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Applying quality cost techniques within an organization can be verydifficult, and problems may arise at any stage from planning theprogramme through to corrective action…
Applying quality cost techniques within an organization can be very difficult, and problems may arise at any stage from planning the programme through to corrective action. Seeks to illustrate the difficulties experienced with quality costs by two quality assurance managers working in very different total quality management (TQM) environments: Company A manufactures and assembles computers and is working at the forefront of advanced technologies, while Company B produces products used in the steel industry and is more representative of “traditional” industries. This part of the study was carried out between May and July 1993 and resulted in interviews with the quality managers to determine key problem areas. Broadly speaking, the difficulties identified can be categorized as: management, the quality assurance/accountancy interface, communications, internal systems, and people.
The delivery of assistance to SMEs, provided by enterprise councils at the local level, can vary between those bodies which are innovative and those which are pedestrian…
The delivery of assistance to SMEs, provided by enterprise councils at the local level, can vary between those bodies which are innovative and those which are pedestrian in their approach. Although it is generally accepted that most small firms in the UK sell to local markets, SMEs based within the Aberdeen area of Scotland play an important role in exporting and employment. The potential for birth and growth of firms exists in a number of targeted key sectors which aid the economic development of the Aberdeen area. However, assistance is required to bring people together in order to encourage networking, and this paper seeks to explore the process of facilitating an enterprise culture by examining the collaboration and partnership roles played by a LEC and a university in initiatives which foster enterprise. The relationship of the researchers and practitioners is similar to the model outlined by Oakey and Mukhtar where research and practice are used to inform each other, over time, to identify policy needs. The initiatives examined in this paper are the Entrepreneurs’ Club where established entrepreneurs mix with others at the new venture stage, and the Chrysalis Elite programme which links graduates with existing owner managers, creating a work‐based project involving groups of students. These links extend to the wider business community and organisations, including local entrepreneurs (who provide prizes and guidance), 3i and the Local Investors Network Company (LINC), who offer advice and opportunities. The main outcomes for policy in this paper are that collaboration between a LEC and a university can be very effective in assisting individuals or groups to meet the challenge of building entrepreneurial networks and that effective support can be provided for students to gain experience from the business community.
As market trends evolve and core business activities shift into new territories, there is a need for companies to facilitate a corresponding change in the skills base of…
As market trends evolve and core business activities shift into new territories, there is a need for companies to facilitate a corresponding change in the skills base of the workforce. This paper reports the findings of a European Social Fund (ESF) Objective 4 project, which was carried out throughout 1998/1999. Fourteen innovative, technology‐based small and medium‐sized enterprises were interviewed with the aim of investigating the processes currently in place to aid in the establishment of a skilled workforce, and the extent to which future skill requirements were identified. The research methodology involved a series of semi‐structured interviews with owner‐managers, managing directors and other staff within the sample companies. The first interview, involving 20 companies, allowed general company information to be collected and interviewees were questioned about business planning and those factors considered to be of strategic importance. The second interview, involving 14 of the original 20 companies, investigated human resource issues in depth. Respondents provided information about staff recruitment, retention and training and the extent to which these issues were integrated into strategic plans. The study used Investors in People (IiP) guidelines to identify potential models of best practice and therefore to aid in the production of the research questionnaire. It was found that the majority of respondent companies did not use a sophisticated approach to identify current and future staffing needs. Recruitment and staff development were addressed as and when required, thereby catering for immediate operational needs. Only three of the 14 companies had formal training plans in place, which integrated human resource plans with long‐term strategic business plans. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 23rd Institute for Small Business Affairs Policy and Research Conference, November 1999, Leeds, UK.
This paper seeks to illustrate and explore strategic issues from the perspective of the research team in designing, delivering and monitoring an education programme for…
This paper seeks to illustrate and explore strategic issues from the perspective of the research team in designing, delivering and monitoring an education programme for new technology based firms (NTBFs) which has been run successfully for the last two years by the Robert Gordon University. Findings from recent research, involving innovative NTBFs, have shown that these organisations may be struggling in a number of areas such as maintaining communication with their main customers and staff recruitment which relates to serious skill shortages. The model proposed in this paper of an effective management skills programme for NTBFs is one way forward in assisting owner/managers in developing and utilising their scarce resources effectively.
