Assessing dynamic capability in Finnish SMEs

Jari Laine*, Laura Wirtavuori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Purpose - The purpose of this study is to evaluate and identify feasible means of assessing the dynamic capability of Finnish Small and Medium Sized (SME) firms from the angle of the supporting and promoting capability of top management. The aim is to provide for suitable tools and means for the assessment that could be further tested in future research. A questionnaire is developed based on theoretical and empirical findings and acid tested in SME CEO interviews against the framework created. The interview results are analyzed and preliminarily interpreted for steering further research.

Design/methodology/approach - This study draws on the empirical data gathered in an ongoing Top Leader research project in the Small Business Center of Aalto university school of business, funded by ESF. The datasets are gathered in facilitated workshops, expert round table forums and personal interviews of selected SME management and HR expert representatives. The theoretical background is provided by the extant body of knowledge in organizational dynamic capability, SME strategy, innovation and leadership. Qualitative research and theory building approach using grounded theory method is selected in order to produce explanatory and pragmatic models and proposals. The main units of analysis are the personal, inherited and acquired capabilities of the CEO and the management team. These are operationalized through a framework derived from the literature of the Dynamic Capabilities.

Originality/value - In firms operating with scarce resources, like in SMEs, this paradigm is of greatest importance. While sustained superior financial performance or the survival of the firm is a result of multiple independent and cross-dependent variables, an often neglected factor is capability of the CEO and management team of the firm. In a small company, the effect of the personal traits of an entrepreneur and other key influencers are claimed to be of remarkable meaning for the success. While the topic is touched in various streams of scientific research, the results are mostly presented on a conceptual level, thus leaving the full potential in managerial impact untapped. Here we are going to step down to produce a model that can be further leveraged also in managerial context.

Practical implications - The preliminary outcomes of the research give implications that especially the external and internal networking abilities of the SME CEO prove to be a fruitful area for more concentrated research. The theoretical model chosen together with empirical data has been successfully translated into a questionnaire that will be used and improved in further interviews. The method is believed to be particularly useful for practitioners of SME leadership and strategy.

Original languageEnglish
EditorsJC Spender, G Schiuma, Albino
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-88-96687-07-9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventInternational Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics - Bari, Italy
Duration: 10 Jun 201512 Jun 2015
Conference number: 10


ConferenceInternational Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics
Abbreviated title IFKAD


  • SME
  • Dynamic Capabilities
  • Assessment
  • Strategy

Cite this

Laine, J., & Wirtavuori, L. (2015). Assessing dynamic capability in Finnish SMEs. In JC. Spender, G. Schiuma, & Albino (Eds.), IFKAD 2015: 10TH INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON KNOWLEDGE ASSET DYNAMICS (pp. 2144-2154)