Purpose – The context of Hong Kong has nurtured numerous small‐ and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) in which the owner/managers have exhibited rather consistent set of characteristics over decades despite shifts in the industrial structure. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how such characteristics can sustain in different industrial environments. Design/methodology/approach – By using the competency approach on a sample of 153 SME owner/managers in the wholesale trade and IT services industries, we conducted hypothesis testing on comparing first, the overall rankings of ten competency areas for SME owner/managers, and second, the ratings of individual competency areas between the two industries. Findings – While there are consistent patterns of competencies across these two contrasting industries in Hong Kong, the owner/managers in IT services industry have significantly higher ratings in innovative, strategic and learning competencies than those in the wholesale trade industry. Research limitations/implications – Entrepreneurial competencies are not only stimulated or sharpened by the requirements of different industrial environments, but also rooted in the common socio‐cultural background of the owner/managers. Practical implications – With the ever closer economic and socio‐cultural integration with China, a completely new pattern of entrepreneurial competencies may be required in a new context of entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. Originality/value – The application of the competency approach allows us to investigate the respective impacts of industrial and socio‐cultural factors in the development of entrepreneurial characteristics, particularly those about Chinese SME owner/managers in Hong Kong.
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
Keywords: Business environment; Entrepreneurs; Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Hong Kong
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