This paper aims to explore the relationships between knowledge management (KM), performance measurement systems (PMSs), and small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) economic sustainability in knowledge-intensive sectors. The literature demonstrates that SMEs are often characterized by unstructured KM approaches and limited PMS implementation, being at the same time affected by scarce profitability and financial issues. Adopting the knowledge-based view of the firm and the contingency theory of PMSs, we tested the impact of two alternative KM approaches (exploitation and exploration) on SMEs’ economic sustainability, measuring the moderating effect of PMS use (diagnostic and interactive). Through an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression of data collected for 219 Italian medium firms operating in knowledge-intensive sectors, this study provides evidence on how a specific KM approach supports the SME economic sustainability and how a consistent implementation and use of PMS amplify the relationship between KM and economic sustainability. Data analysis confirms the relevance of some key concepts of the knowledge-based view of the firm, especially the positive impact of the KM exploration approach on economic sustainability. Additionally, the paper extends empirical evidence for the PMS moderating effect on the KM–performance relationship. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a study provides evidence for the relationships among KM, PMSs, and economic sustainability in the SME setting. Moreover, our findings lead to some managerial implications, especially they encourage SME entrepreneurs and managers to design a coherent KM approach and to implement an adequate PMS in order to support economic sustainability.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited