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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1994

Hussein A. Abdullah and Chris R. Chatwin

The adoption of integrated computer‐based manufacturing and managementtechniques by small, traditional engineering companies often representsan unaffordable and high risk…

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593

Abstract

The adoption of integrated computer‐based manufacturing and management techniques by small, traditional engineering companies often represents an unaffordable and high risk investment strategy in technology that is often not well understood by its recipients. Paradoxically, the opportunity for complete success in a small to medium‐sized enterprise (SME) is greater than in a large company which very often is incapable of full integration due to the divisions and inertia implicit in a large hierarchical organization. To derive full benefits from such an investment the company must possess a meticulous understanding of its market, fiscal environment, operations management, engineering and technological skills, manufacturing facilities and product range. It must adopt an appropriate implementation of CIM that does not debase previous ad hoc investments in what are often termed islands‐of‐automation or information technology. For success a well‐planned stepwise approach is vital. Reports on the approach adopted by a small to medium‐sized Scottish engineering company specializing in the production of mechanical actuation systems. Over a three‐year period the company embarked on a low‐cost, phased implementation of software and hardware systems that exploit a database to integrate its design, manufacturing the business operations. A major element in these systems is the distributed Command, Communication and Control (C3) environment which has transformed the effectiveness of operations. The company′s investments were based on a prudent assessment of its current and planned product range, existing and planned manufacturing facilities, the scale of its operations and business objectives.

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Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1995

Paul S. Wu, Tam Hon Yuen and Zhao Fuliang

Examines the research of integrated product design. Several designstrategies and methodologies have been proposed, yet none of them isparticularly suitable for small‐to

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1146

Abstract

Examines the research of integrated product design. Several design strategies and methodologies have been proposed, yet none of them is particularly suitable for small‐to medium‐sized enterprises. Develops strategies of integrated product design for small‐ to medium‐sized companies through the studies of the Hong Kong toy manufacturing industry. These include strategies for the product design, the assembly system design and computer‐aided tools. Uses a case study to illustrate some of the concepts of the integrated product design. Finally, discusses the application and limitations of the proposed integrated product design methodology.

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Integrated Manufacturing Systems, vol. 6 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-6061

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Article
Publication date: 18 July 2008

Lorenzo Zanni, Barbara Aquilani and Michela Magliacani

The purpose of this paper is to examine the performance evolution of enterprises in Italian industrial districts. In particular, economic performance indicators are…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the performance evolution of enterprises in Italian industrial districts. In particular, economic performance indicators are analysed for Arezzo goldsmith enterprises, to highlight: differences in the goldsmith local systems performances; the role played by firm size in the evolution trajectories; and the emergence of a medium‐sized nucleus of firms with better performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper first conducts a brief literature review on medium‐sized firms in Italian industrial districts. Then it examines the economic‐financial indicators of 183 Arezzo goldsmith firms to evaluate firm performance in comparative terms both with other Italian industrial districts and with firm size. Finally it focuses its attention on 15 medium‐sized firms or groups, carrying out a statistical analysis by organizational model comparing the aggregate data of the Arezzo goldsmith district.

Findings

The results regarding the Arezzo experience show: a reduction of competitive capabilities compared with other industrial districts; considerable difficulties for both small enterprises and the historical large firm leader; and the emergence of a medium‐sized firm nucleus which seems better able to manage a changing competitive environment.

Research limitations/implications

The main implication for researchers and SME (small to medium‐sized enterprises) consultants is that the selection process currently in play among Italian industrial districts and local enterprises appears to reward only certain entrepreneurial categories. Findings of this exploratory study need future research both at an inter‐industry level and with international comparative analysis.

Originality/value

Medium‐size firms represent a new area of research on SMEs. Empirical evidence supports the research hypothesis.

Details

EuroMed Journal of Business, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1450-2194

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2015

Helen Lingard, Michelle Turner and Sara Charlesworth

The purpose of this paper is to compare the quality of work-life experiences of workers in construction firms of differing sizes and explored the work conditions and…

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1436

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare the quality of work-life experiences of workers in construction firms of differing sizes and explored the work conditions and circumstances that impact upon the work-life experiences of workers in small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Australian construction industry.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected in two stages. First, data from a sub-set of construction industry workers were extracted from a large scale survey of workers in Victoria, Australia (the VicWAL survey). The survey measured work-life interference using the Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI). Next a subset of survey respondents was identified and interviewed to gain more detailed explanatory information and insight into work-life experiences.

Findings

The survey results indicated that respondents who reported working for a construction firm with between 16 and 99 employees reported significantly higher AWALI scores (indicating high work-life interference) than workers in organisations employing 15 or less or more than 100 workers. The follow-up interviews revealed that workers in small construction organisations were managed directly and personally by the business owner/manager and able to access informal work-life supports that were provided on an “as needs” basis. In comparison workers in medium-sized firms perceived higher levels of work pressure and an expectation that work would be prioritised over family life.

