposive sampling when
participants are purposefully chosen by the researchers due to some specific features, snowball
sampling when participants refer the researcher to other potential participants, and convenience
sampling, when any available respondents are selected for information gathering.
There are three most common qualitative methods as identified in the Field Guide (Mack et
al., 2005). Such methods are observations, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, and these are
explained in more detail below.
Observations can be classified into two types by the level of inclusion of the observer into
the practices that are being observed. In one case, when the observer only watches and takes no
part in the activities that are being researched, observation is characterized as non-participant
The other type of observation is participant observation, and this is when the researcher
takes immediate part in the activities being carried out. Both types of observation are widely
used to obtain data on naturally and normally occurring behaviors in their daily contexts.
188.8.131.52. Projective techniques
A large group of qualitative methods is classified as projective techniques. Among the most
common are the some of those that are listed by Cooper and Schindler (2006):
Word or picture association: participants match their experiences and basically any
semiotic signs to the object of the study through a mental connection.
Sentence completion: respondents finish given sentences with their own words.
Cartoons or empty balloons: a participant is required to write captions for a picture,
like in a comic book or in a cartoon.
Thematic Apperception Test: participants describe the feelings and thoughts of a
person in a picture.
Component sorts: respondents combine new sets of presented flash cards
containing component features.
Laddering or benefit chain: functional features of an object are linked by
participants to both tangible and intangible benefits provided by this object.
Imagination exercises: respondents are asked to confer properties and features of
one object to properties and features of another object.
Personification: participants fantasize about objects becoming people and describe
the personalities of those people.
Semantic mapping: participants describe their perceptions of several items in
relation to a pre-defined number of criteria.
An interview can generated both quantitative and qualitative data depending on the scope
and type of questions and information to be elicited. There are several types of interviews
described in the literature.
According to Lancaster (2005), interviewing is one of the main techniques for data
collection through questioning. Interviewing is subject to a large variety of polar approaches
varying on several dimensions. These polar approaches are presented in the Table 1 below.
Table 1 Dimensions and differences of interviewing techniques
Dimensions and differences
Source: adapted from Lancaster (2005)
Further on, Lancaster (2005) lists several types of interviews discussed in the list below:
Conversations and storytelling assume that a researcher collects information when
engaging in the activities of respondents and participating in their conversations.
Participants are not necessarily aware of the on-going research activity.
During individual and semi-structured interviews a researcher takes a respondent
through predetermined issues and topics with a certain freedom, not necessarily
following a rigid structure. In contrast to the previous method, respondents know
that they are being interviewed, which might influence their answers.
communication lasting over a prolonged period of time. According to Mack et al.
(2005), an in-depth interview possesses a significant advantage as compared to a
structured interview because it provides for the elicitation of multi-contextual data.
Whereas data obtained from a structured interview provides for statistical analysis
(especially when there is a significant number of such interviews with standardized
answers carried out), in-depth interview allows better understanding of the
subject’s intrinsic motivations, attitudes and other behavioral traits, as well as
enables the researcher to immerse into the expert view. A disadvantage of the indepth interview is that it is prone to subjective interpretation of information by the
interviewee, and requires thorough preparation of the interviewer, as well as his or
her expertise in communication skills.
According to Cooper and Schindler (2006), in-depth interviews can be classified
into several subtypes. For instance, cultural interviews are conducted with the
reference by the respondent to his or her knowledge of a culture, and is used for
determination, e.g., of how an object or a notion is perceived in that culture.
Critical incident technique studies and evaluates processes, events and their
preconditions and reasons through participants’ description of what has led to a
certain event, what actions were undertaken, etc. In an ethnographic study, the
interviewer and the respondent are engaged in collaboration in the field, and are
going through an unstructured interview. A grounded theory approach requires
adjustment of each next segment of interview to the results of the previous segment
in order to formulate assumptions or theoretical framework for further data
Focus group technique is a group technique. Respondents, from six to ten,
participate in a group discussion. According to Mack et al. (2005), focus group
research is conducted when it is important to elicit information on typical attitudes,
beliefs, preferences, etc. of a certain culturally united group. In this context culture
refers to a very broad range of notions, including national, professional, local, and
other types of communities. To conduct a focus group, the researcher selects the
necessary sample according to the criteria defining the culture (age, gender,
profession, education level, etc.) and then conducts the procedure of a group
interview. An important trait of the focus group is that the participants know
beforehand, what is the topic of the interview and are aware of the intention of the
researcher to get the participants involved in discussions not only with her or him,
but primarily with each other (Saunders et al., 2009).
184.108.40.206. Case study
A case study, according to Cooper and Schindler (2006), is a combination of several
qualitative methods. Sometimes it is also referred to as case history. As stated by Flick (2006),
the aim of case studies is to precisely describe or reconstruct a case, the subject of which can be
persons, social communities, organizations, institutions, etc. Sapsford and Jupp (2006) note that
selection of cases is often carried out in such a way so as to maximize or minimize the
differences which are presupposed to be theoretically important. Minimization of differences
allows clarifying detailed features of a theoretical category. Maximization of differences, on the
other hand, enables establishment of a range of particular set of categories. Fisher (2007) points
out that case study methodology enables the researcher ‘to focus on interrelationships between
all the factors’ (p. 59). Yin (1994, cited in Fisher, 2007) lists the following features of a case
It investigates a contemporary phenomenon in the real-life context;
It is carried out at a single location but has multiple variables;
It implements a number of research methods and can combine both qualitative
material and quantitative data;
A theoretical proposition is commonly developed prior to the study in order to
arrange data collection.
2.1.3. Questions: general considerations, advantages and disadvantages
Interviews and case studies, as well as questionnaires and surveys, which will be discussed
further on, implement questioning; therefore, it is feasible to discuss questions’ categories and
structure, as well as advantages and disadvantages of questioning for research process.
Cooper and Schindler (2006) note that generally all questions can be classified into three
categories: administrative, classification, and target questions. Administrative questions serve the
purpose of participant and interviews identification, as well as location and conditions definition.
Classification questions are used to group participants’ answers by socio-demographic criteria in
order to locate and study any possible patterns. Target questions contain the investigative
elements of a given research and are normally grouped by topic. Target questions may be put into
two sub-categories: structured, when a respondent is given a strict set of answers, or
unstructured, when the answer is not limited and a respondent uses his or her own words. A
different term for such classification is closed questions vs. open-ended questions. Lancaster
(2005) also uses the term pre-coded question as the synonym for closed questions and notes that
this type of questions is used most often because it generates the data which is easier to analyze.
Major issues related to questioning are question content (including necessity, objectivity,
precision, background knowledge, etc.), question wording (including appropriate vocabulary,
frame of reference, biased wording, and adequate alternatives), and response strategy choice
(including objective of the study, level of information, and communication skill). As for
advantages and disadvantages, these are represented below in the Table 2 below.
Table 2 Advantages and disadvantages of questioning
Depth and complexity of data: provides access to complex
understanding of data.
Flexibility: a researcher can easily adapt the line of questioning
according to the research environment.
Simplicity: easy to carry out and normally don’t require complicated
Feedback/validity: enables quick feedback and validation.
Personal/motivating: allows for establishment of personal connection
and gratification of the respondent.
Large numbers/wide coverage: effectively formulated questions in a
questionnaire potentially may provide a large research scope.
Speed: questioning is faster as compared to other methods of data
collection, such as experimentation or longitudinal observation.
Respondent bias/reaction: reaction of respondents to questions or the
person of the researcher may hinder the answers and provision of
Data collection and analysis: challenging through complicated process
of documentation of some response types.
Fear/antagonism: respondents may consciously distort data due to
negative feelings towards the researcher or the purposes of the
Lack of control/unreliability: subjective and causal reasons may
influence the process of data collection.
Limitations of questioning devices: some questioning methods don’t
provide the full available information.
Source: adapted into table form from Lancaster (2005)
2.1.4. Comparison of qualitative and quantitative research approaches
In order to summarize the discussion above, Table 3 demonstrates the main differences of
the qualitative and quantitative research.
Table 3 Qualitative vs. quantitative research
Focus of research
Understand and interpret
Describe, explain, and predict
In-depth understanding and Describe or predict; build and
Sample design and size
Small sample, nonprobability, Probability
Data type and preparation
pictorial Verbal descriptions, reduced to
descriptions, reduced to verbal numerical
following Computerized analysis
computer or human coding;
Insights and meaning
Deeper level of understanding; Limited by the opportunity to
and probe respondents and the
free-response quality of the original data
Source: adapted from Cooper and Schindler (2006, p. 199)
As seen from the Table 3, the qualitative and quantitative approaches pursue different aims
and may both have certain disadvantages. Therefore, it is feasible to implement mixed methods
in order to avoid some of the hindrances caused by limitations of any of the approaches. For this,
mixed methods can be implemented, which are discussed below.
2.1.5. Mixed methods procedures
In between the qualitative and quantitative methods are the mixed research methods.
According to Creswell (2009), there are six major types of mixed research methods strategies.
1) Sequential explanatory strategy: first phase is devoted to collection and analysis of
quantitative data, and the second qualitative phase is based on the results of initial
quantitative research. Such research design is intended to explain and analyze
quantitative results by deepening the analysis with qualitative data.
