Call for Papers: Advancing understanding of HRM in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)


The socio-economic significance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cannot be understated. Across the globe, SMEs account for over 95% of firms and 60% of private sector employment (OECD, 2015). SMEs tend to be resource constrained and hierarchically contracted, making the prospective impact of HRM more transparent and telling. It follows that successful management of employees can be critical in determining the survival and growth of SMEs (Barrett & Mayson, 2008). Given this significance, it is surprising that SMEs remain marginalised from HRM theory and research (Wapshott & Mallett, 2016).

This special issue seeks to bring leading edge international research together to advance critical questions and future research prospects concerning the nature, determinants and impact of HRM in the SME context. While there have been growing calls for more dedicated SME research (e.g. Festing, Harsch, Schäfer, & Scullion, 2017; Lai, Saridakis, Blackburn, & Johnston, 2016) progress has been hindered by a lack of critical assessments of the nature and applicability of HRM as applied to the SME context. Extant work on HRM in SMEs has been described as ‘underdeveloped and equivocal’ (Chadwick, Way, Kerr, & Thacker, 2013, p. 311) remaining at a very nascent stage of theory development (Barrett & Mayson, 2008). Many studies abstain from theoretical reflection and perpetuate a large firm bias, by either uncritically deploying established research instruments, and/or by casting the small firm as lacking or deficient if they fail to meet normative ideals. While some have found a positive relationship between a suite of HRM practices and SME performance (Razouk, 2011; Sheehan, 2014), for others the very idea that sophisticated, formal HRM adds value in an SME context ‘remains contentious’ (Bryson & White, 2019, p. 750).

Submission Instructions

Contributions for this special issue must be original research not under consideration by any other journal or publishing outlet. All papers will be subject to a double-blind peer review in accordance with journal guidelines. The guest editors will select and include as many papers as possible in the special issue according to the relevance and quality of the submissions. Manuscripts not included in this special issue may be considered as regular submissions to the journal.

Manuscripts should be prepared according to the Instructions for Authors page. Manuscripts should be prepared according to IJHRM guidelines. Each submission should have a separate title page with author details. Manuscripts should be submitted online using the International Journal of Human Resource Management ScholarOne Manuscript submission site.

To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue on ‘Advancing understanding of HRM in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): Critical questions and future prospects’, choose the title of the Special Issue from the manuscript type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript submitted for a Special Issue’ and insert the title in the text field provided. To be considered for this Special Issue, full manuscripts must be submitted no later than the 27th of March 2020 at 12.00 (midday, noon) Greenwich Mean Time (UK). Papers may of course be submitted prior to this deadline as well. Authors of prospective papers are welcome to discuss their ideas in advance, please direct all queries to Brian Harney

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