28th Annual SEAANZ Conference Papers

Conference papers

(ISBN: 978-0-9924200-2-4)

Conference Chair and Editor: Associate Professor Bernice Kotey, UNE Business School, University of New England.

Theme: Culture, HRM and Entrepreneurship

Trust - the essential element of early stage entrepreneurship

Melanie Ashleigh (University of Southampton) and Lorraine Warren (Massey University)

Early stage entrepreneurs must engage in social processes in conditions of uncertainty and risk; in whatever capacity interaction exists, the concept of trust is a vital ingredient that contributes to entrepreneurial success. The complexity of trust is amplified during incubation stages due to inherent risk and uncertainty. Little research has empirically examined how trust is used during incubation where novel resources are accessed and exchanged, often mediated by influential actors in the incubator. Furthermore, little is known about the ‘darkside’ of trust within this domain, which can impede progress. Negative effects of trust can emanate from high trust, resulting in a lack of monitoring one’s own and others needs and expectations. Or, when trust breaks down between actors and has to be repaired. This paper explores how trust is initially built, sometimes destroyed, and also repaired within and across several early stage start-up companies in their support context. 

Role of cultural differences in international small business development

Arnold Pabian, Felicjan Bylok and Robert Kuceba (Czestochowa University of Technology, Poland)

The paper presents the problem of cultural differences in international small business as exemplified by Poland and Australia. On the basis of research conducted by Hofstede, Hofstede, Minkov and Gesteland (2011), cultural similarities and differences between Poland and Australia have been identified and major cultural barriers to establishment and development of business relations between small enterprises located in those countries have been described. The paper contains also information and guidelines which can help Australian and Polish businesspeople overcome cultural differences and achieve success in domestic and international markets. Moreover, it has been shown that knowledge of Polish business culture has a broader context and can be used to build positive relations with enterprises in Eastern Europe.

The rhetoric & realities of HRM evolution in SME growth

Dasha Rouditser (VIC/TAS at AHS Hospitality) and Tui McKeown (Monash University)

This study examines factors influencing the evolution of formal Human Resource Management (HRM) practices within Australia’s Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. By integrating theoretical perspectives, including Organizational Life Cycle (OLC) literature and Mazzarol’s (2003) conceptual model, we found the realities of HRM formalization were largely influenced by owner manager’s background, perceptions and priorities. Where theory matched practice was in the finding that owners’ education and prior management experience did correlate with greater HRM formalization. However, the realities of external factors such as industry regulation, skill shortage and customer expectations influenced the actual HRM practices implemented. SMEs with later OLC dimensions demonstrated greater presence of HRM formalization and the timing of this formalization occurred much earlier than suggested in OLC literature. Practical implications are identified for owners, managers and HR managers working in SMEs.

Social and environmental practices of SMEs in a regional city of Australia

Parisa Salimazadeh, Jerry Courvisanos and Raveendranath Nayak (Federation University, Australia)

Global warming and unethical social behaviours are being attributed to commercial activities of businesses. While, large businesses have accepted the need to adopt sustainability, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have not paid enough attention to this issue in their management strategies. In addition SMEs are significant regional development agents; especially in Regional Australia where SMEs constitute approximately 95% of businesses in services and industry sectors. This research draws on the response of 233 SME owners/managers on social and environmental activities by which they respond to the sustainability challenge within the regional city of Ballarat. The results show that the SMEs are actively engaged in employee support and they tend to be close to the local community. However, despite being active in the areas of recycling, energy efficiency, and using environmentally friendly products, these SMEs showed an inability to grasp the strategic importance of overall ecologically sustainable policy and practice. Download presentation>>>

The influence of organisational context, culture and interpersonal affect on 360-degree ratings

Titus Ng (RMIT Graduate School of Business and Law)

There are currently around 170,000 Singaporean small and medium enterprises (SME) that employ 70% of the workforce. Though studies have shown that effective leadership is critical to success, the SMEs have so far not been able to develop enough effective leaders to support their growth. A 360-degree feedback survey was conducted for managers from two successful Singaporean SMEs as part of a longitudinal comparative case study investigating leadership development. Focused interviews were conducted together with the survey that provided insights to the effect of culture and interpersonal affect on the ratings. The findings reveal the limitations of sophisticated stereotyping based on current literature regarding culture and interpersonal effect, and that organizational context in SMEs seem to have a value trumping effect over cultural and institutional context. This paper also argues for a deeper understanding into organizational context, moving beyond the static aspects commonly used for categorization of organizations. Download presentation>>>

Theme: Micro-businesses and Independent Contractors (Freelancers)

Responding to the policy challenges of the changing nature of freelancing in the UK

Suneeta Johal (IPSE), George Anastasi (IPSE), Tui McKeown (Monash University) and Robyn Cochrane (Monash University)

Professional associations play an important role in democratic societies, especially where the interests of the parties being represented fall outside of the boundaries of traditional employment arrangements. This paper outlines the recent developments surrounding freelancing and self-employment in the UK and the deliberate strategies undertaken to evolve the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) formed in 1999 into the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) in 2014. The paper argues that freelancers are the smallest of small firms, and structured representation through a professional association provides the best way to ensure government regulation does not have a negative effect on the growth and management of freelance businesses. In particular, the paper champions a ‘research hub’ model for representative associations in this space, encouraging close collaboration with academics at a strategic level to drive the policy agenda.

Developing a conceptual framework for independent professionals

Patrician Leighton (University of New South Wales and IPAG Business School, France)

This paper is by way of being a tentative enquiry into how best to analyse and categorise a particular development - that of the rise of the independent professional (IPro). It explores in outline the nature of IPro working, be it for example, in journalism, medicine, various forms of consultancy, IT contracting or design work. A key focus of this paper is to explicitly acknowledge some of the many tensions and controversies around IPros, not least the difficulty in defining them for policy, regulatory and other purposes. One of the identified central tensions is how best to research, analyse and reflect on this way of working. From the issues investigated and discussion which follows, I suggest that perhaps the core challenge is determining whether they fit most appropriately into a business/entrepreneurship paradigm (as a ‘business of one’) or whether they are more accurately dealt with as a specialised part of the labour market. The paper reviews some existing research and literature, mainly drawn from the UK and EU, that appears of relevance and tests their appropriateness for being the natural academic ‘home’ for IPros and reaches some tentative conclusions.

Microbusiness owner-manager mindsets and the issue of growth

Ian Stone (Durham Business School, Durham University) and Paul Braidford (St Chad's College, Durham University)

While there is much research on SME growth, there is limited evidence on growth issues facing microbusinesses. Large-scale surveys in the UK show that obstacles to growth, and their effects, vary by size-band. We argue that a more detailed and nuanced analysis is needed to achieve an explanatory model capable of informing business development and policies to assist micro business growth. The paper’s focus is on the motivations and mindsets of owner-managers of very small businesses, rather than upon the businesses themselves. It explores the notion that microbusiness owners conceptualise various ‘barriers to growth’ differently to owners of larger firm: the former exaggerate their effects compared to owners of larger businesses, whose perceptions and mindsets have been affected as a result of their practical experience of growth. The paper uses a critical realist framework to analyse findings from focus groups and interviews with micro business owners and one-person businesses. Download presentation>>>

Early contractor involvement in Australia: Learnings from Transfield Services projects

Narelle Turner and Melina Riding (Transfield Services, Melbourne)

Early contractor involvement (ECI) commonly refers to the engagement between parties (project owner, designer and solution proponent) during the early stages of a project and involves scoping work, outcomes and stages. Originating in the areas of engineering, construction and project management, the application of ECI has recently been adopted by governments and public companies around the globe in an attempt to achieve better relationships and successful delivery. This paper reviews the key themes evident in the literature examining ECI and then adds an insider’s view to provide key insights about the successful application of ECI as experienced by a large Australian operations and maintenance contractor, Transfield Services. This matching of theory with application reveals the potential benefits and challenges that local industry has in applying ECI as a formal, structured approach and suggests ECI has much potential as a viable and interesting concept in the Australian market.

Theme: Family Business and Female Entrepreneurship

Family business: the experiences of copreneurial couples

Jo Bensemann (Massey University), John Sanders and Laura Galloway (Heriot-Watt University)

In this paper we investigate copreneurship in small firms in Scotland and New Zealand including the extent to which firms operated by copreneurs and firms with no spousal involvement vary in terms of business profile and networking. A mixed methods approach is used and we report that many businesses are built around lifestyle, integration of life stakeholders and the flexibility and standard of living afforded by copreneurship. There is evidence of perceived business advantage borne of running a firm with one’s spouse; however, the reality of self-employment sometimes means that pressures on both home and work life are increased. The close relationship between couples is seen as good for businesses and complementarity of skills between spouses perceived as a distinct advantage. Copreneurial firms are less likely to consider their relationships with government officials as important and relationships with external networks/contacts/stakeholders are rated as less important for copreneurs than for firms with no spousal involvement.