2) Sequential explanatory strategy: the first phase of the research is dedicated to
qualitative data collection, which is then complemented by quantitative data and
analysis that relies on the results of the qualitative phase. This strategy aims at usage of
quantitative data and results for enhanced interpretation of qualitative findings.
3) Sequential transformative strategy: similar to the first two strategies, this one is as well
two-staged. The first stage is shaped by a theoretical lens shaping the research process.
The two stages are different in their nature (i.e. either qualitative or quantitative) and
the first stage is always subject to theoretical determination.
4) Concurrent triangulation strategy: this approach requires the researcher to collect both
qualitative and quantitative data at the same time. Upon collection, data are entered
into a database and the researcher then analyses whether any confirmation,
disconfirmation, cross-validation, or corroboration can be observed through analysis.
5) Concurrent embedded strategy: the main difference of this strategy, as compared to the
concurrent triangulation strategy, is that a primary method and a secondary method are
identified (again, either qualitative or quantitative), and the secondary method is used
to support the dominant method.
6) Concurrent transformative strategy: in this approach, a theoretical perspective is
implemented, and both qualitative and quantitative data are collected simultaneously.
This strategy often embeds one method into the other and strives to converge
According to a different and simpler definition, a combination of qualitative and
quantitative methods in research is referred to as triangulation. Cooper and Schindler (2006)
believe that it can be used in order to enhance research quality. Generally, there are four
triangulation strategies implemented:
1. Simultaneous execution of qualitative and quantitative studies.
2. Ongoing qualitative study combined with multiple-wave quantitative studies
measuring temporal changes.
3. A qualitative study is followed by a quantitative study and a second qualitative
study clarifying previous findings.
4. A quantitative study is followed by a qualitative study expanding the findings.
An important advantage of triangulation is that it balances the approaches, which mutually
compensate their disadvantages.
Among others, a method used for triangulation is questionnaires, which is implemented for
surveys and interviews, Questionnaires allow obtaining both qualitative and quantitative data
through combination of different types of questions, various distribution channels, and execution
manners. This method is discussed below.
Lancaster (2005) cites Charlesworth’s and Morley’s (2000) questionnaire design and states
that a questionnaire should follow several guidelines, such as:
consist of simple and understandable questions, and avoid unclear questions;
avoid leading questions;
use a specific set of answers if applicable.
As mentioned above, the questions can either be closed or open-ended. Depth of questions
is classified into five levels that are awareness, open/free answer, specific issues, reasons, and
Another classification of questions is offered by Cooper and Schindler (2006) who classify
questions by response strategy. Under their classification, questions can be free-response
questions (same as open-ended questions discussed above); dichotomous questions suggesting
polar or alternative responses; multiple-choice questions that are used for answer elicitation
when there’s more than two alternatives; checklists allowing multiple responses for a single
question; rating questions that require the respondents to place the answer on a verbal, numeric,
or graphic scale (for instance, on a Likert scale); and ranking questions which are used when the
order of alternatives is important and it is crucial to evaluate the influence of factors. These
response strategies are described in more detail in Table 4 below.
Table 4 Characteristics of response strategies
Type of scale
Usual number 2
Desired number 1
3 to 10
10 or fewer
10 or fewer
3 to 7
Order or Order
Source: Cooper and Schindler (2006, p. 374)
2.1.6. Data quality
An important consideration for any research process is the quality of gathered data.
Lancaster (2005) considers data quality to be the criteria for effective data, and lists the
Validity: the research method measures and describes what is intended to be
measured and described. The data is valid if the researcher gained knowledge on
the problem he or she is researching, and especially so if it was accessed to the full
Reliability: the same data collection approach should yield the same results in other
situations and if carried out by other researchers.
Generalizability: the extent to which the results of the research can be generalized
and applied to other situations. Ideas and theories generated under the given
conditions are applicable in a different setting.
Other dimensions that influence data quality and its effectiveness are sampling and
measurement errors, data recording, storage and retrieval procedures, and ways of preparation
for data gathering (Lancaster, 2005).
2.1.7. Summary of section 2.1.
In this part, the discussion was dedicated to the overview of existing research approaches
and methods. To summarize the overview, the main mentioned research methods are represented
in the Figure 8 below. Techniques selected for the conduction of empirical study are highlighted
Figure 8 Research Methods
Source: author’s generalization
2.2. Methodology of empirical study
For the purposes of the current study it is feasible to adopt the mixed approach. The method
used in the present is triangulation, according to Cooper’s and Schindler’s (2006) definition, and
it embodies two methods: structured interview and semi-structured interview. Both parts are
carried out simultaneously and pursue the same goal stated in chapter 1 above.
The flow of the empirical study involving the selected methods is described below. The
study is divided into two parts (sections 2.2.1. and 2.2.2.) in order to generate in-depth insights.
In the first part, an on-line structured interview is carried out to characterize the situation in the
small IT-enterprises in line with the theoretical background. In the second part, in-depth
interviews are executed in order to expand the findings of the first part.
The Figure 9 bellow illustrates the research design applied in the current study. As seen
from the illustration, the processes of knowledge management, creativity, and communication
practices are analyzed as separate elements, and then their mutual influences are investigated.
Figure 9 Research design
Source: own research
2.2.1. Part I - On-line structured interview
In order to present the relevant picture of the current situation in relation to the knowledge
management, communications and creativity issues within the IT industry and its chosen
representatives, a several-foci data gathering process is to be carried out for future analysis with
the help of the on-line structured interview methodology developed by the author of the present
research based on previous theoretical considerations.
This part of the research is organized in four sub-parts in a form of an online-based
interview and consists of 67 questions. Out of those, 5 questions are open-ended, 4 are multiple
choice questions, and 59 require the respondents to agree or disagree with a statement
concerning the company on a 5-point Likert scales ranging from completely agree to completely
The parts are: (1) general information about the company, including success criteria; (2)
knowledge management processes intensity scale; (3) organizational-personal creativity scale;
(4) interpersonal relations characteristics scale. For each part, a questionnaire is developed; the
analysis of the data collected is to provide information on the research gap. Part (1) requires both
open and close answers, and parts (2) – (4) are implementing the Likert scale.
(1) General information about the company
This part provides the basis for analysis of the companies and provides primary information
necessary to analyze the whole set of obtained data in relation to all 3 research questions
identified in chapter 1. It defines their fitness for analysis and belonging to the sample, and
serves the purposes of obtaining primary information. The eight questions characterize the ITenterprise from several points of view including general organizational practices and creativity
Additionally, the data from this part provides for insight generation regarding the
preconditions for knowledge management at a small IT-enterprise (questions 5 and 7).
The questions are as follows:
1) Name of organization, number of people in the team.
2) Number of projects/applications launched.
3) Link to the project/app on the web.
4) How long did it take for an idea to be implemented from the moment it was generated?
5) How many ideas were there initially for your applications? How many changes has the
idea that later was brought to life undergone?
6) How many ideas are in work now?
7) Do you have a schedule on how many ideas/applications are to be developed?
8) What qualities of employees are the most important for the company? (No. of answers
‘creativity’, ‘artistic inclination’ and similar to be analyzed – author’s note, not included
on the online form.)
A specific measure is developed in order to estimate the relative creativity of a company
over a period of time, the time-creativity coefficient (TCC). TCC is calculated as the ratio of
change iterations that an idea has undergone until launch into the market to the time from idea
emergence to market launch. The formula for TCC calculation is show in the Figure 10 below.
𝑁 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒 𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠
𝑡 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑎 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑖𝑡𝑠 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑘𝑒𝑡 𝑙𝑎𝑢𝑛𝑐ℎ
Figure 10 Time-creativity coefficient
Source: own research
(2) KM processes intensity scale
This part of the methodology is intended for generation of data in order to answer the first
research question related to the general practices of KM in organizations selected.
According to Hicks (Hicks, 2000, cited in Ahani et al., 2013), knowledge management
processes can be described by the model composed of four sub processes. These processes are
signified as Create, Save, Distribute, and Use. ‘Create’ process means involvement in knowledge
sharing, creation of ideas, and establishment of cross-topic relations. ‘Save’ refers to the
possibility of information research and acquisition, both from external sources and colleagues,
and its storage and sharing. ‘Distribute’ implies development of a community where knowledge
workers exchange and share knowledge within their own group that they perceive as such.
Finally, ‘Use’ dimension refers to the most important step of KM which is application of
generated or accumulated knowledge and results and outputs of such application.
The questionnaire below refers to this approach in the context of economic school of KM
(knowledge is considered to be an organizational asset, see paragraph 1.1.1.) and includes 5
scales. The first four are, as described above, Create, Save, Distribute, and Use. Fifth scale Value
is added based upon consideration that knowledge workers do not always realize that their
knowledge is actually there and don't treat it as an asset (Gavrilova, Grigorev, 2005, see
paragraph 1.1.5.). The purpose of the questionnaire is to evaluate the intensity of KM processes
in the small and medium IT organizations on different inter-related scales and to determine
whether any of them is more explicit in the organizations studied. Additionally, it shows the
processes that need to be developed and allows to generate appropriate recommendations on how
to enhance the KM practices in order to enhance the effectiveness of the organization. The full
text of the scale’s questions is presented in Appendix 1.
