Evaluating the use of action learning sets to facilitate continuing professional development: a pilot study with entrepreneurs and SME owners in North East England

Fenwick, John, Leonard, Paul and Waring, Teresa (2009) Evaluating the use of action learning sets to facilitate continuing professional development: a pilot study with entrepreneurs and SME owners in North East England. In: BMAF Annual Conference 2009: Engaging Employers, 28-29 April 2009, Cardiff, Wales.

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Abstract

The importance of SMEs to the UK economy is overwhelming. Organizations employing less than 250 people make up 99.8% of companies and account for 52% of turnover and 55.6% employment in the private sector (DTI, 2003). Within current economic conditions, it is imperative that the SME and entrepreneurship community is prepared for the future and is equipped to survive in a recession and develop their business thereafter.
There has been a focus in recent SME literature on management and leadership development(Morrison, 2003; Perren and Grant, 2001).However, SME owners and entrepreneurs might derive more benefit from a programme specifically tailored to their needs and stage of growth.

Research design and methods of data collection and analysis or method of inquiry:
Newcastle Business School, funded by the Northern Leadership Academy, undertook a pilot study of North Eastern SMEs and their development needs. The research lasted six months during 2008 and adopted an Action Learning approach. Alongside a small group of peers, Action Learning establishes a link between reflecting on past events, making sense of actions and identifying new behaviours. Membership of a small group or ‘set’ provides participants with dedicated time and space to attend to this relationship between reflection and action (Brockbank and McGill 2006).
20 SME owner managers from varied backgrounds (including car dealership, PR, cleaning and media) were recruited to the pilot study. Initially, they met the facilitator to discuss needs, undertake some professional development and share experience. From this, a programme of CPD was developed for subsequent sessions. These were documented, and the data used to analyse learning needs of the group.

Main findings:
It was immediately apparent that the SME owner managers shared generic educational needs, including:
· Better knowledge of potential uses of IT and where to find reliable local support.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: N900 Others in Business and Administrative studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School > Corporate and Executive Development
Depositing User: Helen Pattison
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2012 09:00
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:06
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/8693

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