International Handbook of Entrepreneurship and HRM
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International Handbook of Entrepreneurship and HRM

Edited by Rowena Barrett and Susan Mayson

This invaluable reference tool has been designed in response to the growing recognition that too little is known about the intersection between entrepreneurship and human resource management. Paying particular attention to the ‘people’ side of venture emergence and development, it offers unique insights into the role that human resource management (HRM) plays in small and entrepreneurial firms.
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Chapter 15: Small Firms’ Strategic Stickiness and the Impact of State Interventions

Robert Blackburn and David Smallbone


15 Small firms’ strategic stickiness and the impact of state interventions Robert Blackburn and David Smallbone Introduction In this chapter we will explore how the motivations and ‘world perspectives’ of small firm owner–managers, combined with their various market positions, affect the ways in which they respond to externally-imposed state interventions. Our argument is that external interventions are more often met with resistance rather than acceptance although there is some variation. The factors underlying their responses are many, including sector, resource availability and business objectives, but in the main they are inextricably linked with the motivation of the small firm owner–manager. A number of key studies have helped unpack the so-called ‘real world’ of business owners, drawing on psychological and sociological literature. These analyses often present them as having a strong ‘internal locus of control’ with risk-taking propensities and a strong need for independence (Chell, 1991). These factors combine to create what we call ‘strategic stickiness’ – that is a drive for stability rather than change and a reluctance of owner–managers to readily embrace externally-imposed changes. Such a strategic orientation tends to engender ‘steady state’ conditions in small firms, and resistance rather than radical or even step changes in the firm’s mission or ways of working. This perspective provides the context for considering a variety of state interventions for small firms, but is particularly applicable in the case of state regulations. For many small firm owner– managers, state regulations represent a veil of interference and a distraction from...

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