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Title: Workplace Learning and Interaction between Individual Identity, Social Relations and Organizational Environment: A Comparative Study between Micro and Small Companies
Authors: Ku, Mui Sing Alice
Supervisors: Bishop, Daniel
Beck, Vanessa
Award date: 1-Aug-2012
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This study aims to investigate how individual identities, social relations and organizational strategies interact in the workplace learning of SMEs. The practices within the micro and small financial consulting companies in Hong Kong are compared. The influence of the owner-manager, learning culture, power and emotion on learning will also be investigated. A qualitative approach was adopted and semi-structured interviews accompanied with observation and document analysis were used. A total of thirty respondents from 2 small and 3 micro companies were involved in this study. All companies were subsidiary of two mother companies. Data from interviews, observation and documents was analyzed. An inclination towards formal learning at organization level was found. However, both formal and informal learning were seen as central to professional development. Multi- dimensional Identity evolved as career and life span change and this impacted on the learning behavior of respondents. Learning helped to build a better professional image. Learning also occurred when respondents participated within a community. The influence of the owner on learning within the firm changes with the formation process and company size. Small firms, with greater formalization and specialization use formal training more frequently than the micro firms. In particular, externally-provided formal training is used to supplement in-house training. Power distribution is affected by size and formation process. Also emotion affects learning from individual to company levels. Ultimately, the findings support the conclusion that the factors influencing the small firm's approach to learning are highly complex. Specifically, social relations at group level in combination with subjective individual dispositions and the structural organizational environment are implicated in orientating the small firm towards particular types of learning. Workplace learning cannot be properly understood without an appreciation of these multi-level influences and the interaction between them. Furthermore, the findings indicate that preferred modes of learning in some types of small firm may be of a more formal kind than the literature on learning in small firms has sometimes assumed.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: DSocSci
Rights: Copyright © the author, 2012
Appears in Collections:Theses, Centre for Labour Market Studies
Leicester Theses

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