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Understanding People Management in Small and Medium Enterprises: An Entrepreneurial Learning Perspective

Dahwa, Charles (2019) Understanding People Management in Small and Medium Enterprises: An Entrepreneurial Learning Perspective. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis unravels how owner managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) draw on their entrepreneurial learning to acquire and generate knowledge to manage people. Despite increasing scholarly inquiries, we still do not know much about how SME owner managers approach people issues. Further, while evidence suggest entrepreneurs acquire knowledge via entrepreneurial learning, the possibility of people management in SMEs being underpinned by entrepreneurial learning has not been explored. Given in the UK, 99% of private sector firms are SMEs and the association between effective human capital management and productivity, then comprehensive knowledge about how SMEs manage people becomes crucial, for it improves policy and private sector SME interventions, ultimately increasing chances to spur economic performance. Underpinned by the interpretivist social constructionist epistemology, the study used an adapted cconstructivism grounded theory strategy and explored people management lived experiences of 30 SME owner managers and makes several contributions to knowledge. Through developing an original and innovative Entrepreneurial Learning-End Goal Theory, the thesis provides fresh evidence about how SME owner managers draw on their entrepreneurial learning to acquire, generate and utilize knowledge to manage people. By identifying seven novel people management typologies, the thesis deepens our understanding about the contextualized and nuanced multiple realities of people management in SMEs. Further, we now know much better how SME owner managers’ motivations, values, life histories and especially end-goals are key drivers for the forming, fostering, and transitioning of people management views and approaches in SMEs. The thesis also offers new insights into how SME owner managers vacillates from an informal to a formal people management approach as well as clarifying how and why SME owner managers often struggle with people issues. Finally, the thesis reinforces the importance of focusing on SME owner managers to enhance our understanding about people management in SMEs.

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