Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This book edited by Sara Carter, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Stirling, UK and Dylan Jones‐Evans, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Turku School of Economics and Business Administration in Finland, and Director of the National Entrepreneurship Observatory at Cardiff University, UK – is the best thing that has hit the market since Carson et al. (1995). The text truly reflects its title Enterprise and Small Business: Principles, Practice and Policy in its three‐part framework of 24 chapters.
In Chapter 1 Sara Carter and Dylan Jones‐Evans set the scene by highlighting the contribution of small firms to “employment creation,” as well as stating the contribution of small firms to the success of larger firms by acting not just as their customers but also their suppliers. The editors also note the role played by small firms as outlets for entrepreneurial individuals that have found it “difficult to fit into the mould of large organisations.” Another critical point highlighted by the editors is that entrepreneurship in the context of small firms should “no longer be perceived as an emerging research field.” They also emphasise rightly that the study of small business “… draws from a range of disciplinary sources including … economics, sociology, psychology, history and geography.” These realities are well played out in the three‐part text.
Part 1 on “The enterprise environment”, features five chapters on how the small business should be measured, its role in self employment, and its relationships with government. In particular, Chapter 2 by Francis Greene and Kevin Mole on “Defining and measuring the small business” – provides a general background on the international definitions of small businesses where an analysis of small business trends is undertaken in great depth.
In Part 2, Alex Nicholls takes on a growing trend in the development of small business – “Social entrepreneurship” in an awe‐inspiring Chapter 12. This chapter makes an interesting read, as social enterprise has been at the forefront of most government initiatives on the development of small firms. Indeed Nicholls provides some insight into the development of “social entrepreneurship” as a new paradigm of “social value creation,” which reflects a move away from the traditional charity or voluntary model of small business development. The chapter also highlights several inherent tensions within the social enterprise model such as the debate over “impact and outcome” versus “process” which often contradicts the norm in community development projects. Specifically, social entrepreneurship generates benefits through the creation of social capital, improved and more efficient provision of public goods, and the establishment of new “hybrid” business forms that will ultimately both open up the markets of the future through new models of trade and credit on the one hand ‐ and redefine the role of enterprise within the social sector on the other.
Part 3, which is the last part, comprises eight chapters under a befitting title “The Small business”. In this part, Chapter 17 by David Stokes on Marketing and the small business makes good reading. In this chapter Stokes critically evaluates the role of Marketing and its implications for the small business. He notes that successful owner‐managers and entrepreneurs of especially small firms, although “actively engaged with the marketing processes” do not seem to “acknowledge involvement in marketing activities.” This point is emphasised in the notion that entrepreneurs often undertook a bottom‐up rather than top‐down approach to marketing – in other words a more innovation‐oriented rather than customer‐oriented approach to marketing is more common in the context of smaller firms. Indeed Stokes covers the main areas of small firm marketing – from innovative developments and adjustments to products and services to suit the needs of identified customer segments; interactive marketing methods (especially through word‐of‐mouth communications); and the use of informal networks (in monitoring the market place).
In chapter 24, Kevin Ibeh provides an interesting insight into “Internationalisation and the small business” where he highlights the major barriers and/or moderating influences to the internationalisation of SMEs, as well as provides a review of the institutional mechanisms and other policy measures that tend to have facilitatory impact on SME internationalisation processes. In explaining SME internationalisation, Ibeh provides some insights into the international models such as the “stage of development” model, the “network theory” and the traditional “resource‐based view” and notes that academics and policy makers seem to agree that SMEs negotiate varying paths to internationalisation.
A very instructive message from this chapter is that the idea of segmenting assistance programmes requires further thought to the extent that the “stage‐by‐stage” approach be seen as only one phase of the internationalisation spectrum, which also includes the network and resource‐based views – which collectively provide a better chance of programmes to support SME internationalisation beyond the traditional emphasis placed on exporting.
Although this text provides good reading for the entrepreneurial student, with contributions from leading academics in the areas of entrepreneurship, small business and marketing, there are some weaknesses that need to be highlighted. First, in its 24‐chapter structure, there are no case studies to engage students and enhance their learning experiences – this omission has its pedagogical implications. Second, the text is rather long drawn out – 24 chapters and 551 pages (excluding indices) are rather cumbersome for a semester curriculum.
Despite these inherent weaknesses, however, four chapters (chapters 2, 12, 17 and 24) in the text are very valuable and nowhere in any competing text would anyone find such a compelling discourse of marketing in the context of small firms on parade. Overall the text presents an assemblage of interesting topics impacting on the growth, development, theory and practice of marketing and entrepreneurship in the context of small firms. With its measured features by well‐established academics and researchers in the field – Enterprise and Small Business: Principles, Practice and Policy – is a must read for anyone interested in understanding about marketing in the context of small firms.
Carson, D., Cromie, S., McGowan, P. and Hill, J. (1995), Marketing and Entrepreneurship in SMEs: An Innovative Approach, FT/ Prentice Hall, Harlow.
Madichie, N. (2007), SME Marketing: A Reader, Pearson Custom Publishing, Harlow.