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What do owner-managers in small firms really do?: Differences in managerial behavior in small and large organizations
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6476-2547
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Research (CIEL).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7139-7338
2004 (English)In: Small Enterprise Research: The Journal of SEAANZ, ISSN 1321-5906, Vol. 12, no 1, p. 57-70Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The research presented is a replication of Mintzberg's on managerial work. The article focuses on owner-managers in small manufacturing firms in an initial attempt to reveal the nature of the work undertaken by this type of managers. The purpose is to describe what they do and to compare their behaviour with that of managers in large and intermediate organizations as described by Mintzberg and Kurke & Aldrich. Our study compliments an earlier small-scale study on managerial behavior in small firms and includes sufficient data to test Mintzberg's propositions on managerial work. Empirically this paper draws on an observational study that deployed the method of structured observation. The daily activities of the small-firm owner-managers in our study are characterized by, among other things, informality and constant interruption as the process by which their work is organized. This differs partly from the results found in the studies of managers' work in larger organizations, where formal and planned activities serve more often as the procedure through which the managers design their work. Of Mintzberg's seven propositions, we found support for four, although with some hesitation. This calls into question the asserted generality of several such propositions. Our study indicates that there seem to be certain myths about what small-firm owner-managers really do, myths that need to be considered in future research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Caulfield East, Vic.: School of Accounting, Monash University , 2004. Vol. 12, no 1, p. 57-70
Keywords [en]
Managerial behavior, Leadership
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-332DOI: 10.5172/ser.12.1.57Local ID: 2082/634OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-332DiVA, id: diva2:237511
Available from: 2006-12-20 Created: 2006-12-20 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, HenrikTell, Joakim

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