The impact of Web 2.0 in the informal learning of the Portuguese SME
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Small and medium enterprises (SME) are specially pressured in the competitive landscape towards greater efficiency, specialization and innovation. Web 2.0 technologies can be used as an answer to those needs, as enablers of new working methods, with special emphasis on the role of communities and collaboration.
Recognizing the emergence of a learning- and knowledge-based society, and the pivotal role of SME in the European economy, AIP-CE and CEPCEP/UCP started a pilot study in Portugal. The goal of this ongoing project is to contribute to the debate over SME usage of Web 2.0 tools in the learning context, providing an insight over current trends as well as helping to design future actions.
The researchers are using three different tools for empirical data collection: quantitative surveys, workshops with “pioneer” SME and think tank sessions. As the study is not yet completed, the focus of the current paper is to present the key ideas, conceptual model and methodology, as well as our preliminary findings.
The preliminary results show the need of a deep change in the SME management paradigm before the full exploitation of the Web 2.0 can occur. While the development of learning environments and sharing networks is helping to configure an SME 2.0 vision, that vision won’t have an easy time turning into reality due to the incipient usage of these tools and the existing obstacles. Therefore, the concept of a fast, easy and global adoption in SME should be discarded.
Nevertheless, the competitive enabler that a network based collaboration represents, the recognized value of knowledge sharing and the willingness of people to participate in change are all positive factors in the path towards the persistent and systematic development of the SME 2.0 vision. Businesses and public policy makers should not be indifferent to this opportunity and trend in the knowledge based society.