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How small family-owned businesses may compete with retail superstores : Tacit knowledge and perceptive concordance among owner-managers and customers

Cinzia Dessi (Economics Department, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy)
Wilson Ng (Business School, University of Roehampton, London, UK)
Michela Floris (Economics Department, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy)
Stefano Cabras (Economics Department, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the “perceptive concordance” – the proximity of perceptions of the business- between key managers and customers of two small family-owned and managed businesses (“FBs”) and two larger non-FBs in Cagliari, Italy as a preliminary basis for understanding how small retail businesses that are typically family owned have continued to compete and thrive in many Western European cities.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors asked how small FBs have been able to compete in an advanced European economy despite apparent competitive disadvantages relative to large superstores selling the same products. In addressing this question the authors drew on a qualitative research methodology in which the authors interviewed senior managers and surveyed customers of the four businesses and applied an original statistical model to assess the degree of their perceptive concordance with over 100 customers of each business.

Findings

The study's findings suggest a significant difference between key managers and customers of the sampled FBs and non-FBs in the perceptive concordance of the respective businesses held by those managers and customers.

Research limitations/implications

Based on the research in this study the authors have developed a number of scholarly and managerial implications in the way that both FBs and non-FBs may retain old customers and gain new ones by anticipating and not merely responding to their product and service preferences.

Originality/value

This paper extends the literature on customer relations management (“CRM”) in FBs by explaining how small High Street FBs in competitive retail businesses have continued to thrive in Western Europe where owner-managers have developed and successfully leveraged their tacit knowledge of the requirements of repeat customers.

Keywords

Citation

Dessi, C., Ng, W., Floris, M. and Cabras, S. (2014), "How small family-owned businesses may compete with retail superstores : Tacit knowledge and perceptive concordance among owner-managers and customers", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 668-689. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-02-2014-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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