The data generated by this questionnaire is used for future analysis with the consequent
parts of the questionnaire.
(3) Organizational-personal creativity scale
This part of the methodology is intended to gather data to answer the first part of the second
research question related to the general creativity practices in organizations selected.
The organizational-personal creativity scale questionnaire was developed on the basis of
two questionnaire sets used in scientific research. The first was developed by Kumar et al.
(Kumar et al., 1997) in order to characterize creativity styles of an individual. The second by
Rahimi et al. (Rahimi et al., 2011) was used in order to evaluate personal creativity of knowledge
workers. Combining and revising both questionnaires and adding own dimensions previously not
considered (3, 6, 14) in the questionnaire below, we pertain to evaluate a worker’s creativity and
his/her creative environment both judging by direct and indirect criteria.
The questionnaire evaluates objective (questions 3-6, 10, 13, 17, 18, 20) and subjective
(questions 1, 2, 7-9, 12, 18, 19, 21) indices of individual creativity and includes a control scale
for organizational creative environment (questions 11 and 16) previously characterized by part
(1). The full text of the scale’s questions is presented in the Appendix 1.
Analysis of the data generated allows characterizing the relative level of organization’s and
(4) Interpersonal relations characteristics scale
This part of the methodology pertains to generate data to answer the second part of the
second research question related to the general communication practices in organizations
Interpersonal communications within a company, as we stated in the literature review in
previous chapter (Hola, 2012; Overall, 2015, Peng et al., 2015, paragraphs 1.3.2., 1.3.3., 1.4.3.),
are important for team creativity and knowledge management processes of an organization.
Relating to the sociometric framework of Jacob Moreno (Sociometria, n.d.) and considering
important factors mentioned in contemporary scientific research, the current questionnaire was
developed by the author of present research. The aim of the questionnaire is to characterize the
relations within the organization both in terms of group and individual perception and to evaluate
it on a relative scale. Communicative and social processes in this scale are evaluated from two
perspectives – individual (questions 4, 10-15) and organizational (questions 1-3, 5-9). Such
distinction allows making a conclusion about the social dynamics of a small IT-enterprise and
generating further insights. The full text of the scale’s questions is presented in the Appendix 1.
2.2.2. Part II – In-depth interview
The second part of the research is dedicated to elicitation of information by means of an indepth interview. This interview is based on the same theoretical considerations as the formalized
interview above, and consists of 6 main open-ended questions, of which some have subquestions. The interview questions are formulated so as to allow for a flowing discussion of
organizational issues and not limit the respondents to expected answers or not to give them hints.
The interview script is presented below.
In-depth interview questions
1) What is your enterprise doing? How can you characterize your activities in terms of what
is your product and how you make it?
2) How is project/product work organized? Explain in detail, if there are any procedures or
a. How is knowledge stored? Is it evaluated?
b. What creative practices are implemented and how?
3) Describe a typical communicative situation for your enterprise. How do employees
communicate with each other?
4) Would you say there’s a hierarchy in your organization? If so, how does it affect your
activities? If there’s no hierarchy, would you say that this affects your activities in any
way and how?
5) What is, to your opinion, your enterprise’s main asset?
a. Is knowledge considered an asset?
b. Is creativity considered an asset?
c. Is the communicative structure considered an asset?
6) Do you make any efforts regarding knowledge management and creativity management?
If so, how and why? If no, why? What do you think is needed for your company to
implement any managerial practices in this regard?
Further on, the generated data is analyzed through definition of common traits and answers.
The final step of the research is the analytical-synthetic process which implies simultaneous
analysis of the findings from steps one and two in order to generate insights and gain general
understanding of how knowledge management practices, communication and creativity are
related to effectiveness of organizations.
Summary of chapter 2
Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive overview of existing methods applied for business
research. The methods are categorized as qualitative, quantitative, and mixed, and are discussed
in more detail.
The methods selected for the current study are qualitative and quantitative methods
perpetuated by means of an on-line structured interview and a mediated and face-to-face indepth. The on-line interview consists of 68 questions of different arrangement and is intended to
provide insights in relation to all 3 research questions. The in-depth interview consists of 6 main
open-ended questions and is as well intended for elicitation of information related to all research
questions. The proposed research framework is presented in the Figure 9 in the preface of section
CHAPTER III. OBSERVED FACTORS IN SMALL IT-ENTERPRISES
In this chapter we discuss the actual process of data gathering, and provide the obtained
results. The results are consequently discussed, and insights are generated along with
recommendations for practitioners. Limitations of the current research and further research areas
are indicated. The structure of chapter 3 is presented in the Figure 11 below.
Figure 11 Structure of chapter 3
Source: own research
3.1. Data gathering process: sample and channels
The first part of the data was gathered by means of an electronic on-line interview form
distributed to representatives of small and medium IT enterprises. The survey was hosted at the
Google Forms facilities.
The link to the interview was distributed in two ways: directly to the leaders and
employees of IT-enterprises and indirectly via networks of incubators, start-up parks, research
institutions, and influential IT-community members. Generally, the search for start-up
representatives was conducted in two steps: first, relevant news in the media was scanned, and
then the representatives were found in the social networks or through official web-sites and
messaged directly. The Table 5 below shows the distribution numbers over each channel.
Table 5 Requests sent per channel
No. of requests sent
VKontakte social network, direct distribution (DD)
VKontakte social network, indirect distribution (IDD)
Facebook social network, DD
Facebook social network, IDD
Emails to business owners, DD
Emails to business incubators, startup parks, and academic
Source: own research
The questionnaire distribution process took place from March 20th to April 18th, 2016.
The distribution yielded 31 received questionnaires; therefore, the response rate was
27.4%. Out of those, 30 were fully completed and valid for analysis.
The second part of data gathering took part from April 25th, 2016 to May 11th, 2016. The
participants of the in-depth interviews were contacted through the author’s personal network and
from the pool of participants of the on-line formalized interview among those who indicated
further interest in the research. The in-depth interviews were carried out with the total of 8
respondents who represented 4 IT-enterprises. The interviews were conducted face-to-face (2
instances), Skype (5 instances), and What’s App (1 instance). Representatives from the same
organizations were interviewed separately so as to provide a more accurate representation and
avoid convergence to the same point of view or bias.
3.2. Results of empirical study: considerations and analysis
The 30 small IT-enterprises, also referred to as companies, are studied in several aspects.
This section is divided into two sub-parts: a general overview in section 3.2.1. is provided and
then followed by detailed study of the three factors previously identified in research questions in
chapter 1 and following the logic of the research methodology in chapter 2. Preliminary findings
are shortly discussed after each section.
3.2.1. General overview
220.127.116.11. Sample description
Tables and figures below provide a descriptive overview of the sample:
Figure 12 Distribution of companies by employee number.
Figure 13 Number of companies by products launched.
Figure 14 Distribution of companies by ideas currently under development.
Figure 15 Percentage of companies having a plan for ideas to be developed.
Figure 12 Distribution of companies by employee number
Source: own research
Figure 13 Number of companies by products launched
Source: own research
Figure 13 Distribution of companies by ideas currently under development
Source: own research
Figure 14 Percentage of companies having a plan for ideas to be developed.
Source: own research
As seen from the figures above, a typical sample representative is a company employing
three to five people (60% of sample) that have launched between one and three products (87% of
sample). These companies are most likely working on development of one to three ideas (70% of
sample), and do not have a plan that regulates their creative endeavors (90% of sample).
18.104.22.168. Time-related creativity measure: time-creativity coefficient (TCC)
TCC is a measure that shows the relationship between the time spent on development of a
product and the number of iterations an idea had undergone before the product was launched in
the market. A TCC belonging to the interval [0.25; 0.5] signifies that a company had spent a
comparatively long time for implementation of a comparatively low number of enhancing
changes. A TCC belonging to the interval (0.5; 4] signifies that a company had been
comparatively active in introducing changes over a period of time given, and the higher the
number, the more iterations were undertaken in a shorter period of time. TCC does not take
difficulty and complexity of iterations into account and supposes that the idea itself (as in
prototype and not the ready product itself) is being changed, and as sampled companies are
assumed to work on projects similar in their difficulty, TCC can be considered an indirect
measure of creativity. Figure 15 below represents the distribution of TCC values in the sample.
Figure 14 TCC values in the sample.
Source: own research
As seen from the Figure 14, the majority of the sample has scored a TCC equal to 0.5 and
1, followed by a TCC=2. Consistent with the information above it can be concluded that about
56% are rather fast in developing and implementing changes, and the remaining 44% require
more time investments. The average TCC value is TCC=1.4.
22.214.171.124. Indirect KM and creativity measures
As defined in the research design, the general information section of the questionnaire
included two questions related to pre-conditions for knowledge management in the
organizations. Data generated by question 7 ‘Ideas plan’ was already analyzed above, and now
the results related to the output of question 8 ‘Employee qualities’ are investigated.
The Table 6 below shows the number of occurrences of personal traits that are considered
to be the ones of particular importance to the organizations. The traits marked in bold among the
top ones are considered to be preconditions for organizational creativity, which allows
concluding that creativity of an employee, although not always explicitly recognized as a single
personality trait, is important for organizational development, and that there’s an underlying need
for the companies in the sector to be creative.
