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Volume 26 / Issue 9

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A Cooperative Design Method for SMEs to Adopt New Technologies for Knowledge Management: A Multiple Case Study

Angela Fessl (Know-Center GmbH, Austria)

Viktoria Pammer-Schindler (Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Kai Pata (Tallinn University, Estland)

Sandra Feyertag (Know-Center GmbH, Austria)

Mati Mõttus (Tallinn University, Estland)

Jörgen Janus (Tallinn University, Estland)

Tobias Ley (Tallinn University, Estland)

Abstract: This paper presents cooperative design as method to address the needs of SMEs to gain sufficient knowledge about new technologies in order for them to decide about adoption for knowledge management. We developed and refined a cooperative design method iteratively over nine use cases. In each use case, the goal was to match the SME's knowledge management needs with offerings of new (to the SMEs) technologies. Where traditionally, innovation adoption and diffusion literature assume new knowledge to be transferred from knowledgeable stakeholders to less knowledgeable stakeholders, our method is built on cooperative design. In this, the relevant knowledge is constructed by the SMEs who wish to decide upon the adoption of novel technologies through the cooperative design process. The presented method is constituted of an analysis stage based on activity theory and a design stage based on paper prototyping and design workshops. In all nine cases, our method led to a good understanding a) of the domain by researchers - validated by the creation of meaningful first-version paper prototypes and b) of new technologies - validated by meaningful input to design and plausible assessment of technologies' benefit for the respective SME. Practitioners and researchers alike are invited to use the here documented tools to cooperatively match the domain needs of practitioners with the offerings of new technologies. The value of our work lies in providing a concrete implementation of the cooperative design paradigm that is based on an established theory (activity theory) for work analysis and established tools of cooperative design (paper prototypes and design workshops as media of communication); and a discussion based on nine heterogeneous use cases.

Keywords: cooperative design, innovation in SMEs, knowledge management

Categories: M.0