Leaders, loungers, laggards: The strategic‐planning‐environment‐ performance relationship re‐visited in manufacturing SMEs

Nicholas O'Regan (Bristol Business School, Bristol, UK)
Martin A. Sims (Hertfordshire University Business School, Hatfield, UK)
David Gallear (Brunel Business School, Uxbridge, UK)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Publication date: 1 January 2008



This paper aims to assess the link between strategic‐planning, aspects of the external environment and overall corporate performance in manufacturing SMEs.


A self‐reported postal survey was used to collect data from an initial sample of 1,000 randomly selected small and medium sized UK electronics and engineering firms. Prior to its deployment a number a staged approach was used to validate the questionnaire with a number of adjustments made following the pilot stage. A T‐test was used to examine the difference between early and late informants' response to key questions. Based on this test and telephone contact with non‐respondents, the authors conclude that non‐response is not a significant issue and should not affect their conclusions. Data reliability was confirmed using Cronbach's α – a commonly used statistical tool to consider data reliability when perceptual measures are used.


The findings indicate that the degree of awareness of external environment threats is associated with the degree of overall emphasis on the strategic‐planning process. Strategic‐planning in manufacturing SMEs is positively linked to overall corporate performance. The findings suggest the need to align the degree of emphasis on strategic‐planning and environmental awareness.


External operating environment threats are often ignored or at best marginalized by SMEs. The findings of this study emphasize the need to focus on strategic‐planning and to ensure alignment with the external operating environment.



O'Regan, N., Sims, M.A. and Gallear, D. (2008), "Leaders, loungers, laggards: The strategic‐planning‐environment‐ performance relationship re‐visited in manufacturing SMEs", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 6-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410380810843426

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