Additionally, analysis of all the traits mentioned by respondents shows that out of 21
adjectives mentioned, 6 are meaningfully connected to creativity (amounts to 25%, marked with
i in the table), 5 – to communications and personal relations (amounts to 23%, marked with com
in the table), and 1 – indirectly to knowledge management practices (marked with km in the
Table 6 Frequency of personal traits occurrence.
Striving to develop i
Honest (frank) com
Open to new i
Project management skills km
Time management skills
Source: own research
3.2.2. Knowledge management, creativity and communication practices review
126.96.36.199. Knowledge management practices analysis
This section is dedicated to the analysis of the knowledge management intensity scale
results and the results of the in-depth interview questions related to the same issues in order to
answer the first research question (‘To what extent are the KM-intensive vs. KM-non-intensive
practices are applied in the organizations studied?).
188.8.131.52.1. Direct knowledge management measures – On-line interview analysis
This subsection analyzes the results of the on-line structured interview.
In order to analyze the companies’ situation more effectively, the statements’ evaluation
was encoded on a scale from 1 to 5, as mentioned above. Thus, ‘completely disagree’ was
encoded as a ‘1’, ‘partially disagree’ – 2, ‘neither agree nor disagree’ – 3, ‘partially agree’ – ‘4’,
and ‘completely agree’ – 5. Hence, the data in tables below shows the inclinations of companies
and their self-evaluation towards the intensity of processes given. For our analysis it means that
both generalizing and individual approach for analysis can be implemented: on one hand, a
conclusion can be made in verbal terms, and on the other hand, an average attitude is calculable
due to the codification.
The Table 7 below represents the average score of each enterprise by scale, total average
score per completed interview, and average values for the sample for each scale and in total.
Table 7 Knowledge management processes intensity scales scores
Average Score by
Source: own research
As the data from the Table 7 above shows, the overall level of knowledge management
practices in the sample cannot be described as sufficiently high. Companies’ overall scores range
from the lowest score of 1.96 to the highest score of 4.84, and the average overall score is below
4, which means that to a large extent knowledge management practices are not widely spread or
are paid enough attention.
Judging from the average points by scale, the most developed knowledge management
practices are those related to creation of knowledge, according to the average score of ‘Create’
scale. The least developed knowledge management practices are the ones related to explicit and
conscious treatment of knowledge as an asset to the company and its preservation for future use,
as seen from the scores in the ‘Save’ column. Generally, the results of the survey show that the
most developed practices are the ones that are directly related to the day-to-day activities of the
knowledge intensive companies – that is, scores for ‘Create’, ‘Distribute’ and ‘Use’ are showing
higher level of development of the corresponding knowledge management practices; for the
‘Save’ and ‘Value’ scales, however, the scores signify the need for further improvement of
knowledge management practices in those areas and enhancement of practices. For instance, the
low ‘Save’ score suggest that companies might need to look into knowledge storage systems
implementation, and the low score for ‘Value’ suggest adoption of the approach uniting the
conscious mindset and attitude towards knowledge as a potential source for competitive
Interestingly enough, a discrepancy between the scores of ‘Create’ and ‘Value’ amounting
to nearly one relative point suggests that although knowledge creation is perceived as an
important and frequent activity at the company, it is not necessarily considered to be a way to
perpetuate the development of the company. In other words, although the companies may feel the
need to create knowledge to survive in the market, they do not necessarily link knowledge
creation to value creation of the company, which although could be beneficial for purposeful
knowledge workers’ attraction, knowledge sharing and storage. This notion relates to the low
score of ‘Save’ scale and leads to a conclusion that unless knowledge is valued as an asset, it is
unlikely to be stored for future purposes.
To sum up, the Figure 15 illustrates the overall level of knowledge management practices
intensity across the companies studied per scale, according to the data of Table 7 above.
Figure 15 KM practices intensity across companies
Source: own research
More detailed analysis of the on-line interview results allows precise identification of the
most problematic issues in the companies. Table 8 below shows the questions from the
knowledge management processes intensity scale questionnaire that have scored less than 3.5
points on average:
Table 8 Problematic issues of knowledge management processes
Source: own research
We have an evaluation and ranking scheme for new ideas.
We quantitatively measure our intellectual capital.
We can quantitatively measure the results of knowledge
Training events are taking place.
We can quantitatively measure the results of idea generation.
Workers who generate more original ideas are valued more (get
We have an internal communications code that we follow.
We developed a way to find our way around our information
We encourage workers to think how their activities outside of
work can help our organization.
We have a regulated ideas and information storage system
Such analysis supports the notion that the ‘Value’ KM processes are among the least
developed in the companies: in the ranking of lowest scores, this scale occurs 4 times out of 10,
closely followed by ‘Save’ with three occurrences, which is consistent with considerations
above. As can be seen, companies are not implementing knowledge evaluation and sharing
schemes and practices (2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.3), are not particularly apt at estimating and evaluating
their intangible resources (4.3, 5.3, 5.4), and do not necessarily treat their employees in a way to
boost their knowledge sharing and generating motivation (5.1, 5.2) in an organized environment
At the same time, the highest scores were accumulated by the questions belonging to the
‘Create’, ‘Save’, and ‘Distribute’ scales, which is also consistent with the general analysis
outtakes above. The Table 9 below shows the best developed knowledge management practices
in the organizations studied highlighting the questions that have scored more than 4.5 points.
Table 9 Highly developed issues of knowledge management processes
It's typical for us to discuss news related to our work.
We have a special platform (a group in a social network, a chat,
a cloud storage, etc.) to share information and ideas.
All team members know each other and know how to contact
each other if some information is needed.
Source: own research
As can be concluded from the table, the most developed knowledge management practices
are the ones that are related to interpersonal relations and communications (1.3, 2.1) and are
inherently typical for an IT-company and its implementation of communicative technologies
The analysis of the knowledge management processes intensity scales results has shown
that the most developed practices are the ones that are naturally implied by the process of
creative work; the ones that need more attention in order to sustain potential development are
those that require special managerial efforts. Therefore, areas for improvement of a typical small
IT-organization can be highlighted (marked in italic) in the following scheme of scales influence
on each other (Figure 16): these are the implementation of supportive ‘Save’ and ‘Value’
practices reinforcing the ‘Create’, ‘Distribute’, and ‘Use’ KM-practices within the organization:
Figure 16 Areas for KM-practices improvement
Source: own research
184.108.40.206.2. Knowledge management – In-depth interview analysis
In this section we discuss the results of the interviews and information revealed through
discussion of knowledge management practices (questions 2, 2a, 5, 5a, 6).
Working process and knowledge creation and distribution: According to the experiences of
the interviewees, their working process can be characterized as a group work with diffused or
partially diffused responsibilities, depending on the level of task complexity and required skills.
In cases of idea, prototyping or concept testing companies tend to work closer as compared to
periods of precise elaboration and implementation of tasks. For instance, representatives of
companies mentioned that “we’ve been talking a lot and looking through a lot of information
when we were thinking of even starting, and then when we did begin it was less, just doing our
things”. Similar experiences were reported by other participants who mentioned a higher level of
involvement in knowledge sharing processes at initial stages. An observed tendency was that the
participants only referred to information and knowledge as a source of ideas generation and
enhancement, and the knowledge work predominantly took place before the development of the
product. An interviewee mentioned that once the distribution of tasks became clear for their
project, they “were just talking about unrelated things in our chat as well and it became
Knowledge use and saving: Some (3 instances) of the participants of the interviews noted
that they used cloud services or social media for storage and exchange of information, such as
Google Drive, Dropbox, and Telegram, but to the most part, the interviewees considered
themselves to be the “storing units” – for instance, “We don’t really store anything – I mean, we
have it in our heads or in chat, and that’s it.”
None of the interviewed participants mentioned evaluation of stored information, as
opposed to evaluation of ideas. At the same time, participants noted that they do not engage in
learning activities as a part of their jobs, but sometimes do read professional literature or share
links with each other.
Knowledge valuation: Although implicitly participants considered their knowledge an
asset (“Well we couldn’t do anything we wanted unless we knew how to code”, “I wanted to do
this myself and so I also knew how to do it and could”), they did not explicitly make efforts to
evaluate or preserve it.
The analysis of the in-depth interviews supports the findings of the on-line structured
interview: the processes that are directly related to the development and creation of the product
are more intensive than those related to preservation and valuation of knowledge. Participants
tend to estimate themselves and their memory as sufficient instrument for knowledge saving, and
the use of information storage systems is quite low.
220.127.116.11.3. Knowledge management processes summary
The analysis of knowledge management processes shows that knowledge management
practices in the companies studied have room for further development and enhancement.
Practices directly related to active processes of creation and development of products are more
explicit than those related to treatment of knowledge as an asset. These practices can be
enhanced if special efforts are undertaken.
