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Redressing small firm resilience: exploring owner-manager resources for resilience

Tony Wall (Centre for Work Related Studies, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Lawrence Bellamy (Faculty of Business, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 19 March 2019

Issue publication date: 18 April 2019




The owner-manager of small firms is recognised as having a potentially significant role in the small firm’s competitiveness, growth and failure. However, the owner-manager’s own resilience has been largely overlooked in the small firm resilience literature. The purpose of this paper is to redress this and expand the debate and empirical basis of small firm owner-managers’ personal resources for resilience.


This longitudinal qualitative study deployed semi-structured interviews with nine owner-managers, each being interviewed three or four times. Analytical procedures were used with an established framework, which conceptualised four key personal resources for resilience, as follows: adaptability, confidence, social support and purposefulness.


There were four key findings, as follows: owner-manager adaptability can appear in extremes including a sense of helplessness or optimism where disruptive circumstances are not sensed as problematic; owner-manager confidence levels often echo their own mindset of adaptability, that is, from helplessness to positive ambition; owner-managers can use discursive tactics with strong/weak ties for a range of affective and technical resources for resilience; and purposefulness tended to be framed in terms of a necessity for a longer term future state related to own or family lifestyle rather than profit. It is also noted that the owner-manager and the firm are closely interrelated, and therefore, enhancement of personal resilience resources is likely to positively influence their resilience, and therefore, the resilience of the organisation and strategic capability of the firm.


The small firm resilience literature typically focusses on the organisational level, which de-emphasises the salient role of the owner-manager and their resilience. This study attempts to redress this.



Wall, T. and Bellamy, L. (2019), "Redressing small firm resilience: exploring owner-manager resources for resilience", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 269-288.



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