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Training approaches in manufacturing SMEs: measuring the influence of ownership, structure and markets

Macpherson, Allan and Jayawarna, Dilani (2007) Training approaches in manufacturing SMEs: measuring the influence of ownership, structure and markets. ISSN 0040-0912

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Abstract

Purpose – This study aims to investigate the influence of a range of contingent factors that moderate the approaches to training in manufacturing SMEs. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on a regression analysis of data from a survey of 198 manufacturing SMEs. Findings – The findings suggest that there will be times when formal training is appropriate for SMEs. Dependent on size, product, market and organizational structures, formal training will be both required and/or encouraged by SME management. The challenge will be to understand specific organizational conditions, and to target the right type of intervention at a particular small firm based on its specific characteristics and needs. This will require a deeper understanding of the context and issues facing a specific firm. Practical implications – Because of the diversity of small firms' structures, product and market conditions and leadership and management approaches, generic support policies are unlikely to be effective. Research, management and policy instruments of training support will need to interact with, and be responsive to, the subtle distinctions of context that will moderate what is more appropriate, and more likely to be welcomed, in the small business sector. There does appear to be a demand for formal training in certain types of firms, but other learning initiatives will have to be supported where formal training is not appropriate or not welcome. Originality/value – The empirical analysis and the tentative conceptual framework make an important contribution towards a demand-led policy framework in the area of development and training support for SMEs.

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