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This research examines micro‐enterprises pursuing gradual growth. The research findings and implications are provided in two parts. Part 1 was presented in Volume 6…
This research examines micro‐enterprises pursuing gradual growth. The research findings and implications are provided in two parts. Part 1 was presented in Volume 6, Number 4 of the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development (JSBED) (Perren, 2000). It developed an empirically verified framework that explains how growth was influenced by a myriad interacting factors; this led to a discussion of the policy implications of the framework. Part 2 explores the managerial implications of the framework. A diagnostic toolkit is systematically developed to encourage micro‐enterprise owner‐managers and advisers to explore the influences on the interim growth drivers identified in part 1. It is hoped this will help them to highlight ways of “compensating” deficits in particular factors and to think creatively about growth opportunities. The audience has changed from academics and policy‐makers to owner‐managers, so the diagnostic toolkit avoids technical language and employs a Socratic questioning approach to encourage free‐thinking and self‐analysis.
Influential reports combined with media attention on directors’ remuneration has sparked academic and practitioner interest in the whole area of corporate governance. Cadbury’s suggestion to strengthen the independent governance role has led to particular interest in non‐executive directors (NEDs). More recently, the role of NEDs in the governance of small and medium‐size enterprises (SMEs) has started to generate attention, and a number of registers of NEDs are established. Indeed, the role of NEDs in SMEs received special attention in the recent Hampel report (1998). Until recently, only two papers directly addressed the role of NEDs in SMEs; both papers were by Mileham and used data obtained from a survey concerned with the role of NEDs carried out with Institute of Management members. This research made a useful contribution, but had a number of limitations. More recently, the increased interest in the role of NEDs in SMEs has sparked further research, but there is still a need for an overall picture of NED and mentor involvement in UK SMEs. The research in this paper addresses this need by presenting the results from a survey sent to 5,279 UK SMEs selected from the Yellow Pages Business Database. The questionnaire was designed to provide a general overview of NED and mentor involvement in SMEs and to allow the following questions to be answered: How many SMEs have NEDs, and are there any firm size patterns? Are there firm age patterns? Are there firm sector patterns? Does firm size influence the formality of NED procedures? What does the managing director believe NEDs add? Are firms with NEDs more successful than those without a NED? Does the profile of the managing director matter? Does a firm’s size influence NED involvement? How do firms acquire NEDs? Why do some SMEs not have NEDs? The paper presents these findings and explores the implications for SMEs and policy advisors.
This research examines micro‐enterprises pursuing gradual growth. While very little research has been targeted specifically at the growth of micro‐enterprises, there are a…
This research examines micro‐enterprises pursuing gradual growth. While very little research has been targeted specifically at the growth of micro‐enterprises, there are a host of possible influencing factors suggested by the rather broader small business literature. Less research has attempted to integrate the factors that influence growth of small firms into some form of model. Those models that were found had a number of shortfalls when it came to understanding the development of micro‐enterprises. A framework has been developed through this research that addresses these shortfalls. First, it has targeted specifically gradual growth micro‐enterprises; secondly, it is rigorously under‐pinned through empirical research; thirdly, it attempts to comprehensively cover the range of factors that influence development; fourthly, it focuses on the complex interaction of factors that may influence development. The research findings and implications are presented in two parts. Part 1 develops an empirically verified framework that explains how growth is influenced by a myriad of interacting factors. This leads to a discussion of the policy implications of the framework. Part 2 is presented in the next edition of the Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development (JSBED) and will explore the managerial implications of the framework. This will provide a diagnostic toolkit to help micro‐enterprise owner‐managers and advisers pursue growth. The paper is derived from research conducted initially for the submission of a PhD thesis at the University of Brighton (Perren, 1996).
Research and dissemination of the results has always been an important activity for those in the academic community. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has brought the…
Research and dissemination of the results has always been an important activity for those in the academic community. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has brought the whole area of research publication and dissemination into sharp relief, and striving for high research rankings seems, for some, to have become an end in itself. Some argue that the RAE has restricted the wider dissemination of research as academics focus on refereed journal articles to the detriment of other forms of output, eg professional articles, consultancy, books and practitioner conferences. The RAE has intensified interest in the purpose and process of publication in most discipline areas and has created considerable controversy regarding the status of different publication channels. The small business research area is no exception. This research provides a profile of the UK small business research community, it explores their perceptions regarding research and establishes the esteem that various publication channels are held. Defining precisely what constitutes the area of small business research is problematic. Indeed, providing a specific boundary would create a false precision, small business research overlaps with areas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, and it also draws upon a range of disciplines. Nevertheless, relative limits were placed on this research by the nature of the people who were asked to express their opinion and the questions they were asked. The attitudes were sought through a survey of active UK researchers (97 per cent of respondents had published in the area, 81 per cent were academics, 7 per cent were policy makers and 4 per cent business practitioners) listed on the Institute of Small Business Affairs/Small Business Research Trust database. The title and nature of these organisations suggests that those listed at least identify with the notion of small business research as an area. In addition, the questionnaire emphasised small business research throughout, and no mention was made of entrepreneurship, innovation or associated areas. Ninety‐eight questionnaires were returned, representing a 47 per cent response rate. The community was found to be more stable and mature than expected, but small business researchers held other research areas in greater esteem and most regarded themselves as empiricists rather than theorists. The implications of these results are explored for the next RAE and for the future of small business research.
