According to interim provider, Interim Partners, 31% of managers on its books said they would rather work for a small company than a FTSE 100 (20%).
Moreover, these same interims would happily slash their day rate, from an average of £757 per day, to £350 per day, if it meant they could bag an exciting SME that was going places.
But, while these figurers might sound surprising, Doug Baird, managing director of Interim Partners, says it reflects the way interims have changed their outlooks: "Most people assume top managers prefer to work at large businesses. But there has been a shift towards seeing fast growth start-up businesses as more satisfying to work at than major international corporations."
He adds: "The recession has proved that working for a blue-chip is no protection from redundancy. As a result, the prospect of joining a small business and helping it to grow rapidly is very tempting for many experienced managers."
As well as preferring SMEs, Interim Partners finds there is increasing comfort with being paid for performance. It found 82% of interims would be prepared to have more than 10% of their fee performance based, while 39% were willing to have more than 20% of their fee performance-based.
Baird said: "Interims are confident they deliver value to the businesses they work for so. For SMEs using performance related pay could be a great way to get the quality management expertise without frontloading the business with staffing costs it cannot afford."