Researching SME performance

Recently I have been working on a PhD research proposal which requires lots of reading and time to reflect on the contents of industry reports and academic papers, in fact more than 120 to date.  Over the next three years I plan to establish a number of owner-manager networking groups in regional NSW to identify management and leadership practices that will improve business and personal performance. As an example some of the practices already identified from the literature review include:

  • Balanced scorecard planning
  • HR practices that promote empowerment, trust and engagement
  • Knowledge and information sharing based on integrated CRM platforms
  • Building processes based on TQM practices
  • Owner-manager development through action learning

Working in groups of 10 to 15 owner-managers we will explore these and other proven practices and apply them when appropriate in the individual businesses. Responsibility for any change will remain with the owner-manager, as well as ‘transferring’ the new skill and knowledge to their management team. So for you reader, here are a few interesting findings from my research to date without the full reference source and a non-academic use of the data in this brief summary:

  • Leadership development activity (or not) fail in over 50% of businesses
  • Over 40% of businesses (medium to large) fail to meet profit and ROI targets
  • Few businesses are prepared for digital disruption
  • The majority of owner-managers fail to develop effective learning programs and many are “strategically myopic”
  • Less than 10% of businesses are aware of the Australian Business Excellence Framework
  • The Investors in People standard has been proven to assist many UK businesses exceed 20% year on year growth targets
  • TQM and ISO9000 programs provide stability and the basis for continuous improvement
  • High employee engagement, significantly reduces losses and ensures that valuable knowledge is retained in the business
  • In any business the number of ‘accidental managers’ is likely to exceed 40%
  • More than 80% of SME owner-managers could improve their planning skills and better measure performance each monthly and quarter

In the final thesis the literature review will be 20,000 to 25,000 words. Currently it sits at 13,000 so there is still a way to go, rather like the opportunity to improve performance in any business.

If any of these summary points are of interest, or you would like a link to the source material, just connect. Good reading


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