Some limitations of the rational planning model in the context of small-to-medium sized manufacturing firms.
The central aim of the research was to evaluate the applicability of the normative
strategic planning (SP) model in the context of the small manufacturing firm. A
normative SP paradigm was developed from a review of the relevant literature and this
was further refined through a review of the existing body of knowledge in the small
business area and the attendant strategy and planning issues. To test the paradigm,
in-depth studies were conducted in a sample of four small manufacturing enterprises
and in each case, three strategic changes were jointly identified by the researcher and
the respective managing directors. The studies were longitudinal in nature and were
designed to measure the relevance and utility of the rational planning model in such
businessesT. he methodsu sed compriseds en-&structuredin terviews and observation
techniques and the changes were analysed to identify the factors that drove them. From
this analysis, a more refined model was developed which integrated the change factors
identified from the literature review and the change factors from the field-work. A
particularly dominant concept emerged from the field-work, that of flexibility in the
pursuit of emerging opportunities, a concept present in eight of the twelve changes.
The work contributes to the existing body of knowledge by determining the part
played by the rational planning (RP) model; by establishing how strategic changes are
triggered, assesseda nd implementedi n the researchedc ompaniesa nd by building a
more relevant model that might prove useful in a broader selection of small businesses.
A key apriori assumption proposed inter alia that the RP model would be of little
practical use in small business( SB) environments.T he main perceivedw eaknesseso f
the RP model were considered to be the data requirements and associated data analysis
resources thought rarely to be found in SBs and the capability of actually generating
and sustaining radically new strategies. From the analysis of the 12 changes, the
influence of the RP model was found to be minimal.