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Strategic toolkits practice and performance: a German SME perspective

Richard Wagner (Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Robert A. Paton (Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)


ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




This paper aims to explore to what extent senior executives, particularly within the German machinery and equipment small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), gather and apply knowledge pertaining strategic management (SM) tools. Furthermore, the study aims to provide research evidence as to whether or not the companies derive any performance enhancing benefit from the appliance of said with the knowledge.


The research relied on a self-administered questionnaire mailed or posted to the entire population of about 6,000 enterprises. The resulting data were analyzed with the statistical package for social science (SPSS) statistical software package.


Executives within the sector, especially those with a predominantly engineering background, lack both knowledge and understanding of SM in general and strategic tool-kits in particular. Interestingly, educational background, in association with toolkit usage, appears to enhance organizational performance.

Research limitations/implications

The German educational system, in conjunction with the associated professional development infrastructures, may impact the generalizability of the research findings.

Practical implications

The results from this study can be used for lobbying policy-makers and shapers, e.g. government, higher education, industry and professional bodies, to improve and expand engineering management education so that practitioners have the knowledge of and competency in SM.


The study provides an insight look of how executives in one of Germany’s most successful industries deal with the knowledge and application of SM tools and their impact on performance. Extant research has not dealt with Germany or this sector in relation to the appliance of strategy-related knowledge and performance.



Wagner, R. and A. Paton, R. (2014), "Strategic toolkits practice and performance: a German SME perspective", VINE, Vol. 44 No. 4, pp. 470-495.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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