18.104.22.168. Creativity practices analysis
This section is dedicated to the analysis of the creativity scale results obtained from the online structured interview (its personal-organizational creativity scale part) and the insights from
the in-depth interviews. The analysis is carried out in order to answer the first part of the second
research question (‘What are the general features of creativity […] practices in the organizations
22.214.171.124.1. Direct creativity measures
Presented in the Table 10 below are the primary results of creativity-related analysis. The
same codification approach was implemented as in the case with the knowledge management
processes intensity scale. The table shows the scores on the subjective, objective and control
creativity scales, the averages per company, per scale, and in total.
Table 10 Organizational-personal creativity scale scores
Average by scale
Source: own research
Subjective scale AVG
The table shows that the creativity scores are generally higher than the knowledge
management practices’ scores. The difference in points on different scales is also rather low, and
only one company had scored less than 3.5 points, which means in general the companies’
creativity level can be characterized as rather high (or better said, perceived by the companies
themselves as rather high).
At the same time, the nature of the creativity-related scores implies more subjectivity in
assessment. For instance, the lowest average score question-wise in this scale is 3.33 (confer to
the lowest of 2.64 in the KM-scales in Table 7 above), and question 1 ‘I consider myself a
creative person’ has scored an average of 4.4 with 15 respondents completely agreeing with the
notion (5 points) and 13 respondents strongly agreeing (4 points) – in other words, 93.3% of the
sampled companies’ representatives think of themselves as creative. Such behavior is typical for
human self-esteem (DeAngelis, 2003) and therefore should be confirmed by indirect questions as
it was done with the control and objective scales and additional questions estimating
preconditions for creativity.
The other reason for high creativity scores would be the real necessity for the employees of
IT-organizations to be creative in order to create value in the forms of their products, which also
explains the relatively higher creativity scores as compared to knowledge management scores –
as emphasized by various authors in the literature review, competitive advantage is sustained
through creative endeavors, therefore, creative practices should initially be more developed than
knowledge management practices.
As can be seen, the general creativity level of organizations is rather high; however, some
problematic areas can be identified. The Table 11 below shows the questions that have scored
less than 4 points on average.
Table 11 Problematic creativity areas
Source: own research
I like playing with ideas rather than leap on the first one when
I try solving a problem.
New ideas often come to me from combination of old ideas.
I don’t reject non-working ideas but try to change them in a
way for them to be useful.
I get new ideas more often than my colleagues.
I practice in solving creative tasks.
The questions point out the lack of specific creative skills or behaviors: respondents are not
implementing creativity enhancing practices and are not making special efforts to develop
creativity (3, 6, 10), creative environment is not likely to be stimulating in the organization and
within its employee network (2), and perpetuation of idea development and design thinking is
not likely to be implemented in the sampled IT-enterprises (21).
At the same time, an inclination towards establishment of a creative environment can be
observed. The highest-scoring questions 15 ‘I like working in a creative team’ and 4 ‘I often think
how to make my work better’ have both yielded a 4.67 score which means that there is a potential
for development of enhanced creative practices in the sample and that such development may be
of high value to the organizations. The two subsequent questions 11 ‘I like learning new’ and 18
‘I like finding connections between different ideas and phenomena’, both scoring 4.33 points also
support the notion of existing precondition for the possible successful implementation of
creativity development practices.
Generally speaking, the analysis of the personal-organizational creativity scale suggests that
the companies are relatively positioned at a rather high creativity level, but there is a potential to
become even more creative if special attention is paid to creativity development activities. This
notion is illustrated in the Figure 17 below.
Figure 17 Potential creativity development directions.
Source: own research
126.96.36.199.2. Creativity – In-depth interview analysis
In this section we discuss the results of the interviews and information revealed through
discussion of creativity practices (questions 2, 2b, 5, 5b, 6).
Working process and creativity practices: According to the results of the in-depth
interviews, creativity is embedded into the working process of the small IT-enterprises during
the whole time of work. As one of the interviewees mentioned, “we need to not only think of
something cool to sell, but also to think later how we can do it better” – creativity is required at
different stages of product work and it is not limited to generation of ideas for products, but as
well involves processes enhancements. At the same time, the representatives did not name any
creative practices they would purposefully implement in the working process, which leads to a
conclusion that none such practices and actions are explicitly undertaken.
Creativity as an asset and managerial efforts: Most of the participants referred to
themselves as creative individuals, sustaining the results of the on-line structured interview. In
justifying such notions, the participants emphasized their creative contribution (e.g., idea of the
product, or ideas for enhancement). A commonly expressed opinion (6 instances) was that
without creativity organizations would not be able to function (“we would make no sense”, “the
whole point of doing this was making something new”, “cool thing about what we do is that we
are first at this”, etc.). Therefore, it can be concluded that creativity, if not explicitly, is
considered to be an asset. As for managerial efforts related to creativity, the respondents found it
difficult to establish whether there were any efforts undertaken in order for themselves to
enhance creativity, and some (2 instances) even found that such efforts would not be effective as,
to their opinion, “creativity is either there, or not” and “you can’t teach someone be creative”.
In general, analysis devoted to creativity issues has revealed similar results to the
structured on-line interview and additionally identified the existing bias towards creativity
management. One of the reasons for such bias would be psychological unwillingness to admit
one’s lower than wanted level of creativity, and another possible reason is the lack of awareness
on existing creativity instruments.
188.8.131.52.3. Creativity practices summary
The analysis of the creativity-related issues shows that the companies consider themselves
to be rather creative and additionally consider that level of creativity sufficient. Creativity
management practices are an unlikely occurrence in the small IT-enterprises studied.
184.108.40.206. Communicative practices analysis
In this section, the analysis relates to the second part of the second research question (‘What
are the general features of […] communication practices in the organizations studied?’) and
deals with the results obtained from the on-line structured interview from the interpersonal
relations characteristics scale and the insights from the in-depth interviews.
220.127.116.11.1. Direct communication and personal relation measures
Scores in accordance with the fourth part of the questionnaire, the interpersonal relations
characteristics scale, are shown in the Table 12 below. Both the individual and organizational
aspects of communicative and interpersonal practices are addressed and the average scores on
each of the scales are provided along with the cumulative average score. Additionally, average
scores per sub-scales and per companies’ sample are calculated.
Table 12 Interpersonal relations characteristics scale scores
Average by scale
Source: own research
As seen from the Table 12 above, general communicative and interpersonal environments in
the companies tend to be rather developed. As the questionnaire was composed in such a way
that factors positively influencing communicative processes would be taken into account, it can
be concluded that most companies (60% of the sampled companies scoring ≥4 points on the
general average) tend to maintain a beneficial communicative environment and can be described
as communities where conflict levels are low and good relationships are dominant.
At the same time, the average scores by scale show that individual aspect is in a better state
than the organizational aspect of communicative practices. One of the possible reasons for such
difference would be the lack of organized relationship structure in the organization, or
appropriate for creative environments hierarchy (question 1 ‘There’s a distinct agreed hierarchy
in our organization’ only yielded 2.56 points on average, and at the same time the average score
for question 2 ‘Communication style of the colleagues in our organization is democratic’ is 4.12)
The top-3 scores (4 questions) on the interpersonal relations characteristics scale are
presented in the Table 13 below.
Table 13 Most evident traits of interpersonal relations characteristics
There are no evident outsiders among colleagues.
Friendly relationships are prevalent within the company.
It’s usual to ask for help or advice in our company.
Relationships within the company can’t be characterized
Source: own research
As Table 13 shows, the interpersonal climate in the organizations of the sample can be
described as beneficial for relationships (6, 7, 10), and can also serve as the basis for
enhancement of knowledge management practices and creativity practices due to the existing
preconditions for knowledge sharing (11).
In general, the state of communicative processes in the organizations sampled can be
described by the following diagram in Figure 18: employees (En) are mostly connected to each
other with a varying degree of connections strength, and no apparent organizational
communication structure is present.
Figure 18 Generalized communicative structure of organizations: an example
Source: own research
18.104.22.168.2. Communications – In-depth interview analysis
In this section we discuss the results of the interviews and information revealed through
discussion of communicative practices (questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 5c).
Working process and communicative practices: As mentioned above, communicative
processes were most intensive during the initial stages of products development and ideas
generation. Communication, as noted by the participants, was both mediated and in person. The
respondents noted that although sometimes separated in time (that is, communication on the
same subject took place over a prolonged period of time), it could be rather intensive at the
periods of discussion, and the intensity was ebbing and flowing. At the periods of intensive
communication, as noted by the participants, information was shared much more actively (“We
were sending each other a lot of stuff and it took time, so we just decided to kind of summarize it
before sending”) than in the periods of individual work.
Communicative situations and structure: The responses of the in-depth interview sustain
the notion identified in the structured on-line interview – the companies tend to have an informal
structure and to maintain friendly relationships. As noted by several participants (3 instances),
communication was “friendly – we all know each other for a while and we’ve been working on
projects before, so nothing changed” and “rather chaotic – we somehow keep in touch in VK and
in Telegram but I don’t know what exactly we discuss where”. A problem identified in the
communicative processes was the lack of structure and consequently identified responsibility
areas – “it sometimes gets really difficult when everyone is friends with everyone and no one is
actually responsible, like when you know nothing will happen to you if you don’t do your stuff,
and it’s annoying”. None of the respondents mentioned having an agreed hierarchy in the
organization, but the founders (4 instances) tended to express dominant opinions about
themselves: “I invest a lot into my staff so before I place them on our team I make sure they fit
and are honest”, “I ask people to share their external plans with me – if I don’t know what other
projects they are involved in, I can’t plan their workload accordingly”, and similar.
