“Keeping an eye on dynamics” : a customer-led development process in a micro company
1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, Management
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Micro companies constitute the largest group of companies in Finland and they have an important role in employment and growth. The percentual number of micro companies in Finland in 2013 was 93.4% of all the company sizes. The economist Samuli Rikama (2014), from the Ministry of Employment and the economy in Finland, stated in the annual Business Review that micro companies have indisputable significance in Finnish society promoting economic growth and employment and yet the field lacks attention in research and the importance of the sector is often seen trivial. This qualitative case study is investigating a customer-led development process in a micro company. The goal is to find out, how the selected service is appearing to the main customer segment and what are the developmental issues arise from the customers. The research is conducted an action research which goals for developing the existing operations model (Huovinen & Rovio: 94−95). The framework for development is attribute map by Gunther McGrath and MacMillan (2000: 25). The research is also investigating the meaning of the development process for the case company in micro company context. The development process is conducted as an action research and it commits to the hermeneutic tradition is science. The hermeneutic perspective emphasizes interpretation and prospect of significance in a process which produces information of the reality as overlapping cycle. The data collected in triangulation consist of an owner theme interview, electric inquiry with the customers and a theme group conversation among different professionals. The data is thematized with an attribute map in collecting and analyzing the data. The results of the research propose that the developmental needs of the case company are related to marketing, communications, networking and web-sales. The research provided new opportunities to improve supporting operations and the product under investigation received positive feedback from the customers. The product was evaluated as a differentiator in the customer inquiry. The results concerning the meaning of the process raised the need to sustain an active role in development and networking both in the case company and in the micro company context. Understanding the developmental possibilities in the micro company context and issues considering continuity and growth, the research results can provide aspects for change of generation or divestment processes, business model generation and in general, conception of the practical level. Further research of micro company entrepreneurship provides information for economic and societal perspectives and decision-making in general.
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