Publication Date

Winter 2016

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Aqeel Tirmizi

Second Advisor

Karen Blanchard

Abstract

The principle objective of this paper is to reexamine the potential for impactful, general programs in education for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners by assessing the success of a program called SME PRIME; conducted by AMIDEAST, Oman for six Omani entrepreneurs over a seven-month period.

General programs for entrepreneur education are produced and implemented the world over despite consistent assertions throughout academic literature that such programs are ineffective. Typical approaches to training program development and evaluation emphasize the critical role of training needs analysis. Training needs analysis is often an ignored step in the process of SME training program development because the number of variables to training success in SME education programs is so vast that the economic viability of scaling a program customized to any single combination of these variables is limited.

Approaches to evaluating benefits to SME PRIME program participants, and to identifying variables inhibiting learning, have been developed through a study of literature on training evaluation, profiles of entrepreneurs as learners, and types of learning. The SME PRIME program included workshops and coaching; and consisted of topical material on: Interpreting Accounts, Understanding Customers, Undertaking Marketing, Identifying Opportunities, HR Processes, Pitching for Capital, and Personality and Entrepreneurship.

Assessment of participant learning occurs roughly one year following the SME PRIME program’s conclusion, and is performed through qualitative interviews. Participants do not exhibit identical learning subject-to-subject, but are able to identify ways knowledge gained from the program inspired operational change in their businesses. Participants did not make program-based changes to their businesses correlating with every topic from the program, and were unable to identify knowledge learned from material that did not inspire change in their business. This paper concludes with recommendations for future studies and approaches to SME education. These recommendations include thoughts on manipulating program structure to improve material relevance and participant attendance by including coaching sessions before workshops instead of after. It also notes that while results of participant interviews imply the SME PRIME program was impactful, participant diversity was limited. All owners in the program have at least a university degree, and experience in their industries.

Disciplines

Growth and Development | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Service Learning | Work, Economy and Organizations