Original Research

Transforming a small business: A learning intervention

Dirk J. Geldenhuys, Frans Cilliers
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 38, No 2 | a1028 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v38i2.1028 | © 2012 Dirk J. Geldenhuys, Frans Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 October 2011 | Published: 27 March 2012

About the author(s)

Dirk J. Geldenhuys, University of South Africa, South Africa
Frans Cilliers, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: This article reports on a learning intervention in a brokers company with fewer than 50 employees. A rich description of the participants’ experience is provided. Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore the use of an experiential learning process during an organisation development (OD) intervention in a small business by means of a case study.

Motivation for the study: This study explored the important role of small businesses; the role of management; and, more specifically, organisation development models that were developed for large corporations; as these emphasise the need to study the purpose of organisation development interventions in small businesses.

Research design, approach and method: The study reported on in this article was a qualitative case study in a small brokers company with 21 staff members. The data were analysed manually by means of qualitative content analysis.

Main findings: The main finding of the research concerned how experiential learning intervention provided a space for participants to start exploring, and gradually changing the dynamics of their small business, by transforming their business into a more formal company.

Practical/managerial implications: The primary implication is that experiential learning interventions that are operationalised, from a psychodynamic perspective, can be valuable when consulted by small businesses during their transformation towards becoming more formal companies.

Contribution/value-add: This article contributes to the OD literature on small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, by providing data on how the learning process, that commenced during an experiential learning intervention, assisted a small company to develop its identity towards that of a more formal company.


Psychodynamic; organisational dynamics; systems-psychodynamic; metaphors; boundaries; organisation development


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