Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Strategy

Business Students' Perceptions of Employment in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises versus Multinational Corporations: Investigating the Moderating Effects of Academic Major, Gender, and Personality

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Strategy

Business Students' Perceptions of Employment in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises versus Multinational Corporations: Investigating the Moderating Effects of Academic Major, Gender, and Personality

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Research suggests that students are likely to seek out employment opportunities within large organizations first and often view small businesses as a second choice (Teo & Poon, 1994; Moy & Lee, 2002). The purpose of this paper was to compare U.S. undergraduate business students' perceptions towards employment with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) and to determine if academic major, gender, or personality influenced these perceptions. The results indicated that accounting, finance, and marketing students preferred employment with MNCs, while the primary employment choice for management students was SMEs. In addition, males preferred employment with SMEs and females favored MNCs. No significant relationships were found between personality dimensions and employment preference. Findings did, however, indicate that several of job factors were significantly related to gender.

INTRODUCTION

Recent research by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy shows that more than 99 percent of all current employers are classified as small businesses, and they employ 51 percent of private-sector workers (SBA Office of Advocacy, May 2002). The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees. However, approximately 90 percent of these businesses employ less than 20 people, and around half have fewer than 5 employees (Perry, 2001).

Even though the number of small businesses operating the U.S. is much greater than that of large corporations, the majority of college students prefer to accept employment with a large firm upon graduation (Hollingsworth, Klatt & Zimmerer, 1974; Teo & Poon, 1994; Moy & Lee, 2002). The ability to attract key personnel is necessary in order to become a successful business of any size. The preference of college graduates to work for a large business over a small business is an obstacle that small businesses must be able to overcome in order to succeed.

While all businesses are faced with critical issues, small businesses are especially susceptible to closure because employees often lack the necessary skills and resources to ensure long term survival (Harris, Grubb & Hebert, 2005). Vesper (1990) suggests that employees in small businesses must possess capabilities in the areas of planning, product development, marketing, personnel management, general management, and finance. Other research has shown that managerial and technical incompetence are two of the most significant challenges facing small businesses (Robinson, 1982; Luke, Ventriss, Reed, & Reed, 1988; Zimmerer & Scarborough, 1998). Luke et al. (1988) argue that a lack of managerial and technical expertise is often the "missing link" that ensures small businesses get their products or service into the marketplace. It is paramount to the success of small businesses that they are able to attract and keep skilled employees to help manage and grow the enterprise.

The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in students' perceptions of employment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) versus large multinational corporations (MNCs) based on their academic major, gender, and personality type. Previous research has investigated student perceptions of employment with different sized organizations (Moy & Lee, 2002; Teo & Poon, 1994), but these studies have not investigated students' perceptions from the United States. This study will help determine what the perceptions of business undergraduates in the United States are towards employment preferences based on ten job factors identified by Teo and Poon (1994). It also explores the differences in perceptions towards small businesses that are held by students in different academic departments by using an undergraduate sample of students majoring in accounting, finance, management and marketing. Finally, the current research uses gender and personality as moderators to investigate the potential for other characteristics to influence students' perceptions of employment in small and large organizations. …

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