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Managerial work in small firms: summarising what we know and sketching a research agenda
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6476-2547
2006 (English)In: International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, ISSN 1355-2554, E-ISSN 1758-6534, Vol. 12, no 5, p. 272-288Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the basic characteristics and qualities of managerial work in small firms.

Design/methodology/approach: The article draws on a summary and synthesis of five studies from the “managerial-work research tradition” that investigates the behaviour of top managers in small firms by means of direct observation. Studies are evaluated by using research on managers' jobs in general, and some needs as well as guidelines for future research on entrepreneurial and managerial work in small firms are suggested.

Findings: Managerial work in small firms is described by discussing: how managers divide their time between different activities; managerial interaction and communication, and the elements of managerial work in small firms. Three limitations of existing studies are identified: they are difficult to compare; they adopt a simplistic conception of the constituents of managers' jobs, and more specifically of the relation between the managing actor and the context in which he/she works; and they fail to recognise to the value of inductive analysis.

Research limitations/implications: Future studies of managerial work in small firms have much to gain by considering the development that has been taking place within general management theory and in the study of managers' jobs. This article contributes a first step towards bringing research on managers' jobs into the small-business research community.

Originality/value: The paper initiates a better understanding of the basics of managerial work in small firms, which has not previously been elaborated upon and is an important step in exploring the dynamics of small business management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Yorks, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2006. Vol. 12, no 5, p. 272-288
Keywords [en]
Management styles, Owner-managers, Small enterprises
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-276DOI: 10.1108/13552550610687646Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-33747486329Local ID: 2082/572OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-276DiVA, id: diva2:237455
Available from: 2006-11-27 Created: 2006-11-27 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Managerial work and learning in small firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managerial work and learning in small firms
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with how managerial work sets the agenda for managerial learning in small firms. Although studies of learning in organizations are numerous, research on managerial learning in the small-firm context is limited. In particular, our knowledge of managerial learning suffers from an insufficient understanding of what top managers in small firms do. The primary purpose of this thesis is to describe how the work of small-firm managers sets the agenda for managerial learning, and how their learning can be supported. Additionally, the thesis explores the use of so-called “Action Technologies” in supporting managerial learning in small firms.Drawing on an observational study of six owner-managers in small (17-43 employees) manufacturing firms, and a synthesis of earlier studies, this thesis shows that three features of managerial work shape managerial learning in small firms: The small firm’s top manager (i) operates in context with specific structural conditions that affect his/her behavior, (ii) have certain cognitive predispositions guiding his/her behavior, and (iii) have certain behavioral preferences directing his/her behavior.The main argument in this thesis is that managerial learning in small firms is made difficult due to features that make it hard to come to a point where learning (in terms of reflection and conceptualization) is given time and resources, as the manager has trouble in finding time for learning, and as learning risks to become low-priority. Learning is also difficult due to barriers related to the learning process: the work of the manager fosters a superficial learning orientation, makes it difficult to probe deeply into and to develop complicated understandings of issues at hand, and makes peer-learning rarely possible.Drawing on an action research project of managerial learning in four networks of small-firm owner-managers, the thesis also explores, in a concrete manner, how managerial learning might be supported in a way that circumvents the deficient situation for managerial learning in this kind of firm. More specifically, it seems that Action Technologies by their design constitute a learning context that supports the learning of the small-firm top manager by dissolving the barriers to learning identified above.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Gothenburg: Chalmers University of Technology, 2005. p. 69
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie, ISSN 0346-718X ; 2265
Keywords
Managerial learning, Managerial work, Managerial behavior, Owner-manager, Small firms, Direct observations
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-555 (URN)2082/896 (Local ID)91-7291-583-8 (ISBN)2082/896 (Archive number)2082/896 (OAI)
Public defence
(English)
Note

Original papers included. Paper III, "Managerial behavior in small firms - a critical analysis of evidence from observational studies" changed title to "Managerial work in small firms: summarising what we know and sketching a research agenda".

Available from: 2007-03-03 Created: 2007-03-03 Last updated: 2013-10-15Bibliographically approved

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Florén, Henrik

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