Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that action learning (AL) may provide a means of successfully developing small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs). Design/methodology/approach – The literature around SME learning suggests a number of processes are important for SME learning which similarity, it is argued, are encompassed in AL. AL may therefore offer a means of developing SME. This argument is then supported through the results of a longitudinal qualitative evaluation study conducted in the north‐west of England, which involved the use of AL in 100 SMEs. Findings – The paper finds that the discursive and critical reflection aspects of the set environment appeared to be of great utility and importance to the SMEs. Sets also had an optimum level of which helped them find “common ground”. Once common ground was established set members often continued to network and form alliances outside of the set environment. SME owner‐managers could discuss both personal and business. Finally, AL offered the opportunity to take time out of the business and “disengage” with the operational allowing them to become more strategic. Practical implications – In this paper both the literature review and the results of the evaluation suggest AL may offer a means of engaging SMEs in training, which is relevant and useful to them. AL offers a way for policy makers and support agencies to get involved with SME management development while retaining context and naturalistic conditions. Originality/value – This paper attempts to move beyond other articles which assess SME response to government initiatives, through examining the literature around SME learning and constructing a rationale which proposes that AL encompasses many of the learning processes suggested in the literature as effective for SME development.
Journal of European Industrial Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 2006
Keywords: Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Management development; Action learning; Public policy; Training needs; Networking
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera