This paper reports on the quintessential rural small firm, the tourist service provider and explores the impact of the recent foot and mouth outbreak. A theoretical framework is employed which proposes that many rural small firms capture and commodify the values that are inherent in the countryside. Part of this process is the portrayal of image and is an essential element of the new economy of signs and symbols. This image was critically challenged during the outbreak and thus affords us a unique opportunity to examine what happens, the impacts and effects, on small rural business when the image is tarnished. The findings show that small firms in rural areas suffered badly, even in areas where there was no disease. This leads one to argue that the effects of the disease were generated, less by fact, and more by the production of image. However, it was also found that rural small firms were extremely flexible in their responses to the crisis. In turn this seems to suggest that many small rural businesses may have a particular resilience which augurs well for sustainability.
Irvine, W. and Anderson, A.R. (2004), "Small tourist firms in rural areas: agility, vulnerability and survival in the face of crisis", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 229-246. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550410544204
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