Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type

Conference Paper


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Irish Academy of Management Conference, Waterford. (July 2021)


Purpose The development of managerial skills is an important priority for small and medium sized firm globally yet we have few insights about the predictors and types of management development (MD) activities in SMEs. To date studies of MD have not sufficiently differentiated between small and medium sized firms. In this paper we investigate the impact of three sets of predictors (contextual, technology and innovation activities, behavioural and skill) on six dimensions of MD (formal internal development, formal internal with an external expert, formal external development, one-to-one MD activities, budget for MD and experiential focused MD).

Design/methodology/approach Survey of 360 SMEs in Ireland involving 401 manager and owner managers in small and medium sized firms. Findings Our findings reveal that firm size is an important predictor of the six dimensions of MD investigated in this study. We also found that in terms of the different categories of predictors dimensions of the SME technological and innovation capacity explained differences between small and medium sized firm such as technologically improved product/service, changes existing products and services and process innovation. We also found the age of the firm, the existence of a clearly articulated business strategy and formal strategic planning approaches were significant.

Research / practical / policy implications Overall our findings highlight significant differences between small and medium firms which have important research and policy implications. Management development is a government priority for supporting Irish SMEs. We address a fundamental problem providing insight into predictors of management development activities. Originality/value This is a large survey of SMEs in the Republic of Ireland. The findings have important theoretical and policy implications.



DG-REFORM of the European Commission

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.