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Investigating the use of emergent strategic human resource management activity in the small firm

Sue Marlo (Department of HRM, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



There is little information regarding how, or whether, small‐firm owners use their own and their management team’s skills and experiences as part of a strategic approach to achieving business goals, durability and, if desired, growth. It would appear that firms which do utilise a strategic approach, however informal, are more likely to endure. Design school strategic management techniques have traditionally been sited in, and associated with, corporate enterprises and, as such, would not be readily accessible to most small firms. Recent critics of this design school approach argue that strategic activity, in the majority of firms, is far more intuitive and flexible than previously believed and describe this as an emergent approach to strategy. If this is the case, it should be possible for most small‐firm owners and managers to harness their business skills, which evidence would suggest are likely to be intuitive, based on experience, and flexible, to develop an emergent approach to strategy. To investigate the proposition further, this paper focuses primarily upon strategic human resource management (HRM) in small firms, arguing that the efficient use of labour in small firms is a critical activity for such firms to achieve durability and if desired, growth. This paper will, therefore, briefly consider the debates surrounding design school and emergent strategies, examine the role of strategic HRM within the enterprise in some detail and then present empirical findings to illustrate these issues.



Marlo, S. (2000), "Investigating the use of emergent strategic human resource management activity in the small firm", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 135-148.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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