Contrasting Approaches to Preparedness: A Reflection on Two Case Studies

Contrasting Approaches to Preparedness: A Reflection on Two Case Studies

Lorraine Warren (University of Southampton, UK) and Ted Fuller (Lincoln University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-892-5.ch022
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Abstract

This chapter reflects on ongoing research in SMEs in the manufacturing and service sectors. It contrasts different approaches to the issue of preparedness from an organisational and social perspective, in two cases where new enterprise-wide business processes were implemented and integrated in different settings. In both cases, the emergence of new systems presented a huge challenge to companies hard-pressed to marshal the resources to mount effective change and implementation projects on this scale. The cases presented enable a comparison of different strategies used, one firm responding to organic growth, and the other to rapid industry-driven change. The chapter focuses not on the implementations per se, but instead on the issue of preparedness for change. The chapter concludes by drawing out general lessons concerning how to support and maintain organisational preparedness for enterprise wide change in different industry settings.
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Background

The first cluster of SMEs I worked with, although they were quite different in location and purpose, all had one thing in common: they were all relatively localised firms, experiencing fairly linear growth patterns, in relatively predictable sectors, that were yes, subject to change and competition, but by and large, the basic business models held true for quite long periods of time. What they seemed to be experiencing was growth in line with classical stage model theory, and as predicted by Greiner (1972), at a certain point, they were coming up against a ‘crisis of control’. Classical ‘stage models’ of growth for small firms, whilst they differ in their detail, identify a series of phases through which growing businesses progress, each presenting different managerial challenges. Stage models suggest that an appropriate response from the owner-manager (OM) is required if the firm is to grow effectively, or indeed to survive (Greiner 1972; Churchill & Lewis 1983; Scott & Bruce 1987).

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