Small companies need to increase their competitiveness. As a consequence, they have to enhance their staff capabilities and their HR management capacity. Being small organizations, however, they are not able to develop such processes on their own, internally. They need to be involved in active learning environments, externally provided through the long and short networks in which they are embedded and on which their activities are largely dependent. It is at the local level, therefore, that new forms of learning-on-the-job practices should emerge, similar to those that for long were successfully established in the industrial districts, where territorial ‘cognitive laboratories’ guaranteed the transmission and updating of skills. From this point of view the organizational dimension of the local context is essential, as it can sustain a cooperative approach among economic actors and promote the establishment of learning practices in strategic fields such as research, innovation services and the development of key competencies.
Keywords: Small companies, learning processes, local development, innovation, companies networks