This paper presents the findings from an Objective 4 research project funded through the European Social Fund. A total of 60 innovative technology based SMEs in the…
This paper presents the findings from an Objective 4 research project funded through the European Social Fund. A total of 60 innovative technology based SMEs in the Aberdeen area agreed to take part in structured interviews which addressed a broad range of strategic issues. Information was gathered on the knowledge exchange practices utilised by these companies for example seminars, co‐operative working arrangements and in‐house training. Many other sources of learning such as project reviews, practical experience and brainstorming meetings were also discussed. Although the 60 companies taking part in this research have many processes in place which can aid organisational learning, it is unclear how conscious they are of the value of these processes. The sample companies are moving through a learning cycle, akin to that developed by Kolb, by reviewing and acting on learning experiences. However there are considerable differences in the time invested in this process. Few firms are translating their learning experiences into documented format to ensure that knowledge is available to all.
The relevance and importance of the high technology small firm sector to economies has been discussed by a number of authors and new technology‐based firms (NTBFs) have…
The relevance and importance of the high technology small firm sector to economies has been discussed by a number of authors and new technology‐based firms (NTBFs) have been viewed as having a very important role to play in job creation and as the seedbed of emerging industries. This paper illustrates the findings from a study involving 20 NTBFs based in the Aberdeen area of Scotland where small firms account for a large proportion of exports from the area. The methodology employed involved in‐depth interviews with owners, directors or senior managers. The sample was comprised of engineering companies, software developers, analytical services, instrumentation specialists and a biotech company. the strategic process was explored within each organisation and the difficulties that these NTBFs have in formulating strategies were identified. Questions were asked about relationships with stakeholders and the impacts of support mechanisms for the organisation in practice. Barriers to growth and development were identified and a model of the most important strategic issues was proposed which NTBFs could relate to. Key policy issues which the NTBFs consider important for their strategic growth included innovation, internationalisation, human resources and collaboration. Policy implications at the organisational, local and national levels are highlighted.
Business skills, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and technology (SET) and small firm development are becoming increasingly important. The vocational…
Business skills, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and technology (SET) and small firm development are becoming increasingly important. The vocational skills student learns can be augmented by an understanding of how business operates as well as an appreciation that enterprise skills can be applied within an organisation i.e. acting as an “intrapreneur”. Universities prepare students for many of the “professions” such as medicine, engineering, law and accountancy. Many other disciplines such as healthcare, social sciences and the sciences also require a professional attitude to be adopted. However, new graduates generally begin their post‐university career in a form of apprenticeship where their professional skills are developed, often via a pre‐registration period before achieving, for example, for engineers, chartered status. After that stage is reached, and with a few years work experience, they may move on to form practices or partnerships of their own. Based on the principle that business skills development, particularly in the SET disciplines, is likely to have a positive impact on the competitiveness of existing SET organisations, as well as encourage the creation of new, innovative knowledge firms, this paper aims to document the experience of introducing and embedding entrepreneurship education into vocational disciplines at Heriot‐Watt University, with a key objective being to provide a model which other institutions may find useful.
Provides an overview of UK public and private sector organisations’ use of performance information relating to service quality. While they have made some headway in…
Provides an overview of UK public and private sector organisations’ use of performance information relating to service quality. While they have made some headway in improving the range of performance information they have available, and in their use of such information, significant problems remain. These problems include those of: conceptual mis‐development; limitations in recognising the needs of different stakeholders for such information; data shortage difficulties; and both technical and analytical under‐development of practice. Assesses the outlook for development of greater understanding of service quality measurement and makes a number of suggestions for dealing with these problems.
Research has shown that employers in small businesses may not provide, or fund, off‐the‐job training for reasons including that they believe that no training was…
Research has shown that employers in small businesses may not provide, or fund, off‐the‐job training for reasons including that they believe that no training was considered necessary in their business. The research reported in this paper aims to focus on a study of software‐related companies that form part of an important sector for potential growth.
This article reports findings from a study of 20 software related small‐ to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs). The overall purpose of the research was to establish a model whereby companies within the cluster could identify the training and development needs of their employees, and also of their management team(s). Interviews were held with owner managers and senior staff, and a training needs analysis was conducted in each organisation.
A number of factors were hindering the development of managerial talent in the sample. These included their small size, a lack of resources and availability of personnel for release to undertake development programmes as well as a shortage of specialist human resource management (HRM) expertise.
This research contributes to the growing body of knowledge in the field of strategic human resource development in SMEs. However, the identification, understanding and development of knowledge capital are vital to compete within international markets and the knowledge economy. The approach suggested by the research provides a framework for improvement by identifying requirements for a “toolkit” that meets the needs of organisations and bridges the gap within the existing literature and empirical evidence.