Faculty of Business and Law
School of Management / Small and Medium Enterprise Research Centre
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop an understanding of factors that impinge on managerial decision-making processes regarding employee access to structured training and development (T&D) opportunities that are at least partially funded by the firm. Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews incorporating the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) were conducted with 14 managers of medium-sized enterprises based in Perth, Western Australia. The interviews explored decisions managers have actually made regarding employee access to T&D and yielded 42 useable critical incidents that served as the unit of analysis. Findings – There were three key findings: first, employee access to T&D was initiated primarily by managers; employees did not exhibit developmental proactivity. Regulatory requirements and performance deficits were the main factors triggering T&D. Second, decisions regarding employee access to T&D were influenced by a wider range of factors than the decision making factors that commonly feature in literature that discusses “barriers” to T&D in SMEs. Third, decision makers tended to neglect the evaluation phase of the decision making process and engaged in post-decisional justification. Research limitations/implications – The study holds a number of lessons that are based on an analysis of the authors' experiences of using the CIT. The lessons are potentially important for researchers who will be using the technique to study similar topics in the years ahead. Originality/value – This study addresses the lack of research into factors that affect managers' decisions when they consider providing employee access to firm-sponsored structured T&D opportunities. It also assesses the effectiveness of the CIT as a tool for studying managerial decision-making processes regarding employee access to T&D opportunities.