Higgins, David and Aspinall, Coral (2011) Learning to learn: A case for developing Small Firm Owner/Managers. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 18 (1). pp. 43-57. ISSN 1462-6004

Purpose: The paper seeks to contribute to the management development debate by providing insight on the dynamics of organisational learning and human interaction in the SME firm. The paper sets out to consider how a practice based perspective of knowledge is useful in this regard.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper is theoretical in its intent and adopts a social constructionist view of knowledge and learning. Using qualitative analysis the paper establishes a review of the current literature by highlighting the centrality of knowledge and learning.

Findings: Literature has suggested that critical aspects of learning within the SME firm are based around contextualised action, critical reflection and social interaction. A limited number of studies account for how practice is configured and influenced, in terms of value, uniqueness and scope of what is known, and how these influences can vary depending upon the contexts in which knowledge is being used, and potentially used.

Practical Implications: There is a strong recognition in many of the empirical studies of learning and its use in the SME firm, that knowledge is gained through practice as opposed to formal instruction. What current research does not reflect is the changing nature of knowledge research in the wider organisational community, which has focused its attention towards the situated nature of knowledgeable activity or knowing in practice.

Originality/Value: The paper argues that learning through practice, with its focus on real world issues and lived experiences, which are contextually embedded in the owner-manager's environment, may provide a better means of successfully developing practitioner focused owner/managers.

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