ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT LEARNING CHALLENGES

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ABSTRACT

To date attention appears to have been mainly concentrated on the development and support of the learning, skill and competence requirements that entrepreneurs and small business owners need to succeed. However, very little attention is placed on the ability of support practitioners to provide the required support. Generally accepted standards with regard to the knowledge, skills and competence requirements for support practitioners seem to be lacking. Support practitioners are also drawn from various education and work experience backgrounds.
The lack of industry standards as well as the fact that support practitioners are drawn from various education and work experience backgrounds may be the reason why no clear guidelines exist with regard to the knowledge requirements for support practitioners. In view of the above, the problems that this study is concerned with are the following: a) To investigate the nature of entrepreneur and small business support; b) To determine what the knowledge criteria for entrepreneur and small business support practitioners should be; and c) To investigate whether support practitioners possess the required knowledge to provide relevant and meaningful support to entrepreneurs and small businesses as suggested by the literature on entrepreneurship.
To obtain a better understanding of the need for this study, a logical framework was developed using the Transcendental Model development methodology. The conceptual model (see Figure 4.2) and theory building process have provided two main benefits: • Firstly, a holistic view of the broader problem environment within which support practitioners function has been provided. • Secondly, the focus for the research study and where it fits into the broader problem environment has been established. The transcendental research methodology was also used to develop a stratified research model (see Figure 4.3) which highlights three phases that the research should move through: 1. The first phase starts with investigating existing theories and standards relevant to entrepreneur and small business practitioners at the real level. This was done through the exploratory discussions and the literature review. The literature review assisted to determine the knowledge areas that are required by support practitioners. 2. The second phase investigates what knowledge with regard to entrepreneurship, business management and the practice disciplines support practitioners possess at the actual level.
This was done through the field research which measured the knowledge that support practitioners actually possess. 3. The third phase investigates whether the required results with regard to the industry objectives of reducing the high failure rates of start-ups and the development of sustainable ventures were obtained at the empirical level. The study uses the abovementioned approach to obtain the following goals: • firstly, to investigate the knowledge, skills and competence criteria that support practitioners should possess in order to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses to create and develop sustainable ventures that would in turn lead to the decline in start-up failure rates; and • secondly, to establish what knowledge, skills and competencies practitioners do possess. The study identified the key measures required to evaluate support practitioner outputs and it also identified that support practitioners lack specific knowledge constructs in all three knowledge areas. It further provides suggestions of how these knowledge gaps can be addressed.
As there is a dearth of South African and international research with regard to the knowledge criteria for support practitioners, this study makes a unique contribution to the field in this regard and specifically in the South African small business landscape. INTRODUCTION Entrepreneur and small business support practitioners in South Africa are called by different labels of which the most common appears to be Business Advisors and Business Mentors. Exploratory research revealed that no standardised training or education standards exist for entrepreneur and small business support practitioners. This study aims to identify the learning or knowledge requirements of support practitioners and it is proposed that identifying these learning needs can make a contribution to the delivery of relevant and meaningful entrepreneurial and small business support of quality. This study aims to make a contribution to the field of entrepreneur and small business support and more specifically in the area of one-on-one support provision.
South African and international research within this field appears to focus the attention mainly on the need for entrepreneur and small business support, the type of support provided to small businesses as well as the nature of entrepreneurship and small business support. It appears then that research which focuses on the ability and competence of those who provide the support is lacking. In the United Kingdom some researchers have started to focus on the ability of support practitioners (Deakins & Freel, 1998; Sullivan, 2000). In South Africa, however, research that focuses specifically on the knowledge and competence requirements of practitioners appears to be generally lacking. At least one South African study (Antonites & Watson, 2004) focussed on profiling mentors within South Africa. Antonites and Watson (2004) however only sought to obtain a broad picture of the mentor but failed to define the construct “entrepreneur-mentor” as used by them and also did not focus on the ability of the mentor to provide support.

