Outcomes and Perspectives
Chapter 14: Factors Associated with the Performance of UK SMEs: Are they Country Specific?
Graham Hall and Ana Paula Silva There is not as yet a strong tradition within research into businesses of attempting to establish the strength of possible influences on their performance. Writers and consultants on business matters have far less scope for drawing on the results of large-scale empirical studies than has the medical profession, though arguably there are close parallels between improving the health of companies and of people. An alibi for not conducting such studies of those aberrant companies with over 100 employees is provided by their limited number (in the UK they represent only one per cent of the total population of businesses), by their complexity and by their diversity. The great majority of firms, however, are not so complex or diverse that their amenability to large-scale statistical studies should be rejected out of hand. It might be asking for too much of such a young discipline as business studies that consensuses should have emerged. There are no unambiguous ‘give up smoking’ lessons to be drawn from the body of empirical research. It might have been hoped that at least the battle-lines would be clear. Sometimes this is the case with respect to the importance of a specific possible influence on performance, for example formal planning (Robinson and Pearce, 1983; Ackelsberg and Arlow, 1985; Orpen, 1985; Shuman et al., 1985; Bracker and Pearson, 1986; Bracker et al., 1988; Cragg and King, 1988; Pelham and Clayson, 1988; Carland et al., 1989; and Shrader et al., 1989) and, even more...
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