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close this bookJob Quality and Small Enterprise Development - Working Paper No. 4 (ILO, 1999, 35 p.)
close this folder3.0 Practical experiences
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Changing demands and prerequisites for inter-firm trade
View the document3.2 Internal enterprise transitions
View the document3.3 The community context


Strategies and processes for improvements in job quality and small enterprise development must take cognisance of the context in which small enterprises operate. This includes their relationship with larger enterprises, their participation in networks and the communities in which they are located. This chapter presents practical experiences that small enterprises face in relation to job quality. It identifies a number of factors that influence the improvement of the quality of employment provided by small enterprises.

There are indications that qualitative aspects of work and the environment may be increasing in economic significance as individual enterprises and whole economies seek ways of meeting new competitive requirements. Recent years have witnessed a regime of continuous change as enterprises downsize on a regular basis, outsource, introduce flatter organisational models, promote team working, restructure supply chains and form new kinds of network relationships. They also use a range of new forms of flexible employment contracts. Thus, new forms of industrial organisation and competition strategies are creating new contexts, possibilities, and challenges.

Competition on a simple cost basis, typically associated with low labour costs, is still common. However, increasing globalisation has shown that in many industries, regions and countries these are of transitory advantage and are not sustainable in the longer term. Thus, many enterprises, and indeed whole local economies, are looking for ways of competing in the long term. Instead, they seek to maintain price competitiveness through increased productivity. In addition, they recognise the advantages of innovation and improving the quality and finish of their products. The benefits of superior design and fashion content are recognised, as are better service and greater flexibility and the speed and reliability of delivery.