The purpose of this investigation was to gain an understanding of the use, function, and support dimensions of developmental relationships for small business apparel retailers by applying focus group data collection techniques and interpretive analysis. Data collection took place through eight focus groups with small business owners/managers in six mid-western communities. Results indicate that, indeed, networks, role models, and mentors are viewed as necessary and important mechanisms for information, support, and guidance. However, focus group participants noted a lack of access to such developmental relationships. In terms of functions performed, having a business colleague to confide in, and relate to, was of particular importance in gaining access to knowledge and support in decision-making. Gender differences in the use and perceived value of the developmental relationship were also noted. Based on the study results, four hypotheses were inductively developed and pose areas for further research investigation.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.


Submission Location


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.