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“The five fingers of my hand”: human capital and well-being in SMEs

Lidia Galabova (Technical University of Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria)
Linda McKie (Durham University, Durham, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 16 September 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the SME managers' understanding of, and attitudes towards human capital (HC) and well-being as factors impacting on the business performance of their organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study from which this paper reports included qualitative data collected through 42 semi-structured interviews with senior managers of SMEs from growth industries in the service sector. Research was undertaken in three European Union countries: Scotland (UK), Finland and Bulgaria. These countries are considered to be at different stages in the development of a knowledge-based economy (KBE) and innovation.

Findings

It is evident that whilst SME managers are interested in knowledge, skills and experience as key elements of HC, peoples' soft skills and attributes, such as attitude, willingness and ability to learn and develop, and enthusiasm about the(ir) work are often considered more important. HC is seen as potentially an abundant resource, providing scope for competitive advantage at both personal and enterprise levels.

Practical implications

The key findings from this paper inform future policy and HRM practices in respect to the development of a KBE through highlighting positive impacts for SMEs' strategy management practice.

Social implications

The key findings from this paper inform future policy and HRM practices in respect to the development of a KBE through highlighting positive impacts for SMEs' strategy management practice.

Originality/value

This paper indentifies SME managers recognition of individual's potential to gain new knowledge coupled with a willingness to learn as important – and often more so than formal knowledge and experience. It gives valuable insights about well-being viewed through the prism of SME management. It offers opportunities for personal development as well as the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. These can have a positive impact on potential employability and also the evaluation job content.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013]: Marie Curie Actions, under grant agreement no. PIEF-GA-2009-236334. The authors would like to express their special thanks to the support of the FP7: Marie Curie Actions, who made this research possible. The successful completion of any research project is greatly reliant on the cooperation and support of a range of people. Team members involved in this research are: Lidia Galabova, Linda McKie, David Edgar, Gill Hogg, Guy Ahonen, Isabell Majewsky, and Mark Anderson. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the rest of the team members, who devoted time, energy and insights to aid the development of this paper.

Citation

Galabova, L. and McKie, L. (2013), "“The five fingers of my hand”: human capital and well-being in SMEs", Personnel Review, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 662-683. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-01-2012-0017

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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