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Chapter 20: Daily Learning, Job Design and Problem-Solving in SMEs
20 Daily learning, job design and problem-solving in SMEs Grahame Boocock, Kevin Daniels, Jane Glover and Julie Holland Introduction The emergence of innovative ﬁrms is the cornerstone of a competitive industrial society. Innovative ﬁrms are involved in the creation, development and introduction of new products and services, or new procedures or processes, for the beneﬁt of one or more of the stakeholders in an organization (Birchall et al., 1996) and such ﬁrms raise the threshold of technology and create the potential for increased productivity (Huntsman and Hoban, 1980). In the US, smaller ﬁrms have generally been more eﬀective contributors than large players in enhancing innovation (Bygrave and Timmons, 1992; Almus and Nerlinger, 1999), although it is important to keep a sense of perspective. Innovation in capital-intensive industries tends be located in large ﬁrms. However, the pace of economic and technical change in an increasingly global marketplace is breaking down established patterns of business and trade, creating opportunities for even the smallest and newest ﬁrms to enter overseas markets – these are the ‘born global ﬁrms’ or ‘instant internationals’ (McDougall and Oviatt, 2000). Opportunities for rapid expansion are available to entrepreneurial ﬁrms that seek to create wealth by meeting genuine needs in the marketplace (Becherer and Maurer, 1999). The ability to solve customers’ problems underpins small ﬁrm growth in a knowledge-driven global economy. Beaver (2002: p. 74, Example 5.4.) summarizes the principal strategic imperatives for growth as: concentrate on industries facing substantial technological or regulatory changes, especially those in the...
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