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Title: First line management in small and medium sized enterprises in the UK and China
Author: Cheng, Yan
ISNI:       0000 0001 3542 6923
Awarding Body: University of Derby
Current Institution: University of Derby
Date of Award: 2000
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The research question was offered by the sponsor of this Ph.D., The National Examining Board of Supervision and Management (NEBS Management). This research is a study of the First Line Management (FLM) role in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and China. Different culture background, management styles, and communication systems, can be expected to affect the roles of managers. The Chinese style of managing the organisation has long been a subject of interest to researchers and practitioners. Research studies on managerial work and managerial roles have been well established in Western countries. Until recently, the cultural and political climate in China was less conducive to research into areas that might have caused too much debate. As a result, those researching management in China tended, until relevantly recently, to be isolated from main stream academic debate. It is believed that this study is unique in focusing on the FLM in China as well as in the UK. In both countries research on the FLM in SMEs is limited. This research attempts to bridge this gap by trying to define, for the first time, the roles, functions and skills required of FLMs in SMEs in the UK and China. The study argues that it is crucial to understand the FLM's role and place it within the organisation. The FLM is a critical link in any organisation because it is at this level that managerial and non managerial employees meet face to face and work in a close relationship with each other. The evidence from the research suggests that the FLM's role in the SME is broader than that of equivalent FLM role in the large organisation. It was found that FLMs in SMEs were seen as 'non-specialist', expected to cope with whatever aspect of work came their way. The implication of this broad 'nonspecialist' role was that they were expected to be a 'master of many trades'. The skills required to perform the FLM role were not perceived, despite their breadth as specialist skills such as finance, quality, purchasing and so on. Rather they were perceived as underpinning generic key skills which could, and should, be further supported by improved training and development. The research revealed that FLMs in SMEs perform a unique and a valuable role.There has been some concern about the extent to which models and practices of supervisory management are capable of being transferred from one country to another. The UK and China have evolved supervisory management styles and systems which are rooted in their respective social, economic and political circumstances but which are now being shaped increasingly by external, international and global patterns, trends and models. The study revealed there was a surprising degree of consistency in certain aspect of the FLM role in both countries. In particular, responsibility for 'organising and managing' was perceived as the core element ·of the FLM role. Differences were reviewed in how this core role was delivered in the two countries. For example, FLMs in the UK favoured a team working approach which was not adopted to the same degree by their Chinese counterparts. Other examples of differences included greater involvement and responsibility for financial matters in China than in the UK. These and other examples arise from different social, cultural and political circumstances and help illuminate the detail differences in both countries. In conclusion, the influence of international and global trends is likely to reduce the level of difference in the future. Summarising the FLM role in the SME, the research suggests that the FLMs are both co-ordinators and human relations engineers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: SMEs; FLM; Theories; Cross cultural; Styles