Towards an understanding of the enablers of female entrepreneurial ventures and success

Robyn Cochrane (Monash University)

Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ventures have been lauded as a driving force for innovation and economic prosperity and a considerable body of literature has addressed the concept of entrepreneurial intentions. Yet our current understanding of the enablers which assist individual entrepreneurs to move from the cognitive stage of “wanting it” to the behavioural stage of “doing it” through to entrepreneurial success is limited. In particular, knowledge is lacking in relation to the entrepreneurial intentions and experiences of females. Drawing on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), this paper presents a conceptual model which shows linkages between entrepreneur characteristics and traits, intentions, behaviours and entrepreneurial success. The model proposes enablers for entrepreneurialism at the individual-level (role models and support networks), business-level (professional advisors and networks), and institutional-level (government initiatives). The influence of the national context is also considered.

Family business continuity: Key factors and main practices

Lucio E. Dana (RMIT University), Kosmas X. Smyrnios (RMIT University) and Rui Bi (Charles Sturt University)

What do family businesses have to do to survive and thrive? This paper explores management and governance practices associated with family business multi-generational continuity - longer-term success and longevity encompassing both family harmony and firm performance - identified by the family business literature. It is based on a study in two parts that contributes a conceptualization of family business continuity in terms of 7 key factors and 35 main practices that can be used as a tool for understanding, explaining and, possibly, predicting the continuity or otherwise of family firms. In Part 1, a National Survey of Australian family business owner-managers (n=242) was undertaken to determine levels of awareness, acceptance, and implementation of those practices. In Part 2, data were analysed using SPSS for Windows and Partial Least Squares factor analysis establishing relevant construct validity. This research has important implications relating to the development and testing of a theoretical model of family business continuity.

Theme: Industry Development, Growth, Decline and Innovation

The Australian Manufacturing Mittelstand: an initial exploration

Shane Baker and Tim Mazzarol (University of Western Australia)

This paper examined the nature of the German Mittelstand and how it is defined within the academic and non-academic literature. In doing so, a brief history of the German Mittelstand provided a context for characteristics of this class of business, which are largely qualitative in nature, and which indicate that Mittelstand is not necessarily synonymous with small and medium enterprise (SME), however that may be defined. Nevertheless, a conceptual framework for an Australian Mittelstand is suggested, based to some degree on the size of the firm to differentiate between Kleiner and Größer Mittelstand. Several Australian manufacturing firms were identified which, based on the publicly available information, appear to qualify as Mittelstand. The paper endeavours to provide a starting point for the development of a working definition of an "Australian Mittelstand", to be used in future research aimed at the reinvigoration of the Australian manufacturing sector. Download presentation>>>

Management of a cluster as a network of cooperation for small and medium-sized enterprises in Poland

Felicjan Bylok, Arnold Pabian and Robert Kuceba (Czestochowa University, Poland)

The paper is a theoretical discussion on the role of clusters in strengthening the market position of small and medium-sized enterprises and an empirical presentation of the chosen aspects in managing clusters that consist of small and medium-sized enterprises in the majority of cases. The principal aim is the search for the answers to the following questions: What forms of management are adopted by clusters consisting of SMEs in Poland? Does the type of model of development of a cluster have an impact on the internal organizational processes? What role is played by the coordinator in the analysed clusters? Analysis of the processes of managing clusters consisting of SMEs was carried out. The methods of critical analysis of literature and desk research were executed. The paper presents the theoretical bases of this concept, namely by presenting clusters as network organizations in the modern-day economy, while also concentrating on the various approaches to defining a cluster and describing its models and types. Likewise, there is a detailed description of the problematic issues of management in clusters.

Counts of Australian businesses, including entries and exits, June 2010 to June 2014

Carmen Kong (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Over 95% of Australian businesses are small or medium enterprises (SMEs). Even so, information about where SMEs are located, industry overviews and survival rates is not always easy to come by. We look to present statistical insights into how SME counts have changed over the last four years. The Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits publication provides an extensive statistical overview of Australian businesses actively trading in the market sector. This presentation will use select information from the publication to paint a picture of small and medium enterprise representation in Australia. A key focus of the presentation will be to demonstrate how people can use the large amounts of data to research and generate data for their own business demographic needs. Through using data that is available to the public free of charge, we will provide some demonstrations of the type of research that people can undertake of their own.

