Human Resource Management Practices in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Unanswered Questions and Future Research Perspectives

By Heneman, Robert L.; Tansky, Judith W. et al. | Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Human Resource Management Practices in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Unanswered Questions and Future Research Perspectives


Heneman, Robert L., Tansky, Judith W., Camp, S. Michael, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice


A qualitative assessment is used to identify and describe the "gaps" between concerns entrepreneurs have about human resource management issues in growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the topics emphasized in the research literature on human resource practices in SMEs. Survey data from 156 young entrepreneurs, focus group data from 173 CEO/founders of fast-growth entrepreneurial firms, and 129 research articles were reviewed. Results revealed gaps and omissions in the literature, including the importance to entrepreneurs of developing high-potential employees that can perform multiple roles under various stages of organizational growth and the matching of people to the organizational culture. Recommended perspectives for future research are identified.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the U.S. economy. For example, of the 5,369,068 companies in the U.S. in 1995, 99.7% had fewer than 500 employees and 78.8% had fewer than 10 employees (USSBA, 1997). Even in larger firms (i.e., 500+ employees) entrepreneurial units (e.g., new product development teams) can be loosely construed as small businesses.

Given the importance of SME employees to the U.S. economy, it is disheartening to note that scant attention in the SME research literature is given to the study of human resource management practices. No matter where you look, in surveys (e.g., Hornsby & Kuratko, 1990), in reviews of the literature (e.g., Good, 1998), and in empirical studies (Heneman & Berkley, 1999), scholars are lamenting the dearth of information about human resource management practices in SMEs.

An equally important concern is the apparent mismatch between practitioner concerns regarding human resource practices and academic research. For example, a recent survey of 641 small business entrepreneurs identified labor shortages as their number one concern (National Federation of Independent Business, 1998). However, only a handful of research studies have ever been conducted on recruiting practices in SMEs (Heneman & Berkley, 1999). By comparison, literally hundreds of studies have been conducted on recruiting practices in large well-established organizations (Heneman, Heneman, & Judge, 1997).

The lack of information about human resources in SMEs is problematic for theory, research, and practice. Current human resource theory is often developed and tested in large organizations. As a result, little is known about the extent to which the theory extends to smaller entrepreneurial organizations. This is problematic given that a critical component of sound theory is the delineation of those circumstances, such as organizational size and structure, that serve as boundary conditions to the theory (Klimoski, 1991; Miner, 1980; Personnel Psychology, 1993).

In research, the size of the employer is with limited exceptions (e.g., executive compensation), often omitted in the study of human resource management practices. When size is used, it is most often only considered as a control variable. Given the observed differences in human resource practice effectiveness between employers of varying size (e.g., Deshpande & Golhar, 1994), it is clear that more attention should be given to the interaction between firm size and human resource practices. This is very difficult, however, absent sound theory and information on human resource practices in SMEs.

Because the theory, for the most part, does not extend to SMEs, the research that is used to test the theory and the limited insight derived from the research may not be relevant to the needs of practitioners. That is, human resource theory and the research being conducted may not be congruent with the actual human resource issues challenging SME practitioners in the field. Moreover, practitioners may be unaware of practical issues that they should be conscious of that can be identified and explained through academic research. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human Resource Management Practices in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Unanswered Questions and Future Research Perspectives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.