Communications as an asset and managerial efforts: None of the respondents identified
communication patterns or environment as an asset of their company, but an inclination towards
value attribution to good relationships was noted. Two of the respondents described negative
experiences caused by tensions and conflicts in the organization, and three respondents
mentioned having a feeling of better work, satisfaction, and contribution of colleagues due to
communicative situations (for instance, “I would say I am rather creative but also I know my
colleagues can help, so I like it when we discuss”).
In general, in-depth interview provides an insight into the situation in small companies that
have a leader and suggests that friendly atmosphere is prevalent in the organizations; however, it
cannot always be considered an environment of overall equality. Although explicit need for a
communicative structure was only mentioned once, supporting notions (“I’m getting lost”, “You
need to remember what was said and why and when”) as well related to knowledge management
practices were mentioned.
22.214.171.124.3. Communications summary
The analysis of communicative practices in organizations studied via the in-depth and
structured online interview highlights the connection of communication practices to knowledge
management practices and creativity practices. A lack of hierarchy or structure in organizations is
observed, which sometimes may hinder communication, and at the same time, communicative
environment in the organizations can be characterized as positive.
3.2.3. Relation of creativity and communication practices to knowledge management
The following section is devoted to the answer to the third research question (‘What is the
relation between knowledge management, creativity and communication practices to each other
in the organizations studied?’). In order to analyze the findings in complex and generated
recommendations and practical implications, this section is devoted to the discussion of
connections between the knowledge management, creativity, and communication practices in the
organizations from the sample.
In order to establish whether there is a connection between the factors, the following steps
1) the data obtained from the on-line structured interview was compiled into the table
(Table 14 below) with average scores of codified results for each scale and for each
2) the codified results in the form of scores were graphically analyzed (Figures 19-22
The graphic analysis shows that there is an evident tendency and relation between the level
of creativity and communication practices development and knowledge management processes
intensity level, and a trend can be observed (Figure 19). This notion is as well supported when
the companies are ranked by knowledge management intensity level (Figure 20), by creative
practices level (Figure 21), and by communicative practices level (Figure 22): generally, the
higher one of the factors’ level, the higher are the others. Therefore, it can be said that there is the
relationship between knowledge management practices implementation in companies, and their
creativity management and communication practices, and this relationship can be characterized
as a positive one. However, in order to determine what exactly causes the enhancement in
practices, further research and analysis are required.
Table 14 Knowledge management, creativity, and communication codified scores per company
Source: own research
Figure 19 KM, creativity, and communication scales scores by company
Source: own research
Figure 20 Companies ranked by knowledge management intensity level
Source: own research
Figure 21 Companies ranked by creativity levels
Source: own research
Figure 22 Companies ranked by communications level
Source: own research
Some additional considerations to the relation of knowledge management, creativity and
communication practices can be found in the Appendix 2.
To sum up, it can be said that the connection between knowledge management practices,
creativity practices and communication practices exists in companies analyzed. Such results
support previous findings from research dedicated to mutual influence of KM, creativity and
communications (Chan et al., 2014; Perry-Smith, Manucci, in Shalley et. al, 2015; Phipps and
Prieto, 2012; Rahimi et al., 2011; Thierauf and Hoctor, 2006; Yan et al., 2013). In line with the
research design identified in Figure 9 in chapter 2, paragraph 2.2, the following Figure 23
represents the results of the present study:
Figure 23 Results of the study
Source: own research
3.3. Discussion of the results of the empirical study
This section identifies the managerial implications and provides recommendations for
practitioners. Significance, limitations and validation of the study are described, and areas for
future research are highlighted.
3.3.1. Managerial implications
The research was conducted on a sample of small IT-enterprises and lead to several
1) The observed relation between KM, creativity and communication practices
suggests development directions for small IT-enterprises that are seeking to improve
any of those dimensions within the company. For instance, a small IT-enterprise
willing to improve creativity of its employees could engage in knowledge
management developing activities. Another instance would be implementation of
creativity enhancing techniques in order to consequently enhance knowledge
management practices application.
2) The much adored friendly and relaxed communicative style does not necessarily
imply higher creativity of the company. Although considered to be important for
creative process, in the light of the present research it cannot be identified as the
necessary condition for creativity. Therefore, ubiquitous equality and ‘friendship’
should not be taken as the necessary pre-condition for any IT-establishment.
3) Self-evaluation of creativity by the employees or potential employees should not be
taken as a single measure of creativity. In order for a company to make sure it is
hiring a truly creative individual, a set of test or interviews that do not directly ask
the applicant to evaluate his or her creative aptitudes should be implemented. For
instance, such set could include a number of questions related to the applicant’s
habits and daily practices that are considered to be related to creativity by
researcher, like those that were included in the personal-organizational creativity
scale in the present research.
In line with the results of the present research, the following recommendations can be
suggested for implementation in the small-scale IT-enterprises:
1) Introduction of a certain hierarchy. The study of communicative practices has shown
that relationships are not quite organized in the startups; at the same time, organized
structure would increase the overall score on the communications scale which is
correlated to the KM and creativity scales. Therefore, it can be concluded that
implementation of a certain pre-agreed communication structure with pre-defined roles
and responsibility areas would benefit the companies.
2) Introduction of a search system. One of the factors affecting the TCC could be the level
difficulty of information search and stored information access. As most of the companies
sampled do not have a navigation system that enables them to navigate their knowledge
storage facilities easier, a development and implementation of such organizing element
can be suggested.
3) Introduction of an ideas scorecard system and time regulatory instruments.
Implementation of the ideas register, or scorecard system, can be advised along with the
time constraints for development of products to the companies where communication
levels are not too high. The primary implementation of such scorecards would be ideas
storage and unification of layout for the ease of access. Additionally, such system would
enhance communicative processes making them easier available, and save time as an
asset. Moreover, some frameworks like the Innovation Scorecard™ (The Innovation
Scorecard, n.d.) or Ideas Management Scorecard (Ideas Management Scorecard, n.d.)
can be implemented for the purposes of idea evaluation and estimation of its potential.
The market as well offers a variety of ideas management software; however the
feasibility of implementation of such systems in small-scale enterprises is questionable.
4) Applicable trainings. The majority of the companies do not engage in any type of
trainings. As identified above, the higher the level of KM development practices, the
higher is the level of creativity as well. Therefore, KM training might enhance the level
of creativity in organizations. An example of applicable training program would be an
all-company knowledge systematization training, or introduction to design-thinking
5) Self-development ideas. Finally, the research shows that the majority of respondents
evaluate themselves as creative individuals. At the same time, not everyone is practicing
creative problem solving, and the majority is not engaged in purposeful creative work
processes (such as idea alterations and mix). Therefore, the belief can be rather
misleading and hinder startup employees in their further development. To avoid such
stagnation, self-development of employees should be encouraged highly encouraged. To
start with, companies could implement reviews of relevant articles or books and share
them with employees, as well as encourage them to share their experiences.
3.3.3. Significance and applicability of the current research
In the in-depth interviews the notion that startups as small IT-enterprises are in need of
regulatory instruments for communication and knowledge management practices was confirmed.
For instance, one of the comments of a company founder was “It gets really hard sometimes
when everyone is kind of a friend and you can’t really make them do everything”. Others
mentioned importance of knowledge systematization (“we have a Dropbox, but we hardly are
looking there ever”). Therefore, the study’s significance is that it provides an overview of
problematic zones and suggests actions for improvement.
On the other hand, the study proposes a new predictive instrument that can be applied to
evaluate a company’s potential regardless of the monetary investments. For future researchers it
provides an analytical framework and a comprehensive methodology with a potential not only
for mostly qualitative research as in the present line of work, but as well extensive quantitative
As the number of small IT-enterprises is increasing in the modern knowledge economy, the
study can be applied by potential entrepreneurs and start-up members as a decision supporting
tool as it provides managerial insights and analyzes experience of companies in the sector.
There are several limitations affecting the present study.
1) The scope of the study is restricted to a rather limited amount of companies.
Different results might have been obtained should the study have dealt with an
increased number of IT-enterprises.
2) The study is of a qualitative nature in the first place; therefore, some of the
evaluations may have been, purposefully or not, distorted by the participants.
3) The participants of the study for the most part were limited to a 1:1 enterprise ratio,
that is, only one representative took part in the on-line interview. An increased
number of participants from one and the same organization would provide a broader
picture and enable an in-depth analysis by quantitative means.
4) With the development of new technologies, such as the artificial intellect and chat
bots, that might potentially disrupt companies engaged in development and delivery
of IT-products, the present study may become obsolete after a period of time.
Alternatively, the technological startup bubble, similarly to the .com bubble, may
burst, undermining this study’s applicability.
3.3.5. Validation of the results
The results and implications of the study were found to be feasible by the experts who have
participated in the interviews, and non-participating members of the IT-community, contacted
via the Facebook ‘Startup Hub’ community. The study results were also confirmed by one of the
members of the KM Alliance (Facebook community) who was interested in the results from the
beginning of the research.
