The relationship between small firm growth and HRM practices

Document Type

Book Chapter


Edward Elgar Publishing Limited


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Management




Barrett, R. , Mayson, S., & Warriner, N. (2010). The relationship between small firm growth and HRM practices. In Rowena Barrett and Susan Mayson (Eds.). International Handbook of Entrepreneurship and HRM (pp. 186-204). London: Edward Elgar Publishing. Available here.


In this chapter we explore the relationship between small firms' growth orientation, their business planning efforts and the role the owner plays and whether or not formal HRM practices are used. Formal HRM practices are assessed in terms of whether they are written down, regularly applied or assured to take place. We take on board Heneman et aI.'s (2000) suggestion that 'surveys of employer practices across SMEs [would] be [a] valuable addition to the strategic human resource management literature' (p. 23) and report the results of an online and paper survey of a sample of 1753 small firms (defined as those employing less than 20 people) in the state of Victoria (SE Australia), Our particular interest in this chapter, which is based on an analysis of 410 responses to the survey, is whether growth- oriented small firms adopt formal HRM practices, This research contributes to understanding whether more formal organizational systems and routines are more likely to be used (or not) to nurture human capital in growth-oriented small firms. Moreover by focusing on firm growth, this chapter, consistent with recent calls in the literature (see Baron, 2003; Barrett and Mayson, 2006; Katz et al., 2000; Tansky and Heneman, 2003), contributes to a better understanding of issues at the intersection of entrepreneurship and HRM research,





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