CONTENTS :

  • ABSTRACT
  • CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
    • 1.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 1.2 THE NEED IN SOUTH AFRICA TO FOCUS ON THE KNOWLEDGE REQUIREMENTS OF SUPPORT PRACTITIONERS
    • 1.3 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS
      • 1.3.1 Practice Categories
      • 1.3.2 Practice Disciplines
      • 1.3.3 Support Practitioners
    • 1.4 RESEARCH PROCESS OUTLINE
    • 1.5 PROBLEM STATEMENT
    • 1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND INVESTIGATIVE QUESTIONS
    • 1.7 PROPOSITIONS AND HYPOTHESES
    • 1.8 VALUE OF RESEARCH
    • 1.9 DELIMITATION OF STUDY AREA AND CRITICAL ISSUES RAISED BY RESEARCH FOCUS
    • 1.10 THESIS OUTLINE
      • 1.10.1 Chapter One: Introduction and Background
      • 1.10.2 Literature Review
        • 1.10.2.1 Chapter Two: Entrepreneur and small business learning requirements
        • 1.10.2.2 Chapter Three: Practice disciplines
      • 1.10.3 Chapter Four: Conceptual Framework and Research Methodology
      • 1.10.4 Chapter Five: Presentation of Findings
      • 1.10.5 Chapter Six: Discussion of Findings
      • 1.10.6 Chapter Seven: Conclusions and Recommendations
    • 1.11 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER TWO ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT LEARNING CHALLENGES
    • 2.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 2.2 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (BDS)
    • 2.3 DEFINING ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SMALL BUSINESSES
      • 2.3.1 Entrepreneurship
      • 2.3.2 Small Business
    • 2.4 DISTINGUISHING ENTREPRENEURIAL VENTURES FROM SMALL BUSINESSES
    • 2.5 UNDERSTANDING THE NEED TO GROW
      • 2.5.1 Problems Associated with Growth
      • 2.5.2 Key Issues for Growth
    • 2.6 VENTURE LIFE CYCLE CHALLENGES
    • 2.7 FAILURE AND TURNAROUNDS
      • 2.7.1 Failure
      • 2.7.2 Turnarounds
    • 2.8 CRITICAL ISSUES WITH REGARD TO THE FOCUS PROVIDED IN THE CHAPTER
    • 2.9 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER THREE THE LEARNING CHALLENGES OF THE DIFFERENT PRACTICE DISCIPLINES
    • 3.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 3.2 BUSINESS ADVISING AND INFORMATION
      • 3.2.1 Defining the Nature of Business Advice and Information
      • 3.2.2 The Role of Business Advice and Information
      • 3.2.3 Knowledge and Skills Requirements for Business Advisors
    • 3.3 BUSINESS CONSULTING
      • 3.3.1 Definitions
      • 3.3.2 The Role of Business Consulting
      • 3.3.3 Consultant Requirements
    • 3.4 BUSINESS COUNSELLING
      • 3.4.1 Counselling Definitions
      • 3.4.2 The Role of Business Counselling
      • 3.4.3 Business Counselling Requirements
    • 3.5 BUSINESS MENTORING
      • 3.5.1 Mentoring Definitions
      • 3.5.2 The Role of Business Mentoring
      • 3.5.3 Mentoring Experience Required
    • 3.6 BUSINESS COACHING
      • 3.6.1 Coaching Definitions
      • 3.6.2 Coaching Roles
      • 3.6.3 Coaching Process
      • 3.6.4 Coaching Requirements
    • 3.7 THE USE OF MODELS AS INTERVENTION TOOLS
    • 3.8 BENEFITS OF THE PRACTICE DISCIPLINES TO ENTREPRENEURS AND SMALL BUSINESSES
    • 3.9 THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PRACTICE DISCIPLINES
    • 3.10 THE SUITABILITY OF THE PRACTICE DISCIPLINES FOR THE DIFFERENT VENTURE LIFE CYCLE STAGES
    • 3.11 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 4 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK AND RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
    • 4.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 4.2 PROJECT PROCESS OUTLINE
    • 4. 3 THEORY BUILDING
    • 4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
      • 4.4.1 EXPLORATORY RESEARCH
      • 4.4.2 Literature Review
      • 4.4.3 Field Research
      • 4.4.4 Propositions
      • 4.4.5 Hypotheses
    • 4.5 RESEARCH PROCESS AND METHODOLOGY
      • 4.5.1 Measurement Elements
      • 4.5.2 The Communication Approach
      • 4.5.3 Constructing and Refining the Measurement Questions
      • 4.5.4 Question Content
      • 4.5.5 Questionnaire Design
      • 4.5.6 Measurement Scales
      • 4.5.7 Data Analysis and Presentation of Findings
      • 4.5.8 Sampling
      • 4.5.9 Pre-testing
      • 4.5.10 Statistical Analyses Process
    • 4.6 PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED DURING THE RESEARCH
    • 4.7 INTERPRETATION OF DATA AND PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
    • 4.8 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 5 PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
    • 5.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 5.2 RESULTS OF PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS AND EXPLORATORY LITERATURE REVIEW
