An interesting paper by Sari SalojÃ¤rvi, Patrick Furu, and Karl-Erik Sveiby Knowledge Management and Growth in Finnish SME's (pdf), published in the Journal of Knowledge Management, vol 9, no 2, 2005. They surveyed a number of Finnish small-to-medium enterprises around their knowledge management practice an unearthed some useful information.
Higher levels of KM-Maturity were found to correlate positively with long-term sustainable growth. Although Finnish SMEs display a surprisingly high awareness about KM, only a minor proportion of the sample firms has been able to benefit in terms of growth from their KM-related activities. The results have implications for policy formulation in the field of SMEs, since half the Finnish SMEs in the sample do not grow. We found that the fast-growing companies with high KM-Maturity are applying KM-related activities in a comprehensive and balanced way, thereby raising question marks around the effectiveness of eclectic "KM implementations".
I found this through one of my KM searches that pointed me to the FreePint forum entry that referenced an article of the same name in the bi-monthly FreePint Newsletter #186: Knowledge Management Does Not Grow on Bonsai Trees by Sheena Thompson. This article also focuses on SME's with a wider view than just Finnish companies. Thompson describes several typical KM areas and how SME's could benefit. She emphasizes the importance of the top management in these enterprises, as they are the ones who have to maintain the vision for their organizations.
[I]t will be the pro-active owner/managers who recognise the need to develop their understanding of KM and take advantage of the guidance available that will prosper in the long term.