Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sims, Clarence A.||Novak, Ralph S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Business Education


Small business--Management


Small manufacturers are important to our economy and they are representative of our free enterprise system. Their continued existence is imperative. A prerequisite for business survival is new ideas. Purpose of the study. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this study determines if small manufacturers are aware of and realize the necessity for keeping up with new processes and innovations. Second, it measures the means and media utilized by small manufacturers for keeping abreast of new processes and innovations. Specifically, this study attempts to determine: (1) if small manufacturers keep up with innovations and new processes; (2) if small manufacturers utilize all the idea sources available to them; (3) if certain idea sources are more Important than others; and (4) if there is a difference in the number and the type of idea sources used by small manufacturers as they grow larger. Acquisition of data. The author uses two methods to obtain the data for this study. A mail questionnaire has been sent to 152 small manufacturing companies in Rockford, Illinois. Eight other small manufacturing firms have also been interviewed. The interview has increased the return percentage and it has afforded the researcher added insight into the responses received via the mall. The total return response has been 34.8 per cent. Fifty-nine useable returns have been processed and analyzed. Summary of findings. This study reveals that most small manufacturers are aware of the necessity to keep up with new processes and Innovations. However, their awareness and their implied desire is not necessarily reflected in their actual utilization of most idea sources. Forty-five per cent of the small manufacturers in this study conduct research in their own plant. Brainstorming is engaged in by 25 per cent of the companies sampled. Almost all small manufacturers subscribe to some business periodicals. Advertisements are widely used as a source of new ideas by most of the small manufacturers in this study. No small manufacturer in this study is a member of a patent pool. Eighty-eight per cent of all the small manufacturers utilize outside salesmen as a source of new ideas. The smaller the company, the more it must rely on external idea sources. The most important Idea sources to the small manufacturer are: business periodicals, employees, salesmen, advertisements, and plant research. There are several idea sources with a wide range of utilization between the very small manufacturers and the large small manufacturers. Specifically, plant research, brainstorming, suggestion systems, and trade associations are utilized by a much greater percentage of the large small manufacturers. Conclusions. Formal employee suggestion systems are employed by only 26 per cent of the companies in this study. However, these same companies consider employees to be their most important idea source. This could indicate that small manufacturers might receive the benefits of employee suggestions without a systematic standardized procedure for suggestion conveyance. An informal system of new idea conveyance might exist because of the impersonal nature of most small manufacturers. Plant research, when employed, seems to be the most Important source of new ideas to the small manufacturer. The Utilization of most idea sources require an awareness and a desire on the part of a company*s management. This study indicates that most companies are aware of the necessity to keep up with new processes and innovations. This sight lead to the conclusion that Idea sources are not utilized because small manufacturers do not have knowledge of their existence and they are not aware of the benefits that can be obtained from them.


Includes bibliographical references.


xi, 66 pages




Northern Illinois University

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