Higgins, David, Mirza, Mohammed and Drozynska, Anna (2013) Power, Politics & Learning: A social enactment of the SME Owner/Manager. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 20 (3). pp. 470-483. ISSN 1462-6004

Objectives: One of the key influencing elements in the SME on the learning process is that of the
owner/manager as a principle employee, having both the power and legitimacy to influence firm
practices. The paper’s perspective is connected to the belief that learning stems from the
participation of individuals in complex social activities, by recognising that power relations can
directly mediate the interpretative ideologies within social interactions.
Prior Work: Social interactions represent the manner owner/managers ability to influence and
shape their experience of learning, but it is at this juncture that research is lacking, in that the issues
of power and the relatedness issues of politics have rarely emerged as a focus for debate.
Approach: The paper argues that both power and politically-based social tensions provide the
mediating social artefacts which have the ability to shape and influence learning practices. The
inclusion of power and politics can help to explain why some SME owner/mangers are more
successful at learning.
Practical Implications: The paper seeks to draw attention to the social conflicts which are
experienced by owner/managers, in which they must overcome the inherent elements of situated
learning, such as the localisation of practice, and how this mediates and shapes learning.
Originality/Value: The paper aims to critically explore and contribute to the development of the
organisational learning debate in the context of the SME by providing an analysis of the influential
and meditational role played by power and politics in the firm’s learning.

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