CONTRASTING PERCEPTIONS OF THE CHALLENGES OF RURAL SMEs: RECONCILING ENTERPRISE AND AGENCY VIEWS

David Moyes, Mike Danson, Geoff Whittam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose - It is important that agency advice and support for SMEs in rural areas is congruent with how business-owners perceive their needs and challenges. To explore how well matched these two sides are, this chapter investigates the difficulties faced by small businesses operating in rural southwest Scotland.

Methodology/approach - In-depth interviews with business influencers (those whose activities affect businesses either through application of policy initiatives, development of policy or the giving of business advice) and owner-managers of rural businesses compare and contrast the perceptions of the challenges of rurality for small businesses.

Findings - Mismatches are revealed between the concerns of rural business-owners and what business influencers understand them to be. Business influencers consider that structural weaknesses and a 'lifestyle' business culture in the region inhibit growth, but business owners are strategic in their business aspirations and approaches to growth. However, they are also highly critical of the promotion of the region and concerned about the misunderstanding of potential visitors that the region is remote and difficult to access.

Research limitations - This chapter reports experiences in a particular rural location; such experiences are typical of many rural regions and, thus, the findings should be transferable.

Practical implications - The region's economic strategy focuses on reducing the significant prosperity gap with the rest of the country. Key to this is the development of indigenous business sectors. However, the policy interventions derived from a misapprehension of the constraints and underpinning culture of indigenous businesses are unlikely to be successful and may be counter-productive.

Originality value - Contrasting the perspectives of those who do business with those who influence business reveals issues of understanding which need to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEXPLORING RURAL ENTERPRISE
Subtitle of host publicationNEW PERSPECTIVES ON RESEARCH, POLICY & PRACTICE
EditorsC Henry, G McElwee
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Pages59-79
Volume4
ISBN (Print)978-1-78441-112-1, 978-1-78441-109-1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameContemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
PublisherEmerald
ISSN (Print)2010-7246

Keywords

  • Small business
  • rural policy
  • business constraints

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