Smallbone D, Baldock R, North D, 2003, "Policy support for small firms in rural areas: the English experience" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 21(6) 825 – 841
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Policy support for small firms in rural areas: the English experience
David Smallbone, Robert Baldock, David North
Received 23 January 2003; in revised form 19 August 2003
Abstract. This paper is concerned with small business development in rural areas and the policy approaches currently being used to support them. The key question underlying the paper is the extent to which small businesses located in rural areas have distinctive support needs, associated with the characteristics of rural businesses themselves or their owners, and/or the characteristics of the external operating environment for business in rural areas. A related question concerns the possible influence of enterprise characteristics and the characteristics of rural areas on how the business support needs of rural businesses are best addressed. The study comprised a desk-based review of existing literature relevant to the support needs of rural enterprises and/or the means of addressing them. It also included primary research on policy initiatives and programmes concerned with enterprise development in rural areas. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 with representatives of Business Links with catchments that included rural areas, as well as other key agencies (for example, the Countryside Agency). In addition, twenty-four case studies were completed of rural policy initiatives, based on face-to-face interviews. Following a brief review of key literature, an overview of the policies currently being operated by Business Link is described, based on the survey. This is followed by an identification of good-practice principles of rural business support, based on an analysis of the case-study support initiatives. The paper concludes by identifying the implications of the analysis for future enterprise support policy.
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