Unplanned managerial work : A driver for knowledge creation and innovation capabilities in manufacturing SMEs

Sammanfattning: Manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are important as they contribute to economic growth, employment opportunities and social integration. Their innovation capability is central to strengthening competitiveness, adaptability, and developing new sustainable solutions. However, these organisations often lack the resources to have separate research and development departments. As a result, the same employees are often responsible for both keeping operations running and developing the organisation’s innovation capabilities. This dissertation adopts an intra-organisational perspective on knowledge creation to strengthen innovation capabilities and for this, managerial work is key. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation is to investigate managerial work in the context of manufacturing SMEs to understand innovation capabilities through a knowledge creation perspective.This research involved a collaborative and interactive approach, as the researcher worked closely with six manufacturing SMEs. Studies were conducted using a variety of in-depth, qualitative research methods, including workshops, focus groups, diaries, interviews, shadowing and feedback sessions. These methods allowed for a comprehensive understanding of SMEs’ managerial work from different perspectives.Three key characteristics of managerial work in manufacturing SMEs were identified. First, managerial work is initiated externally or internally. Second, managerial work is planned or unplanned where the former supports the explicit and the latter supports the implicit dimensions of managerial work processes. Third, it results in both matched and mismatched activities. For knowledge creation to take place, both planned and unplanned managerial work are important. The findings suggest that by embracing the multidimensional managerial work and providing opportunities for both planned and unplanned work, including individual and joint reflection, manufacturing SMEs can enhance their innovation capabilities to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.