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A study of viability and the management of knowledge in community enterprises in Thailand

Wisontheera Mettanont


Wisontheera Mettanont


Angela Ma. (Angela María) Espinosa Salazar

Fernando (Lecturer in sustainable business management) Correia


This research is related to the viability and management of knowledge in community enterprises (CEs) in Thailand. CE is a term that represents a range of business activities which are founded and operated by local people in order to strengthen economic development in a community. CEs also contribute to preserving indigenous knowledge and culture, encourage learning and social development in their communities, and promote cooperation for people to solve their problems.
Although CEs can provide several advantages as mentioned above, it has been found that a number of CEs cause economic, social and environmental problems to communities. These problems may arise from weaknesses in knowledge, thinking and learning, which affect the viability of the CEs. Therefore, knowledge management (KM) is the focus for this study because it not only involves the management of knowledge and learning, but is also considered as a method to support viability, competiveness and the growth of organisations. The Viable Systems Model (VSM) is also considered because it is a theoretical framework that explains organisational viability and sustainability. Furthermore, VSM can strengthen KM implementation by making KM more effective.
Even while the literature shows several studies on KM in CEs, only a small number of them explain the way KM affects CEs viability and sustainability. Moreover, research into applying the VSM to CEs is relatively rare. Therefore, this research aims to combine KM with the VSM to study the survival problems of CEs in Thailand. This study aims to explore useful ways to improve the viability of CEs using KM. The research objectives are to investigate how to enhance CEs’ knowledge in a way which improves the viability of CEs, to explore knowledge sharing between CEs and communities in order to improve their collaborative learning and viability, to propose a KM model which can contribute to improving the viability of CEs, and to extend the body of knowledge by applying a VSM framework to KM, particularly with small organisations like CEs in Thailand.
To achieve the research aim and objectives, an interpretivist research paradigm and a qualitative approach were employed. Eight CEs from four regions of Thailand were taken as case studies. These case studies were categorized into two groups, consisting of best practice CEs group and typical CEs group. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, participant observation and focus groups. The data collected was analysed by grouping according to the research questions. In order to enhance the transparency of the data analysis process, the computer-aided qualitative data analysis software NVivo was employed.
The key findings of this study include clarifying the type of knowledge required for CEs’ viability and the ways to manage such knowledge. In addition, six factors contributing to CEs’ viability are derived from this study’s findings. These factors include leadership, networks/connections, external environment monitoring and preparing for changes (S4 of VSM), continuous learning in CEs through both adaptive and generative learning, continuous knowledge creation, and support from government agencies.
These findings make both theoretical and practical contributions. In terms of theoretical contributions, the gap in using KM to directly study the viability of small organisations as CEs is filled; knowledge in complementing KM with VSM is extended; and using the VSM criteria to improve organisational viability is extended to unique organisations like CEs. Regarding practical implications, the findings, which include ways to improve the viability of CEs using KM, can contribute useful management information to CEs and government agencies involved in the development of CEs. This research also offers guidance for future research regarding CEs’ viability.


Wisontheera Mettanont. (2015). A study of viability and the management of knowledge in community enterprises in Thailand. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 2015


Thesis (6.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Wisontheera Mettanont. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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