Small firms and internationalisation: learning to manage and managing to learn

2011-01-05T11:12:13Z (GMT) by Valerie Anderson Grahame Boocock
Small firms contribute significantly to the UK economy, but most research into learning and work features the experience of large organisations. This paper focuses on learning and work in small organisations. An interpretive framework relating to organisational learning is derived from the literature. Data on learning in small organisations that internationalise are analysed to assess the extent to which models of organisational learning are applicable to the context and challenges they face. This paper suggests that the large firm model of learning is inappropriate. The distinctive culture and communication systems of small firms require different approaches to the acquisition, transmission and interpretation of knowledge. Tacit knowledge, developed through informal learning, is a priority and learning through local business networks is more important than participation in formal programmes. Advocacy of HRD practices based on conventional theories of organisational learning, therefore, may hinder rather than encourage performance in small organisations.