This paper reflects upon issues raised in Lone Henriksen’s keynote address at the Ninth Annual Small Business and Enterprise Development Conference (the text of which is…
This paper reflects upon issues raised in Lone Henriksen’s keynote address at the Ninth Annual Small Business and Enterprise Development Conference (the text of which is included at the beginning of this issue of the journal). Her address provides thought‐provoking insights into the European Commission’s agenda for small firms and job creation. It is encouraging to find agreement between policy makers and academics that SMEs have an important role in generating new jobs and that a European policy is needed to provide coordination between member states while encouraging devolved responsibility through local tailored initiatives. The challenge that practitioners, policy makers and academics now face is finding the best way to help SMEs and the unemployed. Lone Henriksen’s address and the current literature provide a helpful springboard to reflect upon this challenge and to give some suggestions.
This paper draws upon policy‐based research that was conducted for the SBS South East to provide a meta‐review of academic literature that examines the role of e‐mentoring…
This paper draws upon policy‐based research that was conducted for the SBS South East to provide a meta‐review of academic literature that examines the role of e‐mentoring in entrepreneurial education and support. Four education and training relevant themes are explored: What is e‐mentoring in SMEs? How effective is e‐mentoring in SMEs? What examples are there of e‐mentoring in SMEs? What advice is there on introducing e‐mentoring for SMEs? The article concludes that current research falls short of a robust evaluation; nevertheless, by drawing upon a range of associated e‐mentoring research it has been possible to provide some helpful examples of practice and tentative advice on the introduction of such schemes.
Research into top management team (TMT) performance and consensus has been equivocal; furthermore, research into the role of non‐executive directors (NEDs) in UK SMEs…
Research into top management team (TMT) performance and consensus has been equivocal; furthermore, research into the role of non‐executive directors (NEDs) in UK SMEs concluded that multiple perceptions of “reality” exist between directors. By adopting an innovative methodological approach to analysis, the “black box” complexity of SME board information processes, perceptions and TMT relationships are made visible. This allows the tension caused by differing perceptions of the NED role on a small company TMT to be explored. The aim of this paper is to do this.
In an in‐depth case study of one SME board, four directors' information and perception differences are investigated using a combined Johari window and set theory framework.
Application of this innovative analytical framework allowed the information process and differing perceptions of multiple directors to be plotted systematically. This surfaces the normally hidden “generative mechanisms” underlying the “real domains” of the SME board processes by explaining why and how the directors choose to share and hide information about the NEDs' role. Surfacing the nature of this information sharing and hiding is at the heart of appreciating the process of precarious equilibrium that achieves a fragile cohesion within the TMT.
This study reveals the fragility of TMTs to the process of information sharing and hiding. It demonstrates the sensitivity of the group to perceptions of the NED role and the influence the NED can have on information processes within the group and potentially its cohesion. NEDs joining small company boards need to be sensitive to the existing informational asymmetries that may be vital to maintaining precarious equilibrium and cohesion. In their role they are likely to become the confidant of more than one director and thus nodal points of “secret” information. They need considerable interpersonal sensitivity and tact if they are to fulfil their role of challenging the directors without detrimentally disrupting the group dynamic.
This paper answers the call for more qualitative research to investigate the “lived experience” and “behavioural processes” of directors by adopting the combined Johari window and set theory framework. This analysis tool offers an innovative method that will be of value to other researchers and practitioners investigating TMT group dynamics. It provides a rare opportunity to understand the information process and perceptions of a small company TMT and the influence on the equilibrium and cohesion of the group.
Research into management information, control and decision‐making in small businesses appears on the surface to be contradictory. Some research suggests that small…
Research into management information, control and decision‐making in small businesses appears on the surface to be contradictory. Some research suggests that small businesses have little management information, poor control and that decision‐making is ad hoc. Other research suggests that small businesses acquire effective information and control through informal means, and that decision‐making can be sophisticated. This research addresses these apparent contradications by conducting a longitudinal, in‐depth exploration of the management information and decision‐making processes in four service sector businesses that have recently broken through the micro‐enterprise barrier. Multiple sources of evidence were used to construct a longitudinal history of information provision and decision‐making in each case. These included taped, oral, accounts of each owner‐manager’s life, focused semi‐structured interview questions and documentary evidence. The quality of the data has allowed a cross case causal network to be constructed which synthesises the evidence. This traces the chains of causality from the informal systems at the start of the businesses through to the later developments of more formal systems. This leads to a consideration of implications for small businesses, practitioners and policy makers.
This paper explores the relationship between 16 owner‐managers and other individuals preceding and during the start‐up of their businesses. Multiple sources of evidence…
This paper explores the relationship between 16 owner‐managers and other individuals preceding and during the start‐up of their businesses. Multiple sources of evidence are used, including taped biographical accounts and semi‐structured interviews, in an endeavour to establish who is helped and who is harmed by these relationships. The relationships are explored before and after start‐up to trace the chains of causality which result in the helping and harming consequences for the businesses and individuals. Trust between the owner‐managers and other individuals is found to be at the core of the chains of causality. The relationship between owner‐managers and their ex‐employers emerges as being particularly significant and largely overlooked by existing research. Managerial and policy implications are explored. This leads to a discussion of the morality of harming in order to support the development of the emergent firm.