Sub-theme 54: Managing New Management Initiatives in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Opportunities and Challenges [cancelled]


Call for Papers

Debate and discussion regarding New Management Initiatives (NMIs) is often based on the experiences and issues facing large organizations and so this sub-theme will examine their relevance for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The ‘Good Organization’ is claimed to produce profit, efficiency and competitiveness but also jobs, health and meaning for individuals. How is this tension between economics and employee/management well-being played out in relation to NMIs in SMEs? Much, of course, depends on context (Edwards et al., 2006), linked to the style of management SMEs adopt, which scholars have identified as ranging from autocratic, paternal to more participative (Edwards et al., 2006; Goss, 1991; Jones, 2003; Rainnie, 1989; Ram, 1994). This leads to a concern with how different tensions are played out in relation to disparate NMIs in diverse SME contexts.
Although SMEs have introduced New Management Initiatives (NMIs) such as Total Quality Management (Chileshe, 2007; Goh & Ridgway, 1994; Kumar & Antony, 2008); Excellence (Hewitt, 1997); Lean Six Sigma (Antony et al., 2008; Kumar, 2007; Kumar et al., 2011), Corporate Social Responsibility (Worthington et al, 2006); Business Process Improvement (Siha & Saad, 2008), lean production (Achanga et al., 2006) and Knowledge Management (Pattison & Preece, 2013), we do not know whether these initiatives are primarily economic in focus or whether employee/management well-being is considered or a combination of both?
In terms of the nature of NMIs in SMEs, we have no sense of their spread and depth; their interrelationships; popularity or relative impact. We do not know whether SME managers adopt a simultaneous array of NMIs or adopt trends and fashions evident in larger organizations of taking up and dropping NMIs? We do not know whether SME managers absorb popular ideas and repackage them or fuse them together to create new interventions for SMEs. We do not know which ideas have dropped off the managerial radar; which are current; which are the most important or popular. Nor do we know which NMIs have been so assimilated into everyday practice that they are now part of SME management.
The following are examples of the type of ideas we would like to explore:

  • Where do the ideas underpinning NMIs in SMEs come from? Are they a product of entrepreneurs, consultants, business schools and education more generally, government, management gurus, previous work experiences, observations of larger organizations, the demands of customers or other organizations?
  • What are the most recent or current NMIs for SMEs?
  • What are the most important NMIs for SMEs in terms of increasing economic performance or employee/management well-being?
  • How do managers in SMEs translate NMIs through to implementation?
  • What tensions or struggles emerge in relation to the implementation and operation of NMIs?
  • Are NMIs resisted in SMEs and, if so, who resists and how do they resist? Are forms of resistance different in SMEs?
  • How do the experiences of SMEs introducing NMIs differ from those observed in larger organizations?
  • How do different organizational and employment relationship contexts impact upon the implementation and operation of NMIs in SMEs?
  • Do NMIs in SMEs prioritise employee/management well-being or economics?
  • How is the tension between economics and employee/management well-being played out in SMEs?
  • Can SMEs afford to be ‘good’ and can they afford not to be?

We invite papers from scholars from a range of theoretical perspectives who wish to engage with these questions. We are particularly interested in detailed qualitative or ethnographic research but theoretical/conceptual papers are also welcome, as are studies focused on the experiences of SMEs in a variety of sectors, industries and countries.


  • Achanga, P., Shehab, E., Rajkumar, R., & Nelder, G. (2006): “Critical Factors for Lean in implementation within SMEs.” Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 17 (4) 460–471.
  • Antony, J., Kumar, M., & Labib, A. (2008): “Gearing Six Sigma into UK Manufacturing SMEs: An Empirical Assessment of Critical Success Factors, Impediments and Viewpoints of Six Sigma Implementation in SMEs.” Journal of Operations Research Society, 59 (4), 482–493.
  • Chileshe, N. (2007): “Quality management concepts, principles, tools and philosophies: A valid methodology for deployment within UK construction-related SMEs.” Journal of Engineering Design Technology, 5 (1), 49–67.
  • Edwards, P., Ram, M., Gupta, S.S., & Tsai, C. (2006): “The Structuring of Working Relationships in Small Firms: Towards a Formal Framework.” Organization, 13 (5), 701–724.
  • Goh, P.L., & Ridgway, K. (1994): “The Implementation of Total Quality Management in Small and Medium-sized manufacturing companies.” The TQM Magazine, 6 (2), 54–60.
  • Goss, D. (1991): “In Search of the Small Firm Industrial Relations.” In: R. Burrows (ed.): Deciphering the Enterprise Culture: Entrepreneurship, Petty Capitalism and the Restructuring of Britain. London: Routledge, 152–175.
  • Hewitt, S. (1997): “Business Excellence – Does it work for small companies?” The TQM Magazine, 9 (1), 76–82.
  • Jones, O. (2003): “The Persistence of Autocratic Management in Small Firms.” International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 9 (6), 245–267.
  • Kumar, M. (2007): “Critical success factors and hurdles to Six Sigma implementation: The case of a UK manufacturing SME.” International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 3 (4), 333–351.
  • Kumar, M., Antony, J., & Tiwari, M.K. (2011): “Six Sigma implementation framework for SMEs – a roadmap to manage and sustain change.” International Journal of Production Research, 49 (18), 5449–5467.
  • Kumar, M., & Antony, J. (2008): “Comparing the quality management practices in UK SMEs.” Industrial Management and Data Systems, 108 (9), 1153–1166.
  • Pattison, S., & Preece, D. (2013): “Communities of Practice, knowledge acquisition and innovation: a case study of science-based SMEs.” Journal of Knowledge Management, 18 (1), 107–120.
  • Rainnie, A. (1989): Industrial Relations in Small Firms. London: Routledge.
  • Ram, M. (1994): Managing to Survive. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Siha, S.M., & Saad, G.H. (2008): “Business Process improvement: empirical assessment and extensions.” Business Process Management Journal, 14 (6), 778–802.
  • Worthington, I., Ram, M,. & Jones, T. (2006): “Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility in the UK Asian Small Business Community.” Journal of Business Ethics, 67, 201–217.