Title: Modelling competence acquisition in small firms

Authors: Malin Malmström; Joakim Wincent

Addresses: ETS, Luleå University of Technology, SE-971 87 Luleå, Sweden. ' ETS, Luleå University of Technology, SE-971 87 Luleå, Sweden

Abstract: Prior research has not given much attention to competence acquisition in small firms. In response, we developed a competence acquisition model in a sample of 842 small firms. We then tested the model through multiple regression analyses. The model acknowledges the influence of factors related to the entrepreneur, the business concept, and the small firm|s existing competence based on how it acquires competence (whether it uses internal, social network, or market modes) and how this selection of modes of competence acquisition influences performance. In support of a contingency view, we find that certain antecedents seem to have different kinds of influence on the modes of competence acquisition in sub-samples characterised by different levels of internal organisational complexity and external environmental uncertainty. The influence of internal acquisition on firm performance is robust across the samples. We discuss the implications of our findings and suggest areas for future research.

Keywords: competences; firm performance; competence acquisition; small firms; entrepreneurship; organisational complexity; uncertainty.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2012.044072

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 2012 Vol.15 No.1/2, pp.131 - 158

Available online: 02 Dec 2011 *

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