Why small businesses make a big difference

Interview with Soumitra Dutta, Dean of Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Big companies grab the headlines. From Apple and Amazon to Reliance and Tata, global conglomerates and heavyweights make billions of dollars each year, with huge workforces behind them.

So when we think of business, we rarely have in mind SMEs or SMEs. This is understandable. After all, it’s organizations like Microsoft, Bharti Airtel, and Unilever that make the world go round, right?


“Small and medium-sized businesses represent a large proportion of the firms located around the world, as well as a proportion of the global workforce,” says Sumitra Dutta, Dean of Oxford University’s Said Business School. “They are the ones who keep things going.”

He’s right. According to the World Bank, SMEs account for about 90% of all firms and are responsible for 50% of employment globally, as well as up to 40% of GDP in emerging markets. A report from McKinsey published in 2022 revealed that in Malaysia, while medium-sized companies account for only 2% of all operating companies, they account for 40% of the country’s GDP.

“While SMEs are smaller, they are a powerful and dispersed group. We must look to their impact.” Its potential for economic and social impact must not be underestimated or underestimated.

So why are small and medium businesses often overlooked? “It’s all about the metrics we take advantage of,” explains Dean of Oxford University Saeed, who graduated in engineering from IIT Delhi and then completed a master’s degree and a PhD in computer science at Berkeley.

For Dota, SMBs aren’t the only victims of antiquated value metrics — bodies spanning countless sectors, despite their huge potential for influence, are often sent to small leagues courtesy of how they balance a narrow set of metrics. He notes that this has an impact on how we perceive leadership among these organizations.

“Take, for example, the business school, and the dean’s role in turn,” he explains. “If we were to use just a few metrics—the number of staff or students, which in the case of Saïd Business School is just over a few thousand each year, or annual revenues, the dean’s role might seem modest. But when you think about the impact a business school can have Through each of the stakeholders, the responsibility to lead each of the potential change-makers carries real weight.”

But this potential brings with it great stress. As the leader of an organization charged with educating current and future business communities, you need to ask yourself tough questions: Are we doing enough? And most importantly, “Do we ensure that we, as a business school, reflect the need that the world needs of us?” says Dutta.

In our interview with ForbesSoumitra Dutta discusses the role of MBA graduates in making a difference in the world, realizing that their education at Oxford comes with responsibility for others and their own sanity.

“You have to believe in your product, and you have to believe in your service,” he adds. “But you also have to be very honest with yourself. Always.”

Although SMEs account for about 99% of firms and 70% of all jobs in OECD countries, between February 2020 and April 2021 nearly 80% of these firms in 32 countries lost between 30% and 50%. % of revenue. Many have called for more support for small businesses in the wake of the increased pressure posed by the Covid pandemic, as well as other contemporary challenges including rising costs, economic uncertainty and the energy crisis. But challenges remain in providing adequate assistance.

“Although its value is well documented, it has always been difficult to service these types of businesses. Many have struggled to offer support to small and medium businesses – including business schools,” says Dutta.

Every small and medium-sized business deserves to benefit from world-class teaching that helps them grow effectively. They are the entrepreneurial heart of the business community, not just in the UK but across the world.” But the Dean of Oxford University Said insists that the challenge for many of them is not to start a business but to grow it.

“They don’t fit easily into the global business school formula, and I don’t think business schools have focused enough on it. Now, more than ever, I’d like to see us, and other business schools, increase focus in this area.” Our work with Goldman Sachs is influential and we are grateful for their collaboration.Given the right support at the right time, SMEs are a powerful force for job creation and productivity improvement.

Delivered in partnership with Goldman Sachs, Saïd Business School currently offers a fully funded Executive Program to small business leaders across the UK. Since its launch in 2010, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business UK programme Supporting more than 2,000 SME leaders, offering participants a range of educational opportunities, from access to world-leading academics to peer-to-peer mentoring.

“The goal is clear: to create jobs and economic opportunities,” says Sumitra Dutta. “Oxford Saïd is not alone in the support it provides to SMEs – nor should it be. Schools must do more.”

For Dutta, it all makes for impact: “SMEs have the potential to make a significant impact within their communities, and business schools have the resources and knowledge to support these businesses.”

“At Happy Oxford we have made it an area of ​​focus because it is clear from a personal point of view, as well as the corporate position we have a responsibility to do what we can to make the world a better place. SMEs have proven they can make an impact, so we must support these businesses. By doing this, we will be able to maximize the good that we do.”

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