The reality of management development in SMEs

Alan J. Coetzer, Edith Cowan University
Martina Battisti, NZ Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Tanya Jurado, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
Claire Massey, School of Management; The New Zealand Centre for SME Research, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

This article was originally published as: Coetzer, A. J., Battisti, M., Jurado, T., & Massey, C. (2011). The reality of management development in SMEs. Journal of Management and Organization, 17(3), 290-306. Original article available here


The literature suggests that improving the management skills of owner-managers of SMEs contributes to their survival and growth and that there is considerable scope for further improvement in skills. However, evidence suggests that current support for management development (MD) does not meet the needs of SMEs. Nevertheless, there have been few changes on the supply side with policy makers continuously being concerned about low take-up of training.This study contributes to an understanding of how existing MD activities in SMEs can be better supported. Using Mumford's (1987) typology of MD activities to classify our interview data, findings from interviews with 25 owner-managers suggest two approaches to providing learning support: (1) incorporate structured opportunities for individual reflection and reflection within groups; and (2) address participants' concerns about training and mentoring. These findings have implications for policy makers and are timely given the current economic situation, where previous patterns of growth are being challenged and new ways of supporting MD in SMEs need to be found.


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