Walton (1999:325) provided a succinct perspective on HRD in smaller firms. He argued that the attention that has been given to the analysis of training within SMEs has conflated the presence or absence of training with learning. He commented that the pre-occupation with training (perhaps a manifestation of the supply side perspective of government-funded and other small firm support initiatives) gives a ‘narrow and distorted view of the realities of both what is being learned and how it is being learned’. One of the main lessons from small firm HRD research is that a broader perspective is required in order to generate greater insight; too much of the emphasis for too long has been on a supplier-driven conception of learning (for example as formal taught courses). This narrowness of vision of small firm HRD is one that is shared by some researchers, managers and policy-makers and has constrained the growth of our understanding of the field and may overlook much of the most valuable learning that goes on in small firms.