3.3.6. Further research directions
The present research only investigates a limited number of organizations mostly operating in
one market. Therefore, future research could be extended in the following directions:
1. Market differentiation
This study investigated 30 startups. Twenty-nine of those operate in Russia, and 1 operates
in the Dutch and Belgian markets. As of April 20th 2016, the author of the present research is
corresponding with Dr. Eleonora Shkolnik, director of the Ariel Venture Academy, Field Center
for Entrepreneurship, Israel, in order to establish joint comparative research of IT-enterprises
originating from Russia and Israel.
Additionally, further research could be conducted across several countries or several region
2. Scope expansion
The increase of the sample for the study could provide additional information regarding the
interdependence of factors and ways to enhance any of them. Analysis of increased amount of
data would provide an opportunity to investigate the relationships deeper and describe the
existing processes with a constructed comprehensive framework.
3. Quantitative expansion
Along with the scope expansion, obtained data, if its amount is increased two- or preferably
three-fold as compared to the current sample, would allow quantitative analysis and
implementation of statistical tests.
4. Sector expansion
The present study investigates IT-startups, the companies that develop and distribute their
digital products themselves. Expansion of the study object from IT-SMEs to cross-industrial
SMEs (e.g., digital agencies, creative agencies, and similar) or to larger enterprises within the
same sector would allow to obtain more data and run a comparative research on KM, creativity,
and communication practices and potentially generate valuable insights on the operations of
companies in creative knowledge economies.
5. New research questions
The study can be further continued in a number of scientific directions. For instance, the
following experimental research questions of interest are arising as a consequence of the present
Is there any influence of the studied factors on the effectiveness of IT-SMEs?
As compared to other knowledge-intensive industries, is the influence of creativity,
and communication on knowledge management higher in the IT-industry and its
small enterprises, and why?
Summary of chapter 3
Chapter 3 provides a detailed analysis of the data gathered in the research process and
answers the research questions stated in chapter 1. All investigative parts are discussed, their
results are analyzed and managerial implications and recommendations, limitations, significance
and applicability, and further research directions are discussed. Recommendations related to the
practices of small IT-enterprises are generated.
This thesis investigates the IT-SMEs in the Russian market, the internal practices of these
companies, and their relation to each other. These are the knowledge management, creativity, and
The review of the existing research has highlighted the importance and relevance of the
study. A number of studies investigate the relationships between KM practices and companies’
performance, relationships between creativity and knowledge management in organizations, and
other related topics, such as creativity in IT-enterprises or KM in SMEs; however, a very limited
amount of studies is dedicated to the IT-SMEs, combination of the three types of practices,
especially in the context of Russian market and startups operating in it.
According to the important considerations highlighted in the literature, an original research
design is developed for the purposes of the present study. The research design addresses the 4
areas identified for research by the stated research questions.
The study has found that there is a relation between knowledge management, creativity and
communication practices in IT-SMEs, which is consistent with the previous research. The study
also has shown that knowledge management practices in most organizations, along with explicit
creativity management practices, can be improved.
The analysis of the findings provided a base for managerial implications and
recommendations generation. The managerial implications discuss the threat of various biases
and organizational decisions for small IT-enterprises. Among the recommendations suggested
are the introduction of a certain hierarchy, introduction of a search system in the knowledge
storage systems is applicable, introduction of time constraints for development, introduction of
an ideas scorecard system, applicable trainings, and self-development ideas.
The research is subject to several limitations (scope- and nature-related), however, it is of
value to a broad circle of stakeholders, including the academia and business circles as it provides
the overview of the existing conditions of the organizations operating in the market, suggest
practical managerial actions, and provides a novel evaluative instrument.
The author would like to thank the following people:
Tatiana Albertovna Gavrilova, the academic supervisor, for the time, support, valuable
comments, and knowledge shared with the author;
Matvey K. Morozov and the Babykin family for advice and support;
Numerous members of IT-community and KM-community in Russia for their openness and
readiness to participate in the research; and
Friends and colleagues for their aid in data collection and questionnaires distribution:
Ahani, M., Bahrami, H., & Rostami, M. (2013). Determining and ranking
dimensions of knowledge management implementation using Hicks model and fuzzy TOPSIS
Technique. Management Science Letters, 3(2), 721-730.
Amabile, T. M. (1998). How to kill creativity. Boston, MA: Harvard Business
Amabile, T.M. (2012). Componential theory of creativity (pp. 3-4). Boston, MA:
Harvard Business School.
Auernhammer, J., & Hall, H. (2014). Organizational culture in knowledge
creation, creativity and innovation: Towards the Freiraum model. Journal of Information
Bilton, C. (2007). Management and creativity: From creative industries to
creative management. Blackwell Publishing.
Bukh, P., Skovvang Jensen, K., & Mouritsen, J. (2005). Knowledge
management and intellectual capital: Establishing a field of practice. Houndmills England:
Bukowitz, W., & Williams, R. (1999). The knowledge management fieldbook.
London: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Chang, J. J., Hung, K. P., & Lin, M. J. J. (2014). Knowledge creation and new
product performance: the role of creativity. R&D Management, 44(2), 107-123.
Chaoying, T., & Ye, L. (2015). Diversified Knowledge, R&D Team Centrality
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2006). Business research methods (9th ed.).
Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Cooren, F., Kuhn, T., Cornelissen, J. P., & Clark, T. (2011). Communication,
organizing and organization: An overview and introduction to the special issue. Organization
Studies, 32(9), 1149-1170.
Crawford, B., de la Barra, C. L., Soto, R., Misra, S., & Monfroy, E. (2012).
Knowledge Management and Creativity Practices in Software Engineering. InKMIS (pp. 277280).
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed
Methods Approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
DeAngelis, T. (2003). Why we overestimate our competence. Monitor on
Psychology, American Psychological Association, 34(2), 60.
de Castro, M., Lopez Saez, P., Navas Lopez, J., & Galindo Dorado, R. (2007).
Knowledge creation processes: Theory and empirical evidence from knowledge-intensive
firms. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
du Plessis, M. (2008). The strategic drivers and objectives of communities of
practice as vehicles for knowledge management in small and medium enterprises. International
Journal of Information Management, 28(1), 61-67.
Fisher, C. M., & Fisher, C. M. (2007). Researching and writing a dissertation: A
guidebook for business students (2nd ed.). Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall: Perason
Flick, U. (2006). An introduction to qualitative research (3rd ed.). London: Sage
Gabberty, J. W., & Thomas, J. D. (2007). Driving creativity: Extending
knowledge management into the multinational corporation. Interdisciplinary Journal of
Information, Knowledge, and Management, 2(January), 1-15.
Gaimon, C., & Bailey, J. (2013). Knowledge management for the entrepreneurial
venture. Production and Operations Management, 22(6), 1429-1438.
Gavrilova, T. & Grigoryev, L. (2005). Biznes derzhitsya na znaniyakh, sam togo
ne znaya [Businesses find their roots in knowledge without even knowing it]. Personal-Mix, 2,
Ghosh, B. N., & Chopra, P. K. (2003). A dictionary of research methods. Leeds,
England: Wisdom House.
Gilson, L. L., Lim, H. S., Litchfield, R. C., & Gilson, P. W. (2015). Creativity in
teams: A key building block for innovation and entrepreneurship. In C. E. Shalley, M. A. Hitt, &
J. Zhou (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (pp. 177204). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Goh, S. K., & Lim, K. Y. (2014). Perceived Creativity: The Role of Emotional
Intelligence and Knowledge Sharing Behaviour. Journal of Information & Knowledge
Management, 13(04), 1450037.
Gronau, N., Ullrich, A., Weber, E., Thim, C., & Cegarra, J. (2012). Using
Creativity Techniques as Operative Knowledge Management Tools: A Case Study. 1
Handzic, M., & Zhou, A. (2005). Knowledge management: An integrative
approach. Oxford: Chandos Pub.
Hicks, S. (2000). Are you ready for knowledge management? Training and
Development, 54(9), 71.
Holá, J. (2012). Internal communication in the small and medium sized
enterprises. E+ M Ekonomie a Management, (3), 32.
Holden, N. (2010). Cross-cultural management: A knowledge management
perspective. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Iacob, C. (2011). Design Patterns as Tools to Support Social Creativity and
Knowledge Management in Collaborative Design Processes. Journal of Information &
Knowledge Management, 10(04), 343-350.
Ideas Management Scorecard. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from
Jain, P., & Dahiya, D. (2010). A multi agent knowledge management system
architecture for the IT industry. International Conference On Real-Time & Embedded Systems,
Khedhaouria, A., & Ribiere, V. (2013, January). Team Knowledge Sourcing and
Creativity in IS Development. In System Sciences (HICSS), 2013 46th Hawaii International
Conference on (pp. 253-262). IEEE.
Kumar, V. K., Kemmler, D., & Holman, E. R. (1997). The Creativity Styles
Questionnaire--Revised. Creativity Research Journal, 10(1), 51-58.
Lai, W. H., & Tsen, H. C. (2013). Exploring the relationship between system
development life cycle and knowledge accumulation in Taiwan's IT industry. Expert
Systems, 30(2), 173-182.
