The Peter Pan syndrome

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Engineer, École des Mines

Philippe BODÉNEZ

Engineer, École des Mines

Étienne HANS

Engineer, École des Mines

Seminar Business life | Friday October 2, 2009 - 9h30 - 12h

Three young engineering students at the École des Mines attempted to discover what it meant to be the manager of an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) as the topic for their final year thesis. Despite a plethora of literature on SMEs, there is comparatively very little written about the people who manage them. The students met a number of managers and realised that there were many hurdles which faced them. These frequently included a conflict between narcissism and altruism, being close to the staff and the influence of social relations, the position of being on one's own and running the risk of incompetence, and finally a desire for independence and yet being dependent in many ways. It would appear that these managers establish themselves long-term in a comfort zone, where there is a wealth of potential, but from which it is difficult to escape. As a result, they adapt themselves to hang on to small sized companies with slow growth, unlike their German counterparts. This situation has been called the 'Peter Pan syndrome'. Will French managers refuse to grow up in order to keep the advantages associated with, the small size of their companies and the sympathy which they can attract ?

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