Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)




Lonny Ness


Small business enterprises (SBEs) are significant contributors to business growth and employment in the United States, but despite governmental support, the failure rate of SBEs is high. Some small business leaders lack the critical management skills to detect or discover when underperformance in revenue-generation is due to gaps in organizational knowledge or business practices associated with managing knowledge assets. Guided by the knowledge-based view of the firm, the purpose of this multiple case study was to address that gap by exploring the skills needed by leaders to understand how deficiencies in their knowledge management practices contribute to underperformance. Semistructured interview data were collected from a sample of 10 small business leaders in the northeast and west. Data from publicly available documentation consisting of sales brochures, press releases, and participant company websites were also collected. Data analysis entailed using keyword frequency comparisons, coding techniques, and cluster analysis. The key themes indicate that the participants' document management practices and misaligned core business practices impeded value creation. The recommended change in business practices for small business leaders is to formalize social engagement with customers, use document management tools, and adopt process management techniques. The implications for social change include mitigating the harmful effects of business failure on society associated with job loss, stress-related disabilities, and reduced charitable donations to groups serving disadvantaged citizens. The beneficiaries of this research include small business leaders, business practitioners, and policy makers.