Investors in People (IIP), the heavily promoted government initiative to enhance organisations’ training and development practices, is significant for its deliberate intention to influence the conduct of management within the firm. While previous studies of IIP have tended to concentrate on large organisations, the dynamics of IIP in the increasingly important small firm population have been neglected. This article focuses on the experiences of three small firms, in particular the rationale for involvement with IIP, the market context of the small firms, its impact on market relations, and the extent to which IIP has made a difference to the nature of the business. The findings highlight the importance of sectoral and workplace relations. The IIP agenda of formalising training and development does not appear to sit easily with these processes; and appears to neglect the significance of informal training. Moreover, the requirements go against the grain of the distinctive small firm context.
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