Helping SME bosses learn new skills and develop new strategies

Academic: Professor Richard Thorpe, Leeds University Business School

The demands of running a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) have never been greater. These businesses are the cornerstone of the economy - accounting for 95% of all businesses in the UK - but SME managers can find it difficult to step out of their daily routine to develop the management and leadership skills which could help their company to grow.

Research led by Professor Richard Thorpe has led to the development of new approaches to understanding how company bosses acquire new skills. These approaches have been shown to help fuel growth in SMEs and have helped to influence practice and policy.

This work has impacted three groups: (i) business education providers such as universities, colleges and training organisations, who have used the research to improve the training and education they provide for SMEs; (ii) SME owner-mangers who have been exposed to the research when attending business programmes and have used it to build on their entrepreneurial behaviour and improve their strategic planning; (iii) government, regional and sector policymakers, who have used the research in policies designed to generate growth in SMEs.

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