Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

An Empirical Study of Small Business Organizations in Fiji Using a Competency-Based Framework

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

An Empirical Study of Small Business Organizations in Fiji Using a Competency-Based Framework

Article excerpt

The study involves the development and application of a competency-based framework in small businesses in Fiji. A survey approach was used in collecting the information for this study using face-to-face interviews with the owners/managers. The information collected was used to prepare 18 case studies of small businesses in Fiji. These case studies are the basis of our findings. The findings led to five strategies being proposed for possible consideration by small businesses for the improvement of their performance. The study concludes that small business managers in Fiji need to become more strategically oriented; implement business performance measures, manage risk and uncertainty; implement more sophisticated systems and procedures and become more aware of regulatory stipulations.

INTRODUCTION

Several authors have indicated that a strong small business sector encourages economic growth and increases employment (Fairbairn, 1988; Loucks, 1988; and Rauch and Frese, 2000) as they make a significant contribution to exports, R&.D expenditure, and yield many creative and innovative ideas. Yet, the strategic orientation and strategic behavior of small business firms is far less known. Many research data pertaining to small business are in the economic development, or the frequency of failures in business,

Strategic management of small business firms has been a topic of some controversy. One disagreement among scholars is whether strategic management is applicable in the same manner to small business as it is to big business. Another difference of opinion relates to whether small businesses do strategic planning at all. And when they claim they do, can that be termed as strategic planning in the sense that is generally understood.

According to Welsh and White (1981), a traditional assumption among managers has been that small businesses should use essentially the same management principles as big business but on a smaller scale. However, later approaches, such as that of Stonehouse and Pemberton (2002) make a fine distinction between strategic planning and the planning concerned with short-term analysis of a business, the attainment of short-term goals, and functional level planning. The latter is termed as business planning in contrast to strategic planning that is concerned with setting of long-term organizational objectives and the development and implementation of plans designed to achieve them.

The purpose of a 'business plan' is to define the business and explain in as much detail as possible how the venture will operate in the current environment. According to Hormozi et al. (2002), a business plan can be defined as operating a company on paper. No matter the size or stage of development, companies use business/strategic plans to improve internal operations and to describe and market the business to potential outside financiers. In a recent paper, Woods and Joyce (2003) have stressed this distinction as operational management and strategic management. Operational management is concerned with the ongoing activities of the business in relation to existing products or services and in respect of existing markets. Strategic management is concerned with future direction and success of business and may entail major changes in structure, staffing, systems and processes to support the strategy. This suggests that there is a need to ascertain how managers in small businesses formulate and implement their strategies and how successful their strategies have been in achieving organizational objectives.

RESEARCH CONTEXT

There is a wealth of research information on the attributes of success or failure in small business and entrepreneurship (for instance: Brueder et al., 1992; Venkataraman, 1997; and Baron, 2000). But most researches are from a context that has a large, experienced economy leading to a mature business environment and relatively stable political and social systems. The question, therefore, arises about their applicability in the context of small, unstable, and developing economies. …

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