Crisis induced learning in a small business: A case study

Date of Completion

January 2000


Business Administration, General|Education, Adult and Continuing




This study examines crisis induced learning in a small business. Central to this study is the learning that occurs on the individual, group, and organizational levels and the contextual factors strategy, structure, and culture, that affect and are affected by learning. In order to compete in a global economy, companies must attract and retain workers who are able to learn new processes and procedures more quickly than ever before. Although learning has been examined in large organizations, researchers have not sufficiently studied learning in small organizations. Because small businesses continue to be a major employer in the United States, this study will be important to educators, employers, and employees alike. ^ A qualitative case study design was employed to study a small medical instruments manufacturing company that expressed a desire to become a learning organization. Data was collected via document analysis, ongoing observation, and unstructured and semi-structured interviews. ^ Findings suggest that organizational learning did not occur in this small business in the post-crisis period due to barriers that exist within the contextual factors of the organization's strategy, structure, and culture. Findings also suggest that due to an unexpected intervention, organizational learning was beginning to occur at the time of the study. The learning that occurred in the post-intervention period affected and was affected by the organization's strategy, structure, and culture in a manner similar to that in large organizations. ^ Suggestions are provided to recognize and enhance the contextual factors in small businesses to enable the development of a culture of continuous learning and improvement. ^