Engaging SMEs in Cooperation and New Forms of Learning

Ileana Hamburg, Emma O. Brien, Steffi Engert


Globalization has strong if contradictory impacts on SMEs. The sharp increase of worldwide competition in recent decades weakened SMEs right across the board. At the same time, globalization offers many new opportunities and the importance of SMEs has increased. Opportunties include the potential to act as collaborators in multi-enterprise consortia, for international clients and partners. Their importance has increased because of their specific potential, such as high specialization and the ability to react faster than big enterprises. Therefore, it is important for such companies to take up the challenge to operate on a global scale. To be able to play this role, SMEs have to tackle change and develop their learning processes on a far-reaching scale. If the triangle and interplay of continuous learning, knowledge management and new technologies, is key in making or breaking companies as well as national and supranational entities (such as the EU), it is important new means of addressing these areas, particularly through the use of ICT are explored. While ICT and especially web 2.0 applications – social networks, blogging, web repositories and shared resources, modern learning platforms – have great potential to support and enable SMEs in their drive towards competitiveness, the realization of this potential is by no means automatic. Success depends on a strategic approach, technical skills and facilities. This paper takes a closer look at the situation of European SMEs and presents findings from recent European projects identifying the ongoing problems in the adoption of new forms of learning. Secondly the paper discusses learning approaches and web-based technologies particularly suitable for SMEs.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/cis.v7n1p1

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