Stick or Twist? Evaluating small business opportunity for sustainable growth

Evans, Marian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
ISBE Conference 2023
Peer reviewed
Topic: The paper seeks to examine the key judgment criteria and social cognitive processes used by small business directors and managers to assess and evaluate opportunities for growth. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach was taken using a ‘think-aloud’ interview method. A sample of participants from several ‘Help to Grow Management’ programmes consented to take part in the study. Transcripts were analysed using NVivo 14 software and thematic analysis. Findings: Findings suggest that small business directors and managers as key decision makers use three main judgment criteria to assess and evaluate opportunity attractiveness: gain estimation, loss estimation and perceived feasibility. Additionally, they use social, cognitive processes to help validate their assessment for further evaluation. Homophilic teams are more commonly used to assess organisational capabilities and competences. These findings question assumptions about opportunity evaluation as a single event and highlight the process as a cognitive, multidimensional concept. Research limitations/implications: As a relatively small sample was used, findings cannot be generalized to a wider population. However, the study implies that future research should explore the three judgment criteria in greater depth, using a longitudinal design. Practical implications: Team development, promoting homophily as a team strategy and improved understanding on opportunity evaluation as a social and collective process can be enhanced using systematic interventions by trainers and practitioners. This would encourage knowledge exchange, encourage re-evaluation and incorporate feedback at a collective level. Originality/value: This study adds to existing empirical research and supports identification of key judgment criteria for improved approaches to evaluation methods. It also highlights opportunity evaluation as a social process, rather than solely an individual one, and moves the research field away from previous singular event focus on the topic. This approach is still relatively underexplored.
open access article
opportunity evaluation, judgment criteria, social cognitive theory, small business growth, perceived feasibility
Evans, M. (2023) Stick or Twist? Evaluating small business opportunity for sustainable growth. ISBE conference, Birmingham, 8-10 November 2023
Research Institute
Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)