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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2017

Paolo Neirotti, Elisabetta Raguseo and Emilio Paolucci

Literature on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has so far produced limited evidence on how these firms pursue their organizational flexibility with information and…

Abstract

Purpose

Literature on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has so far produced limited evidence on how these firms pursue their organizational flexibility with information and communication technology (ICT) and ad hoc work practices. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the extant literature by focusing on how SMEs use flexible work practices that provide latitude with respect to when employees work, where they work and via which communication medium. Specifically, the authors analyze how such practices are related to the conditions that SMEs face in reference to their competitive environment and their patterns of ICT usage.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was conducted on 304 Italian SMEs, with the aim of identifying the contextual dimensions where flexible work is chosen and the different typologies of flexible work implemented by companies.

Findings

Flexible work in SMEs is chosen for different reasons associated to different conditions in the competitive environments and in ICT usage where SMEs operate. In general, SMEs use flexible work when they are more capable of improving their external orientation toward suppliers, customers, and the entrance in new markets with ICT. This duality is more likely in the competitive environments where external orientation and information processing is more needed, namely, environments that are uncertain and complex for product and breadth of the geographical complexity (scope) covered.

Research limitations/implications

In this paper, the authors offer an analysis on the contextual characterizations of flexible work practices. Future studies should disentangle more in depth the ways these characterizations are related to different ICT usages.

Practical implications

In uncertain and complex environments, SMEs should increase their external information processing with ICT and organizational practices that support the latitude of employees involved in boundary spanning with respect to where, when, and how they work.

Originality/value

This paper offers an interpretation of flexible work as an organizational mechanism used to cope with uncertain and complex environments where more external orientation is needed. This paper also shows that there are four different typologies of flexible work implemented by companies, namely, flexible work for cheaper input costs, flexible work for operational drivers, flexible work for strategic drivers, and flexible work for individual motivations, and that in some cases the conditions under which they are chosen are different.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Paolo Neirotti, Elisabetta Raguseo and Emilio Paolucci

The adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has some peculiarities that may depend on the combined effect of size…

Abstract

Purpose

The adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has some peculiarities that may depend on the combined effect of size and the competitive environment. The purpose of this paper is to use a contingency approach to explore how SMEs develop organizational capabilities through ICT investments in response to environmental conditions.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey on 284 SMEs in Italy was conducted and data were analyzed with regression models for testing seven hypotheses on the environmental influence on the development of ICT-based capabilities and the role played by firm size.

Findings

The results show that the environment influences the development of such capabilities in a different way, depending on size. Within munificent environments, ICT-based capabilities are more diffused among larger SMEs, whereas under environmental complexity, this pattern is inverted, with larger SMEs exhibiting a more limited deployment of ICT in support of both their internally and externally oriented processes. Under environmental dynamism medium-sized firms tend to develop more internally oriented ICT capabilities, but fail in reporting superior capabilities for managing external relationships.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to understand the relationship between the environment and ICT investments in SMEs. Since the combined effect of size and the competitive environment may influence considerably the ICT investments in SMEs, this study investigates the organizational responses with respect to how SMEs use ICT to address their external environment. This focus provides a contribution to understand the challenges that SMEs are facing in the current technological and market environment, where changes in the ICT paradigm raise the level of complexity and dynamism and bring changes in competition levels that leave few resources for growth to SMEs.

Details

Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0398

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 5 December 2016

Elisabetta Raguseo, Luca Gastaldi and Paolo Neirotti

This paper explores smart work (SW), a work practice characterized by spatial and temporal flexibility, supported by technological tools, and that provides all employees…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores smart work (SW), a work practice characterized by spatial and temporal flexibility, supported by technological tools, and that provides all employees of an organization with the best working conditions to accomplish their tasks. Specifically, the purpose of this paper is to identify whether firms adopt different SW models, explore complementarities between the factors that can lead to choose a SW model, and figure out whether contingent variables matters in the implementation of a particular SW model.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on: a survey delivered in 2013 to 100 Human Resources directors of medium and large Italian organizations to collect preliminary evidence on SW; and four embedded case studies based on 49 semi-structured interviews to better explain the findings achieved in the quantitative analysis.