Lancaster, G. (2005). Research methods in management: A concise introduction
to research in management and business consultancy. Oxford: Elsevier ButterworthHeinemann.
Lee, C. L., Ho, C. T., & Chiu, Y. L. (2008). The impact of knowledge
enterprises. International Journal of Technology Management, 43(1-3), 266-283.
Leonard, D. (2007). Knowledge transfer within organizations. In Ichijo, K. and
Nonaka, I. (Eds). Knowledge Creation and Management: new challenges for managers.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Leung, K., & Wang, J. (2015). A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Creativity. In C. E.
Shalley, M. A. Hitt, & J. Zhou (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Creativity, Innovation, and
Entrepreneurship (pp. 261-278). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Mack, N., Woodsong, C., MacQueen, K. M., Guest, G., & Namey, E. (2005).
Qualitative research methods: A data collector's field guide. North Carolina: FLI.
Perry-Smith, J., & Mannucci, P. V. (2015). Social Networks, Creativity, and
Entrepreneurship. In C. E. Shalley, M. A. Hitt, & J. Zhou (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of
Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (pp. 205-224). New York, NY: Oxford University
McPhee, R. D. (2004). Text, agency, and organization in the light of structuration
theory. Organization, 11(3), 355-371.
Mittal, S., & Dhar, R. L. (2015). Transformational leadership and employee
creativity: mediating role of creative self-efficacy and moderating role of knowledge
sharing. Management Decision, 53(5), 894-910.
Mohannak, K. (2014). Knowledge management challenges in small-and
Newell, S., Robertson, M., Scarbrough, H., & Swan, J. (2009). Managing
knowledge work and innovation (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Osborn, A. (1953). Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative
Problem Solving. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.
Overall, J. (2015). A Conceptual Framework of Innovation and Performance: The
Importance of Leadership, Relationship Quality, and Knowledge Management. Academy of
Entrepreneurship Journal, 21(2), 41.
Peng, J., Zhang, G., Fu, Z., & Tan, Y. (2014). An empirical investigation on
organizational innovation and individual creativity. Information Systems and e-Business
Management, 12(3), 465-489.
Peters, M. A. (2010). Three forms of the knowledge economy: Learning,
creativity and openness. British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(1), 67-88.
Phipps, S. T., & Prieto, L. C. (2012). Knowledge is power? An inquiry into
knowledge management, its effects on individual creativity, and the moderating role of an
entrepreneurial mindset. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 11(1), 43.
Rahimi, H., Arbabisarjou, A., Allameh, S. M., & Aghababaei, R. (2011).
Relationship between knowledge management process and creativity among faculty members in
the university. Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, 6, 17-33.
Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. The Phi Delta Kappan, 42, 305-310.
Sapsford, R., & Jupp, V. (2006). Data collection and analysis (2nd ed.). London:
SAGE Publications in association with the Open University.
Sartori, F. (2012). Collective Creativity Management in Small and Medium
Enterprises: A Case Based Reasoning Approach. International Journal of Knowledge and
Systems Science (IJKSS), 3(2), 1-23.
Saulais, P., & Ermine, J. (2012). Creativity and knowledge management. VINE:
The Journal Of Information & Knowledge Management Systems, 42(3/4), 416-438.
Saunders, M. N., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for
business students. Pearson Education.
Shalley, C. E., Hitt, M. A., & Zhou, J. (Eds.). (2015). The Oxford Handbook of
Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Sociometria: Izuchenie mezhlichnostnykh otnosheniy v gruppe [in Russian,
Sociometry: Studying Interpersonal Relations in a Group]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 21, 2016, from
Stirbu, O. A. M. (2014). Knowledge Based Management Trends in IT
Companies. Revista de Management Comparat International, 15(4), 514.
Suresh, A. (2013). Knowledge Management Adoption, Practice and Innovation in
the Indian Organizational Set Up: An Empirical Study. Journal of Information Technology and
Economic Development, 4(2), 31.
The Innovation Scorecard™ - Idélaboratoriet – Innovation and Idea Management
Consulting Services. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from http://www.idelaboratoriet.com/theinnovation-scorecard/
Thierauf, R.J., Hoctor, J.J. (2006). Optimal Knowledge Management: Wisdom
Management Systems, Concepts and Applications. London: Idea Group Publishing.
Wallas, G. (1926). The Art of Thought. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Welman, C., Kruger, F., & Mitchell, B. (2005). Research methodology. Oxford
Woodman, R. W., Sawyer, J. E., & Griffin, R. W. (1993). Toward a theory of
organizational creativity. Academy of management review, 18(2), 293-321.
Yan, Y., Davison, R. M., & Mo, C. (2013). Employee creativity formation: The
roles of knowledge seeking, knowledge contributing and flow experience in Web 2.0 virtual
communities. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), 1923-1932.
Yang, J., & Rui, M. (2009). Turning knowledge into new product creativity: an
empirical study. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 109(9), 1197-1210.
Yeh, Y. C., & Lin, C. F. (2015). Aptitude-Treatment Interactions during
Creativity Training in E-Learning: How Meaning-Making, Self-Regulation, and Knowledge
Management Influence Creativity. Educational Technology & Society, 18(1), 119-131.
Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research and design and methods (2nd ed.).
LIKERT-SCALE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
KM processes intensity scale
1) All ideas are discussed.
2) We hold special meetings/conference calls/skype calls, etc. in order to share new
information and knowledge.
3) All team members know each other and know how to contact each other if some
information is needed.
4) We have an internal communications code that we follow.
5) We think that team communications influence our productivity.
1) It's typical for us to discuss news related to our work.
2) We document new information and ideas to store them.
3) We have a regulated ideas and information storage system.
4) We have an evaluation and ranking scheme for new ideas.
5) We developed a way to find our way around our information storage system.
1) We think group discussions are fruitful.
2) Information and knowledge sharing is encouraged in our organization.
3) Training events are taking place.
4) We have a special platform (a group in a social network, a chat, a cloud storage, etc.) to
share information and ideas.
5) We hold special idea generation sessions – brainstorming, discussions, etc.
1) We evaluate and reprocess stored information and knowledge.
2) Gaining new knowledge is an important work process for us.
3) We quantitatively measure our intellectual capital.
4) Each member of our team has a defined competence and information work zone.
5) When working, we often consult with each other/our information archive/external
1) Workers who generate more original ideas are valued more (get bigger compensation).
2) We encourage workers to think how their activities outside of work can help our
3) We can quantitatively measure the results of knowledge management endeavors.
4) We can quantitatively measure the results of idea generation.
5) New ideas are one of our core assets.
Personal creativity scale:
1) I consider myself a creative person.
2) I get new ideas more often than my colleagues.
3) I practice in solving creative tasks.
4) I often think how to make my work better.
5) I like thinking about new ideas and planning their implementation.
6) New ideas often come to me from combination of old ideas.
7) Scope of my interests is rather broad and is not limited to work.
8) I’m resourceful and can find needed materials rather quick.
9) I like solving problems.
10) I don’t reject non-working ideas but try to change them in a way for them to be useful.
11) I like learning new information.
12) I have a sense of humor about my work.
13) I can adapt my skills and knowledge to solve new unknown tasks.
14) I can analyze my work and define its advantages and flows.
15) I like working in a creative team.
16) I can characterize our company as a very creative one.
17) Our company strives to constantly generate new productive ideas.
18) I like finding connections between different ideas and phenomena.
19) I often have a vision about the task I’m solving.
20) My ideas can be odd and original.
21) I like playing with ideas rather than leap on the first one when I try solving a problem.
Interpersonal relations characteristics scale:
1) There’s a distinct agreed hierarchy in our organization.
2) Communication style of the colleagues in our organization is democratic.
3) Colleagues spend their free time together sometimes.
4) I feel comfortable among colleagues.
5) All colleagues communicate equally among each other.
6) There are no evident outsiders among colleagues.
7) Relationships within the company can be characterized as tense.
8) There are people within our company who don’t get along with some of the colleagues.
9) There is a person (people) in the company who can definitely be considered a leader.
10) Friendly relationships are prevalent within the company.
11) It’s usual to ask for help or advice in our company.
12) If someone is criticized, it is done softly.
13) In our company information is shared among all colleagues.
14) I can say that colleagues treat each other with equal respect.
15) I can openly express my real thoughts and emotions among colleagues.
Note: for analysis purposes and clarity of the questionnaire, answers to questions 7 and 8
are to be inverted, so that 1 becomes 5, and vice versa.
To satisfy the author’s interest, a correlation coefficient for the knowledge management,
creativity, and communication practices scale scores was calculated. The correlation was run for
the pairs of data sets listed in the Table 15 below and yielded the outputs as listed in the same
table. The following sets of data were analyzed:
Total KM scale score per company (KM);
Total creativity scale score per company (CR);
Total communications scale score per company (COM);
Table 15 Correlations
KM / CR
KM / COM
COM / CR
Source: own research
As the table suggests, a moderate positive correlation is observed between each of the
elements: knowledge management, creativity, and communication practices, especially so
between the knowledge management and creativity practices scores. However, the author is
cautious about these coefficients as the sample size is not large enough in order to make a