Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2009/3: Managerial learning and development in small firms: implications based on observations of managerial

Jonas Gabrielsson () and Tell Joakim
Additional contact information
Jonas Gabrielsson: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: PO Box 117, Sölvegatan 16, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Tell Joakim: CTIM, Halmstad University, Postal: Sweden

Abstract: In this study we set out to examine the conditions for managerial learning in small firms and the implications it gives for how to facilitate and support work-based management development in this context. Empirically, we conduct structured observations of the daily work activities performed by small business managers. A framework based on experiential learning theory is developed and used as an analytical tool to assess the extent to which these work activities provide them with opportunities for work-based learning and development. In short, the results show that small business managers experience a fragmented working day with frequent and different forms of interruptions and unexpected problems during the course of their working day. These interruptions and unexpected problems are something that leaves little time for engaging in reflective observation to effectively learn from their daily work practices. We discuss the implications of our results for theory and research on managerial learning in small firms as well as for the design of university-led management development programs aimed at supporting the experiential learning process of small business managers.

Keywords: academic Experiential learning; managerial learning; managerial work; management development; small firms; structured observations

JEL-codes: O30

38 pages, March 1, 2009

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