    • 5.3 PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS
      • 5.3.1 Respondents per Province
      • 5.3.2 Biographical Data of Respondents
      • 5.3.3 Most Common Practice Categories that Respondents are Known by and their Years of Experience
        • 5.3.4 Industry Experience
        • 5.3.5 Percentage of Time Spent on Different Tasks/Activities
        • 5.3.6 Percentage of Time Spent on Different Practice Disciplines
    • 5.4 PROFILE OF COMPANIES SEEKING ASSISTANCE
      • 5.4.1 Frequency with which Respondents Deal with Different Types of Businesses
      • 5.4.2 Types of Problems that Companies Experience which Seek Assistance
    • 5.5 ENTREPRENEURIAL KNOWLEDGE OF RESPONDENTS
      • 5.5.1 Entrepreneurial Considerations
      • 5.5.2 Knowledge of Entrepreneurial Characteristics
      • 5.5.3 Knowledge of Screening Tools/Methodologies
      • 5.5.4 Knowledge of Factors/Elements of Viability
    • 5.6 BUSINESS MANAGEMENT KNOWLEDGE OF RESPONDENTS
      • 5.6.1 Knowledge of Business Plan Elements
      • 5.6.2 Knowledge of Business Plan Functions
    • 5.7 KNOWLEDGE OF PRACTICE DISCIPLINES
      • 5.7.1 Roles and Tasks Assigned to Clients
      • 5.7.2 Knowledge of Methodologies to Determine the Nature of Problems that Companies Experience
        • 5.7.3 The Provision of Advice to Clients
        • 5.7.4 Likelihood of Respondents Following a Particular Practice Discipline
        • 5.7.5 Reasons for Following/Not Following a Particular Practice
        • Discipline when Dealing with Clients
    • 5.8 RESULTS OF STATISTICAL ANALYSES
      • 5.8.1 Ranking The Importance Of Different Business Issues To The Venture
        • 5.8.1.1 Testing for differences within the total group and their ranking of important business issues
          • 5.8.1.2 Testing for differences within and between the practice categories and their ranking of important business issues
  • 5.8.2 Ranking The Frequency Of Contact Between Respondents And Different Venture Types
  • 5.8.2.1 Testing for differences within the total group and their ranking of important business issues
  • 5.8.2.2 Testing for differences within and between the practice categories and with regard to their ranking of frequency of contact with different venture types
  • 5.8.3 Ranking the Frequency of Contact with Different Company Problems
  • 5.8.3.1 Testing for differences within the total group and their ranking of frequency of contact with different company problems
  • 5.8.3.2 Testing for differences within and between the practice categories and their ranking of frequency of encountering different company problems
  • 5.9 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
    • 6.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 6.2 PRELIMINARY DISCUSSIONS AND INVESTIGATION
    • 6.3 THE KNOWLEDGE AREAS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO ENTREPRENEUR AND SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT PRACTITIONERS
      • 6.3.1 Entrepreneurship Knowledge
      • 6.3.2 Business Management Knowledge
      • 6.3.3 Knowledge of the Practice Disciplines
    • 6.4 DISCUSSION OF THE FIELD RESEARCH FINDINGS
      • 6.4.1 Biographical Data of Respondents
      • 6.4.2 Measuring the Level of Education and Training that Support Practitioners Possess of each of the Knowledge Areas
    • 6.5 PROPOSITION FINDINGS
      • 6.5.1 Proposition 1: Support practitioners lack entrepreneurship knowledge
      • 6.5.1.1 Knowledge of entrepreneurial considerations
      • 6.5.1.2 Knowledge of entrepreneurial characteristics
      • 6.5.1.3 Knowledge of screening tools/methodologies
      • 6.5.1.4 Knowledge of crucial factors/elements of viability
      • 6.5.2 Proposition 2: Support practitioners lack business management knowledge
      • 6.5.2.1 Knowledge of different industries
      • 6.5.2.2 Knowledge of business planning
    • 6.5.3 Proposition 3: Support practitioners lack knowledge of the practice disciplines
    • 6.6 HYPOTHESES FINDINGS
      • 6.6.1 Important Business Issues
      • 6.6.2 Contact with Different Venture Types
      • 6.6.3 Dealing with Different Company Problems
    • 6.7 SUMMARY
  • CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
    • 7.1 INTRODUCTION
    • 7.2 KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
    • 7.3 CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM THE FINDINGS
    • 7.4 IMPLICATIONS OF CONCLUSIONS
    • 7.5 CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY
    • 7.6 RECOMMENDATIONS
    • 7.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
    • 7.8 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
    • 7.9 SUMMARY
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