Findings

Four SW models can be chosen by companies. They are named inconsistent, analogical, digital and complete SW. They are different according to investments in the enabling digital technologies, in trans-formations of the organizational policies and in workspace settings, according the contingent conditions where firms operate. Results show that there are complementarities between the elements that characterize a SW model and that at least two elements are developed in each SW model. In case all the three elements are developed, companies achieve higher labour productivity.

Originality/value

The paper unpacks the elements that can generate SW environments by deepening the complementarities that can be exploited among information and communication technologies, work place and work practice innovation, and by evaluating their development on employees’ performance.

Details

Evidence-based HRM: a Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-3983

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Teresina Torre and Daria Sarti

This chapter aims to build a systematization of the current theoretical and empirical academic contributions on smart working (SW) in the organization studies domain and…

Abstract

This chapter aims to build a systematization of the current theoretical and empirical academic contributions on smart working (SW) in the organization studies domain and to examine which are the main paths that researchers are concerning themselves with, with specific attention being paid to the new meaning that the work itself has acquired in the model proposed by SW. Particular consideration is devoted to an analysis of the characteristics of the present debate on this construct and the meaning of SW, identifying two different – and contrasting – approaches: one considers it as a totally new concept; the other is notable for its continuity with previous arrangements such as telework. Further, some relevant concepts, strictly related to that of SW in working environments are considered. In the last part of the chapter, some key points for further research are proposed to create stimuli for discussion in the community of organization studies and HRM scholars and among practitioners, given from the perspective of deepening the change in progress, the relevance for which there is general consensus.

Details

HRM 4.0 For Human-Centered Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-535-2

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 7 September 2015

Elisabetta Raguseo, Emilio Paolucci and Paolo Neirotti

The purpose of this paper is to understand the contextual conditions under which mobile forms of work are chosen by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the most…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the contextual conditions under which mobile forms of work are chosen by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the most relevant tensions that these firms should be able to face in order to be successful in the adoption of these forms of work.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey analysis on 304 SMEs and an analysis of a collection of case studies were conducted to answer to the following research questions: what is the role of contextual conditions in shaping the way firms develop and use their mobile forms of work? Which tensions do SMEs need to manage when adopt a particular mobile form of work?

Findings

In this paper, the authors found that SMEs choose different mobile forms of work according to the conditions under which they operate. For example, SMEs that adopt mobile forms of work for operational reasons are more capable of using IT to improve their external orientation. Moreover, the analysis of the configurations of mobile forms of work led to classify in a systematic way the managerial and organizational tensions, and to identify which tensions need to be managed in each mobile work configuration. For example, firms that adopt mobile work given individual employee requests need to manage human resource management tensions.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should analyse in depth the jobs that are frequently engaged in mobility and the operational and strategic reasons of their mobility. Moreover, future research should analyse more in-depth companies’ capability of managing tensions discussed in this paper.

Practical implications

Managers should understand that mobile work is an essential element in the organizational strategy of SMEs, since it is a way to manage more effectively externally oriented business processes. Also policy makers should provide financial support for programmes aimed at promoting the importance of mobile forms of work, since they allow achieving different objectives and saving. Further, demand-oriented policies and experiences about mobile work adoption should be shared.

Originality/value

The authors found scant empirical evidence on understanding the contextual conditions under which SMEs choose different mobile forms of work, and the most relevant tensions that SMEs should deal with when they decide for the adoption of a particular mobile work configuration. The value of this paper consists in filling this research gap.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Design/methodology/approach

This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the articles in context.

Findings

This paper explores smart work (SW), a work practice characterized by spatial and temporal flexibility, supported by technological tools, and that provides all employees of an organization with the best working conditions to accomplish their tasks. Four SW models can be chosen by companies. They are named inconsistent, analogical, digital, and complete SW. They are different according to investments in enabling digital technologies, in transformations of the organizational policies, and in workspace settings, according to the contingent conditions where firms operate. Results show that there are complementarities between the elements that characterize an SW model and that at least two elements are developed in each SW model. In case all the three elements are developed, companies achieve higher labor productivity.

Practical implications

The paper provides strategic insights and practical thinking that have influenced some of the world’s leading organizations.

Originality/value

The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.

Details

Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-0734

Keywords

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