ANDERSON, V. and BOOCOCK, G., 2002. Small firms and internationalisation: learning to manage and managing to learn. Human Resource Management Journal, 12 (3), pp. 5-24.
Small firms contribute significantly to the UK economy, but most research into
learning and work features the experience of large organisations. This paper focuses
on learning and work in small organisations. An interpretive framework relating to
organisational learning is derived from the literature. Data on learning in small
organisations that internationalise are analysed to assess the extent to which models
of organisational learning are applicable to the context and challenges they face.
This paper suggests that the large firm model of learning is inappropriate. The
distinctive culture and communication systems of small firms require different
approaches to the acquisition, transmission and interpretation of knowledge. Tacit
knowledge, developed through informal learning, is a priority and learning through
local business networks is more important than participation in formal programmes.
Advocacy of HRD practices based on conventional theories of organisational
learning, therefore, may hinder rather than encourage performance in small