Research limitations/implications

The research shows that the findings of work-life balance research undertaken in large construction organisations cannot be generalised to SMEs. Organisation size should also be treated as an important variable in work-life balance research in construction.

Practical implications

The research suggests that a better understanding of how workers in SME construction firms experience work-life balance is important in the design and development of work-life balance programs. In particular the challenges faced by workers as companies grow from SMEs require careful consideration and management.

Originality/value

Previous research has focused on the work-life balance experiences of employees in large construction firms. Little was previously known about the experiences of workers in SME construction firms. The research provides new insight into the work-life experiences of construction workers in organisations of varying sizes.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 22 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2015

Graciela Corral de Zubielqui, Janice Jones, Pi-Shen Seet and Noel Lindsay

The purpose of this paper is to understand how and why small to medium enterprises (SMEs) access knowledge from external actors in general and from higher education…

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1687

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand how and why small to medium enterprises (SMEs) access knowledge from external actors in general and from higher education institutions (HEIs) in particular and what is the extent to which these knowledge access pathways affect SME innovativeness.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper involved both quantitative and qualitative approaches: a survey of 1,226 SMEs and a mini case study to follow-up on issues arising from the survey analysis. Survey data were analysed using both non-parametric and multivariate Poisson regression analysis. The case study was based on a medium-sized manufacturing firm in South Australia.

Findings

While there are significant differences between the micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, the evidence suggests that SMEs generally use “generic” university–industry knowledge transfer pathways (e.g. published research results) rather than university–industry links with high “relational” involvement. More significantly, the results indicate that SMEs are more likely to rely on organisations other than universities and related R&D enterprises for knowledge acquisition like clients/customers or suppliers. While collaboration is most likely to occur within the same state/territory, or Australia, many SMEs also collaborate internationally, usually as part of normal supplier–customer relationships, reinforcing knowledge acquisition from organisationally proximate partners. These findings are also supported by the case study.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited to surveying SMEs in one geographic (metropolitan) region in Australia. It also does not account for the different patterns of HEI–SME interactions in different industry sectors. There is also only one case study.

Originality/value

First, the research adds to the few field studies that have investigated accessing knowledge for innovation among SMEs. Specifically, the research contributes to an understanding of the heterogeneous roles that different actors play in facilitating knowledge access for improving innovative SMEs outcomes. Second, the research does not treat all SMEs similarly in terms of size effects but instead accounts for differing SME sizes and how this affects their selection of knowledge access pathways. Third, the research contributes to a small number of studies that attempt to understand how HEIs and SMEs can work better together in the context of a regional innovation system, especially one that is relatively less competitive to the larger economy.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 30 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2009

J. Rodney Turner, Ann Ledwith and John Kelly

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the economy, in terms of employment and their contribution to national wealth. A significant proportion of…

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17729

Abstract

Purpose

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the economy, in terms of employment and their contribution to national wealth. A significant proportion of that contribution comes from innovation. SMEs are also the engine for future growth in the economy. Project management has a role to play in managing that innovation and growth. The purpose of this paper is to find the extent to which SMEs use projects, project management and the tools of project management, and to determine what differences there are by size of company and industry.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was developed to examine the extent to which small firms carry out projects, the resources they employ, the way they measure project success and the tools and techniques that they use. The questionnaire was answered by 280 companies from a range of industries and sizes.

Findings

It is found that companies of all sizes spend roughly the same proportion of turnover on projects, but the smaller the company, the smaller their projects, the less they use project management and its tools. Surprisingly, hi‐tech companies spend less on projects than lo‐tech or service companies, but have larger projects and use project management to a greater extent. They also use the gadgets of project management to a greater extent.

Research limitations/implications

It is concluded that SMEs do require less‐bureaucratic versions of project management, perhaps with different tool sets than the more traditional versions designed for medium‐sized or large projects, and with different versions for medium, small and micro projects. For all firms, the important success factors are client consultation; planning, monitoring and control; and resource allocation are also identified.

Originality/value

The findings suggest the need for further research into the nature of those “lite” versions of project management designed for SMEs.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2013

Chien Hsing Wu, Shu‐Chen Kao and Hsin‐Hui Lin

The rapid growth of blogs over the Internet has gradually attracted the attention of enterprises that want to engage in business and develop their online communication…

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1412

Abstract

Purpose

The rapid growth of blogs over the Internet has gradually attracted the attention of enterprises that want to engage in business and develop their online communication channels for customer relationships. The study aims to develop and examine the determinants of enterprise blog (E‐Blog) adoption for the service industry. Organization size is used as a moderating factor to disclose its influence on the effects of the variables.

Design/methodology/approach

The research model of the empirical study integrates three composites: social exchange theory, innovation diffusion theory, and organization dynamics. For the results, data are analyzed by using factor analysis to derive the actual composites and structural equation model to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The main results show the following findings. First, social exchange via E‐Blog fosters enterprise reputation. Second, enterprises are doubtful whether they can build online relationships via E‐Blog with their customers and E‐Blog visitors. Third, virtual trust and the unknown virtual social structure are barriers for enterprises in using E‐Blog. Fourth, E‐Blog adopters are likely to be purpose‐sensitive as the numbers of blog type increase.

Practical implications

The research findings reveal that E‐Blog vendors and agents should emphasize reputation development to attract the attention of their customers (enterprises). In addition, small‐ to medium‐sized enterprises prefer the relative advantages and simplicity of E‐Blogging. In contrast, large enterprises are more concerned with competition pressure and market dynamics involved in the adoption attitude. These findings would be useful for E‐Blog service providers to analyze the requirements of their customers. In addition, E‐Blog vendors and agents should persuade enterprises adopting E‐Blog to ease competition pressure, particularly for large firms who have not adopted the technology. Finally, E‐Blog platforms and vendors should emphasize that E‐Blog can help increase reputation by attracting the attention of enterprises to adopt E‐Blogging.

Originality/value

In the virtual socialization process, the blog has been developing its own characteristics that are linked to social behaviour. This link explains social change and stability in cyberspace from the social psychology and sociology points of view. The research findings differ from those of previous research because early studies focused on individual Internet user blog participation without placing emphasis on the adoption intention of enterprises. The findings of this study will be helpful for both E‐Blog service providers and enterprises.

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2001

A.S.M. Tam, L.K. Chu and D. Sculli

Data flow analysis is used in a novel context for business process modelling. A framework is presented together with its enterprise modelling concepts and the associated…

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4042

Abstract

Data flow analysis is used in a novel context for business process modelling. A framework is presented together with its enterprise modelling concepts and the associated modelling tools. The framework was specifically developed for small‐ to medium‐sized industries. The strengths and weaknesses of the general data flow analysis approach are discussed in terms of its suitability for Hong Kong’s small‐ to medium‐sized industries. A case example is also presented to illustrate the methodology.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 101 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2006

Janice Jones

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the extent and nature of Vocational Education and Training (VET) vis‐à‐vis other forms of training in three size…

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705

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the extent and nature of Vocational Education and Training (VET) vis‐à‐vis other forms of training in three size categories of small‐tomedium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) from two industry sectors.

Design/methodology/approach

The longitudinal panel data employed in this paper are drawn from the Business Longitudinal Survey (BLS) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) over the four financial years 1994‐1995 to 1997‐1998.

Findings

The results indicate that less than half of the enterprises in the three‐size categories provide apprenticeship training and traineeships – and in the case of micro‐ and small business, VET in any other field for that matter ‐ or used any of the widely recognised providers of accredited VET. While there is a positive association between enterprise size and the implementation of VET, nonetheless, the results demonstrate that small business investment in structured VET is minimal. The results also show that significant size‐related and industry differences exist in training provision, methods, fields and providers in small business, with substantive differences occurring between small and medium‐sized firms.

Research limitations/implications

This paper relied upon a secondary data source, and is limited by the VET variables available in the BLS.

Practical implications

The findings in the paper indicate that, at the micro‐end of firm size, only the minority of firms provide training, suggesting that no matter what definition of VET is adopted, the majority of micro‐businesses do not provide training.

Originality/value

The paper focused exclusively on VET in SMEs in Australia, adding to the very few longitudinal inter‐industry studies conducted to date that have explicitly examined the nature and extent of VET relative to other forms of training in small business.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 48 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 25 May 2012

Rodney Turner, Ann Ledwith and John Kelly

The authors propose that small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) need simpler, more people‐focused forms of project management than traditionally used by larger…

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7423

Abstract

Purpose

The authors propose that small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) need simpler, more people‐focused forms of project management than traditionally used by larger organizations. The authors have undertaken this research to identify to what extent SMEs use project management and what are the key components used.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the results of the two previous stages of their research the authors formulate the three propositions about the use of project management in SMEs, which they test through a web‐based questionnaire.

Findings

More than 40 per cent of the turnover of small and micro‐sized companies is undertaken as projects, and in the first two years of their lives more than 60 per cent. People in these companies multi‐task, so these projects are managed by people for whom project management is not their first discipline. At a key stage of their development, SMEs undertake many projects managed by amateurs. A simplified version of project management should have requirements definition at its core, and practices for managing the work, duration and resources used. People focused methods which seek team member commitment are preferred.

Practical implications

The results should aid in the development of project management approaches for use by the non‐specialist project managers in SMEs. The authors have shown that different versions of project management may be required for micro‐sized and small companies (a micro‐lite version), and for medium‐sized companies (a lite version).

Originality/value

Project management theoreticians need to recognise that different versions of project management are required in different circumstances.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 50 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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