Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

European Journal of Training and Development


Emerald Publishing


School of Business and Law




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of: Susomrith, P., Coetzer, A., & Ampofo, E. (2019). Training and development in small professional services firms. European Journal of Training and Development, 43(5/6), 517-535. Original publication available here

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.



This paper aims to examine whether participation in training and development (T&D) events is associated with employees’ affective commitment and propensity to enact innovative behaviours in small professional services firms. The study also investigates associations between both attitudes towards T&D and policy and practice supportive of T&D and levels of participation in T&D events.


Data from 203 employees in small professional services firms employing 50 or fewer staff were analysed using regression analysis and PROCESS macro.


Only policy and practice supportive of T&D was associated with participation levels. Participation in T&D events was positively related to affective commitment. Furthermore, employees who participated in more T&D events were more likely to enact innovative behaviours, while affective commitment mediated the positive relationship between number of T&D events attended and innovative behaviours. Contrary to expectations, neither participation in just training nor participation in just development was associated with either attitudes or behaviours.

Practical implications

The findings have important implications for small firms which tend to rely on wholly work-based experiences for the development of employees’ knowledge and skills. Such an approach to learning for work may inadvertently shape a workforce that lacks commitment to the organisation and that has a diminished capacity for innovative behaviours.


There is limited research on how T&D affects attitudes and behaviours in small firms. Large and small firms are fundamentally different, thus findings from studies in large firms may not extend to small firms.



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