Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration

Department

Sydney Business School

Abstract

The ongoing success and growth of the Australian economy, like that of many world economies, largely depends on the contribution of small business. Whilst failure rates for small businesses are reportedly high in some industry sectors, the sheer hard work, motivation and entrepreneurship of small-business managers helps to ensure that there is more success than failure. Struggling with the pressure of impending deadlines, caused in part by today’s highly accelerated work environment, small-business managers are in a constant battle with time. Small-business owner-managers, in particular, face the added burdens of keeping the business afloat, pursuing new opportunities and managing their employees. Studying the time-management behaviours of owner-managers is becoming even more important in this highly competitive, global and time-driven environment.

Time management is widely acknowledged, particularly in the populist literature, as a positive approach to improving productivity and work-life balance whilst also helping to reduce stress. It is said to do so through practices such as goal-setting, planning, prioritising and scheduling. The literature review in this study revealed that the value and benefits of time management, which are widely acknowledged, have not been supported by rigorous research. In particular, the gap in the literature that is most evident, and the subject of this research, is the application of time management in the context of small business. This study is therefore motivated by three research questions: (1) What are the planning, monitoring, executive and time-assessment behaviours of small-business owner-managers? (2) How do personal and environmental factors influence the time-management behaviours of small-business owner-managers? and (3) What are the productivity, work-life balance and stress-related consequences that result from the adoption of time-management behaviours by small-business owner-managers? To conduct this exploration, a case-study methodology was chosen that incorporated a series of semi-structured interviews, time logs and participant feedback from 10 smallbusiness owner-managers (SBOMs).

The findings, which emerged during the course of this study, reinforce the significant role that time management plays in small-business management. The study also showed that the way in which SBOMs manage their time is characterised by personalisation, flexibility, integration, informality and pragmatism. The influences that affect these behaviours include personal and environmental influences; together, they shape and influence the capacity of SBOMs to manage time effectively. To complete the exploration of behaviour, through the eyes of experienced SBOMs, three consequences of time-management behaviours are examined which include productivity, work-life balance and stress. Examining these consequences along with influences provides a more complete picture about the benefits and motivations of SBOMs and their adoption of timemanagement behaviours. The demands on the time of SBOMs, who lead and manage their small businesses, show no signs of slowing down, and this research may help to provide the basis for dealing with present and future timemanagement challenges within this context.

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