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Extending the “size matters” debate: Drivers of training in three business process outsourcing SMEs in India

Ashish Malik (School of Business, University of Newcastle, Central Coast Campus, Australia)
Venkataraman Nilakant (Department of Management, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 28 January 2011




The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors that influence training decision making in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India's IT‐enabled business process outsourcing industry.


The research strategy employed is a case study. Data from semi‐structured interviews, organizational documents, and non‐participant observation are analysed.


The inclusive theoretical approach uncovers novel explanations through the complex interaction that occurs between various internal and external factors that shape the nature and extent of training provision in SMEs in the context of a developing country. In SMEs, enterprise training can take a variety of forms – formal, informal, and incidental. The final training provision is shaped by high employee turnover, the complexity of the process, client specifications, and the presence of certain organizational capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

Although a multi‐case embedded design was followed, the results and findings cannot be generalized to a wider population. Findings are generalized to the literature on the drivers of training.

Practical implications

The paper's findings allow practitioners to utilize scarce resources effectively, particularly for where SMEs are operating in a dynamic outsourcing environment.


This paper extends the current academic and policy discourses on formal and informal training in SMEs by reporting findings from a new context – India's dynamic outsourcing environment. Novel explanations are offered of how SMEs that outsource business process offshore meet their skill development needs.



Malik, A. and Nilakant, V. (2011), "Extending the “size matters” debate: Drivers of training in three business process outsourcing SMEs in India", Management Research Review, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 111-132.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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