Knowledge management and the entrepreneur: Insights from Ikujiro Nonaka's Dynamic Knowledge Creation model (SECI)

Cesar Bandera, Fazel Keshtkar, Michael R. Bartolacci, Shiromani Neerudu, Katia Passerini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A key goal of knowledge management (KM) is to foster innovation through the creation of new knowledge. Surprisingly, there is little research on KM in the context of entrepreneurship, a domain where innovation is considered essential. This paper extends established theories and frameworks for KM to the understudied context of KM in small and medium entrepreneurial firms, particularly young startups. Translating KM frameworks, such as the widely studied SECI model, into the entrepreneurial domain could eventually help startups in their quest for sustainability and growth. The SECI model is an aspirational process with which to build new knowledge, including the explicit knowledge assets that startups commonly lack. However, an aspiration is only useful if the subject knows where he or she stands in relation to it. This study focuses on understanding whether entrepreneurial activities embed into, and can further enable, the “virtuous” knowledge-creation cycle. The secondary objective of this paper is to acknowledge Ikujiro Nonaka's contribution to western and eastern KM theories, and extend his seminal theories into other domains, such as small and medium enterprises. This work pilots the use of a content analysis technique largely used in psychology to analyze the connection between entrepreneurship and KM. With this method, the study highlights how the four phases of the SECI model apply to startup firms in a business incubator in the United States. It provides insights into the knowledge-creation process of entrepreneurs, and suggests how entrepreneurs can improve startup survival through greater awareness and use of KM in their business planning and operational activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-174
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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