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Exploring the leadership development journey of SME owner-managers

Vuhuong, Jen; Edwards, Gareth


Jen Vuhuong

Gareth Edwards
Professor of Leadership and Community Studies


Purpose: This research aimed to investigate influences on and opinions of leadership development in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) business owner-managers. Therefore, the objective of this study was to respond to the research question – How do SMEs’ founder-owner-managers develop their leadership over time? Design/methodology/approach: This study applies a history narrative qualitative method to explore the leadership development journey of SMEs’ founder-owner-managers throughout their lifetime. Fifteen founder-owner-managers were interviewed. Findings: Five main themes emerge reflecting a social contextual process starting from early childhood: (1) the dominant influence of parents on leadership qualities and behaviours; (2) the importance of sports activities in shaping leadership qualities and identities; (3) the dominant influence of role models especially bad role models on leadership perceptions and behaviours; (4) the importance of self-learning, experimentation and self-reflection in developing entrepreneurship capability and (5) the importance of community-based social networks in gaining support and practicing leadership capability. Originality/value: The originality of this research lies within the methodology used whereby a history narrative qualitative method is employed to develop data for analysis purposes. Using this methodology, this study contributes to a broader understanding of SMEs’ founder-owner-managers’ leadership development journey by taking a more expansive view to explore the development process throughout their lifetime.


Vuhuong, J., & Edwards, G. (2022). Exploring the leadership development journey of SME owner-managers. Journal of Management Development, 41(2), 53-69.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 11, 2022
Publication Date Apr 26, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2022
Journal Journal of Management Development
Print ISSN 0262-1711
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 2
Pages 53-69
Public URL


Exploring the leadership development journey of SME owner managers (423 Kb)


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Copyright Statement
This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact

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