Feed and Farm Supply Store Managers' Perceptions of Employee Training as a Contributor to Competitive Advantage
Springfield, Henry C., III
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The purpose of this study was to assess the perception held by managers of feed and farm supply stores in Texas regarding the contribution of employee training to the competitiveness of the firm, determine if managers of feed and farm supply stores perceive that employee training can improve their competitive strength, and to determine if they will invest in employee training in order to gain a competitive advantage. The objectives of this study include: describe the operating environment of feed and farm supply stores in Texas; describe feed and farm supply store managers? perception of employee training?s contribution to their firm?s competitive advantage; identify barriers to employee training in feed and farm supply stores; determine Internet availability and potential use for employee training in feed and farm supply stores; and describe the willingness of feed and farm supply store managers to engage in employee training delivered via the Internet. This study employed a descriptive and correlational research design. A selfadministered questionnaire was used to collect data from a sample frame of 305 feed and farm supply stores randomly selected from 1,487 stores in Texas. These stores operate in a demanding, competitive environment that is changing at a rapid pace. They perceive that employee training improves customer satisfaction, contributes to business growth, improves productivity, and increases profits. The skills needed by their employees are increasing and they need training in sales, communication skills, technical knowledge, time management, retail merchandising, marketing, and business management to help the business stay competitive. Barriers to training include not being able to see immediate results, cost, difficulties created when key employees are not on the job, travel distances to attend training, and a lack of training programs relevant to their needs. Over 80 percent of these stores have both computers and Internet access. Managers will allow employees to use these resources for training purposes, encourage participation in online training, and allow their employees to participate in training during business hours. It is recommended that Internet based training programs be developed in sales, communication skills, technical knowledge, time management, retail merchandising, and business management for these small agribusinesses.