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An exploration of the leadership and innovation practices of growth and high growth SMEs, in Wales / GARY WALPOLE

Swansea University Author: GARY WALPOLE

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.57457

Abstract

This study explores the leadership and innovation practices of growth and high growth Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in Wales (a region of the UK). Developed economies are becoming dependent upon the SME service and manufacturing base in order to provide high levels of value added, high levels...

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Published: Swansea 2020
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Rich, Nick L.
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57457
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Abstract: This study explores the leadership and innovation practices of growth and high growth Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in Wales (a region of the UK). Developed economies are becoming dependent upon the SME service and manufacturing base in order to provide high levels of value added, high levels of employment and as sources of innovation. Contemporary leadership literature draws extensively from large company concepts of leadership and uses large scale quantitative survey instruments to test theories. However, SMEs are heterogenous in their production processes, innovativeness and productivity levels. The dearth of contemporary SME studies means that the long tail of UK productivity is poorly understood as studies of SMEs have failed to capture the different complex contexts within which leadership is practiced, not least the high growth setting. The researcher determined that theory building would be necessary in order to understand the contextually rich environment of high growth firms. A realist approach, using a cross comparative case study strategy, involving multiple phases of research was duly developed. Data was collected from leaders and their followers and was analysed using data displays (an accepted and legitimate research methodology in the social sciences). The findings of the phased study clearly indicate the importance of "place!#a dimension of leadership behaviour that has been underexplored. The researcher duly developed a model of high growth SME leadership from the empirical research and his initial conceptual model was developed during the structured literature review. The study concludes that SME leadership, whilst sharing some similarities with "big company theories$, is not adequately explained by such previous research. The key aspects of place mediated leadership incorporate leader$s personality traits, an appreciation of place mediators and the application of an idiosyncratic blend of elements of transformational, pragmatic and distributed leadership models. The resultant model is offered for theory testing to other researchers that are eager to understand the leadership and innovation practices of growth and high growth SMEs.
Item Description: A selection of third party content is redacted or is partially redacted from this thesis due to copyright restrictions.ORCiD identifier https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3438-8192
Keywords: SMEs, Small Businesses, Leadership, innovation, United Kingdom, High Growth Firms, ScaleUps, Small Business Growth
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences