Examines output determination in a sample of 50 small engineering firms with up to 100 employees in the Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset and Wiltshire region during 1992‐1997. Face‐to‐face interviews using a personal, open, unstructured approach were conducted in all firms with selected follow‐up discussions during the five‐year period. The findings indicate disconcerting problems of output determination within the sample. As a result of non‐optimum approaches to output determination displayed by the firms, financial returns will inevitably tend to remain disappointing for the small engineering firm. Seeks to provide all those interested in the promotion of business activity in the small firm sector, such as industry itself, higher education, government departments, the advisory bodies, consultants and local authorities, with a clearer appreciation of the real motivations and weaknesses behind output decision making.
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