Constraints to innovation in New Zealand: An exploratory study

Rebecca Whyte (Massey University)

This research explores factors that constrain innovation in New Zealand. An exploratory research methodology informed by innovation policy experts, industry leaders and SME business executives was adopted to understand the current state of the innovation system. A high functioning national innovation system is reliant on the diffusion of knowledge generated through science and research activities. The New Zealand innovation system has fragmented science and research components, and it lacks a mechanism to diffuse knowledge through many actors within the system. Policy makers are unable to articulate the full breadth of the system, which is signified by the finding that there is a complete absence of a map of the innovation system. Due to the economic growth that is required to achieve higher living standards for New Zealanders, adapting the innovation system model to ensure that it meets the needs of the companies that it aims to support is significant.

Affect as a predictor of innovative behaviour in entrepreneurship

Amanda Williamson and Martina Battisti (Massey University)

This paper theorises that innovation by entrepreneurs is influenced by affective activation and valence. State affect (moods and emotions) has a proven link with behavioural and cognitive performance, yet evidence on this issue is seemingly fragmented, and further lacking from the entrepreneurship and innovation literatures. This article utilises the circumplex model of affect to reconcile these inconsistencies. High activating affect, both positively (inspired, excited) and negatively (worried, tense) valanced, is expected to correlate strongly with entrepreneurs’ daily innovative behaviours. Furthermore, personality and affective depositions are argued to moderate the strength of this relationship. Additionally, the role that mood regulation via sleep quality plays as a construct between mood and innovative work behaviour is explored. This leads to practical implications for entrepreneurs. Key measures are presented to help test four sets of propositions via a two week twice-daily experience sampling methodology with an entrepreneurial sample, and a conceptual model is presented.

Towards a theory of entrepreneurial innovation value: "Understanding commercialisation in entrepreneurial SMEs - A case example"

Peter Malone (University of Western Australia), Tim Mazzarol (University of Western Australia) and Sophie Reboud (Groupe ESC Dijon Bourgogne, France)

Commercialisation is the final stage of an innovation management process that incorporates the way a firm manages its resource inputs, skills and knowledge, new product development (NPD) strategy, organisational culture and NPD portfolio, and the projects relevant to bringing an innovation into the market. Despite its importance relatively little is known about the way in which small firms manage innovation and bring new products to market. This paper explores the process of commercialisation within small entrepreneurial firms using a single case study of an innovation that spun out of a university research centre, grew rapidly and was then acquired by a larger international firm. It is an ‘exemplar’ case of how to undertake the process of commercialisation and was tracked throughout its lifecycle by the research team using a process of diagnosing the firm’s management’s perception of the value it was creating in the innovation, and how the firm was managing the process of commercialisation. Download presentation>>>

Uncovering creative and innovative leadership behaviour in SMEs

Ashkan Khalili, Nuttawuth Muenjohn and Adela McMurray (RMIT University)

Creativity and innovation are recognised as important elements for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Researchers have indentified many predictors of creative performance and innovative behaviour. Further, leadership behaviour has been reported to be the most important of all inflences on creative and innovative behaviours. However, there is an absence of a comprehensive contruct of the impact of leadership on creative and innovation. This paper seeks to develop such a construct. The study draws together existing measures of leadership and using a study of 514 respondents divided into leaders and non-leaders it assesses the validity and reliability of a new measure for innovative leadership in SMEs. Download presentation>>>

Five venture capital lessons for SMEs

Chris Golis, Emotional Intelligence

Venture capital financing is complex and often misunderstood area of business. After 25 years of working in the VC industry the author outlines five key lessons for those seeking to acquire equity from professional venture financiers. First, the business must offer a sustainable competitive advantage. Second, it is critically important to keep costs down and cash flow positive. Third, those seeking VC funding must learn how the game works. It is a staged process and requires a dilution of original owners' equity. Fourth, the growth of a business takes place in stages and a different type of management team will be needed for each stage. Finally, the portfolio of what is put under investment will yield only a few "golden rings" and knowing how to spot them is not easy. Download presentation>>>

Theme: SME Management, Regulation and Support

SMEs and red tape: A view from the trenches

Stuart Carr (Catrix Pty Ltd)

Red tape has come to mean excessive bureaucracy or rigid conformity to the rules. It is the bane of many small businesses yet, at the same time, it is red tape that provides competitive advantage. Red tape creates barriers to entry for competitors. It provides assurances for potential customers. It protects consumers, employees and shareholders. When red tape is flouted it can have serious consequences, for example, with the pink batts scheme. This paper explores whether red tape is the curse of small business or whether the application of regulatory controls is the problem. Most people want to obey the rules but when the rules are poorly or inconsistently expressed, compliance can be difficult. When regulations seem punitive or knee jerk, businesses lose confidence. When a government helpline offers neither help nor advice, frustration sets in. Small business owners share their red tape frustrations and give suggestions for positive change.

Building the financial capability of Indigenous small business: Lessons from a sociological study

Vinita Godinho (RMIT University)

Indigenous people are over-represented amongst financially excluded Australians, and those with lower financial capability. Research consistently finds gaps in Indigenous financial outcomes vis-à-vis national averages, including economic participation, income and assets. Cultural norms, particularly obligations to kin, are identified as barriers to greater Indigenous inclusion. Studies call for ‘culturally-appropriate’ financial policies including capability-building programs, yet Indigenous world-views on money and money management remain under-researched, restricting the ability to inform evidence-based design. Research also neglects Indigenous people living in regional and urban areas. A sociological study based on an Indigenous research paradigm, exploring money and money use in remote, regional and urban Indigenous communities, finds a culturally distinctive understanding amongst participants, which influences their world-views on financial capability and well-being. The study recommends strengths-based approaches to designing Indigenous-centred solutions which promote financial inclusion and enhance financial capability. This paper focuses on building the capability of Indigenous small business-owners.

Partnering SME with business schools: A student "consulternship" approach

Glyndwr Jones (Waikato Management School, University of Waikato)

New Zealand is a small enterprise economy; 97% of enterprises fall into this category, employing 584,000 people and accounting for 30% of the work force. Despite their economic importance SME face particular resource constraints. Several agencies provide assistance to SME: New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Callaghan Innovation and Business. Govt. NZ Specialist consultants and business associations are another resource as are business schools. The paper explores the potential for SME to partner with business schools through student ‘consulternships’ thereby accessing a valuable resource base. A literature review on student ‘consulternships’ identified issues of concern including the selection of appropriate candidates, the nature of viable projects, funding, supervision, and possible conflict of interests with professional consultants. Data was obtained from interviews with senior business students and business academics, and a survey of local SME. Responses of SME were positive to the approach including providing senior business students with practical experience. Funding, time and staff availability were seen as potential constraints.

Business advisor knowledge and knowledge transference: A conceptual framework

Alan Labas, Jerry Courvisanos and Sam Henson (Federation University, Australia)

Prior studies raise the question of how business advisors’ knowledge affects the provision of advice to small business. This paper recognises there is limited understanding of ‘how knowledge is connected to action’ and asks the question of how to research such an issue. A conceptual framework is derived from the literature to guide future empirical analysis exploring small business advisor knowledge and its transference. Two theories underpin this framework and illustrate the important role external advisors play in small business knowledge development - the theory of outside assistance as a knowledge resource, and theory of guided preparation as a guide to action based on advisor knowledge. The framework is underpinned by a critical realist methodology that allows actors (i.e. small business advisors) to operate in a changing environment. This critical realist philosophical lens enables the framework to uncover causal relationship between professional small business advisor knowledge foundations and knowledge transference.

The financial management practices of small to medium enterprises

Tim Mazzarol (University of Western Australia), Sophie Reboud (Groupe ESC Dijon Bourgogne, France) and Delwyn Clark (University of Waikato)

This paper examines financial management practices in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) from a study of 289 small business owner-managers across 30 industry sectors in Australia and Singapore. The data was collected using a case study survey by MBA students and analysed via three stages: (1) examination of the quantitative survey data; (2) NVivo analysis of the interview data; and (3) Leximancer analysis of the selected coded transcripts. The findings show that SMEs have largely informal and ad hoc financial management practices. Differences by size and financial literacy levels were found. As the firm grows in size and complexity the owner-manager is required to adopt more sophisticated and systematic approaches to financial management. SMEs with higher financial literacy have greater capacity to monitor and control the financial performance of their businesses. Challenges for SMEs negotiating with more powerful players were also identified and approaches to address this issue briefly discussed. Download presentation>>>