Deakins, D. (2004), "Editorial", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 10 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijebr.2004.16010daa.001
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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Issues 3 and 4 of the journal are once again testimony to the eclectic nature of IJEBR. In issue 3 we have papers by Fillis, Johannson and Wagner exploring e-business development and the implications and opportunities here for small firms, while Yakhlef and Maubourguet offer a fascinating commentary on brand affiliation as an increasing mode of internationalisation – a paper whose title intriguingly begins “The Lexus and the olive tree …” To complete this issue, McAdam, McConvery and Armstrong identify barriers to innovation – a key challenge in itself for smaller enterprises, but the authors add to this exploration by considering firms within peripheral regions. Hence, we are again able to offer papers which, although engaging with a range of seemingly differing issues, all have at their core the notion of how small enterprises manage themselves, their markets, products and customers. Issue 4 is dedicated to one particular area, that of rural enterprise, and we are very pleased to be able to present a number of papers from a recent conference dedicated to this area which are introduced by a key member of the organising committee, Professor David Deakins, to whom IJEBR is indebted for his input to this issue.
The papers which constitute the special issue are drawn from the 2nd Rural Entrepreneurship Conference organised by the Crichton Centre for Rural Enterprise (CCRE) at Dumfries in October 2003. There are a number of distinctive features of rural entrepreneurship that are sufficiently distinctive to mark it out as a special area of study that can support an annual conference. The first Rural Entrepreneurship Conference was organised by the CCRE in October 2002. This attracted a small number of papers from researchers committed to the development of distinctive themes concerned with the characteristics of rural entrepreneurship. There was sufficient momentum from this inaugural event to warrant the organisation of an annual conference, supported by the offer of potential consideration of publication by this journal. Although the distinctive features of rural entrepreneurship have been known for some time by committed researchers in the academic community, and by practitioners, the area is yet to establish a presence in the mainstream literature, for example often only warranting a footnote in mainstream academic texts (Deakins et al., 2003). Yet is arguable that rural entrepreneurship is a very distinctive phenomenon, affected not just by the nature of rural environments but also by the nature of individual entrepreneurs that may be attracted to the rural environment. A brief discussion is given of these distinctive features of rural entrepreneurship before commenting on the selected papers for this issue.
Distinctive features of rural entrepreneurship
The nature of rural entrepreneurship is determined by a number of factors associated with distinctiveness. For example, networks are more difficult to establish in rural environments (Vaessen and Keeble, 1995). This affects the nature of entrepreneurial development, networks become more difficult to establish, and greater emphasis may be placed for entrepreneurial growth on global rather than local networks. Entrepreneurs in urban areas may have the luxury of achieving early growth through local markets. For entrepreneurs in rural environments, local markets are rarely sufficient to sustain substantial growth, but this may force rural entrepreneurs at an early stage to develop distinctive and resourceful growth strategies (McKain, 2003).
It is claimed in the literature that creativity and innovation are more limited and develop at a slower pace in rural environments (Smallbone et al., 2002). This may not be due to the more limited pace of technological and infrastructural developments, but may be due to the lower speed of technological take-up by rural entrepreneurs (Smallbone et al., 2002). For example, a lack of competition and local monopolies may result in more inertia and technological lock-in than may occur in urban environments (McKain, 2002). A further implication of lower creativity and innovation is that it is reasonable to hypothesise that entrepreneurial learning may be more restricted, although this is an area where at present research has been limited (Deakins et al., 2003).
The role of in-migrants for the development of entrepreneurial learning is an issue that has been identified in a number of studies (McKain, 2003; Smallbone, 2002). It has been suggested that in-migrants in rural environments can be more receptive to new opportunities, opportunity recognition and entrepreneurial growth (McKain, 2002). As with other aspects of rural entrepreneurship, this is still an area where the research agenda is still developing. The role of in-migrants adds to the distinctive diversity and characteristics of rural entrepreneurship.
The nature of rural entrepreneurship means that there are distinctive policy implications (Smallbone et al., 2002). Governments cannot assume that policies to encourage entrepreneurship will have similar impacts in urban and rural areas. For example, a number of writers have suggested that there is a support premium associated with support programmes in rural areas (Smallbone et al., 2002)
The selected papers explore the nature of the distinctive features of rural entrepreneurship.
The paper by Irvine and Anderson explores the resourcefulness of small firm owners and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry in response to the impact of foot and mouth disease in the UK. They show that rural entrepreneurs are able to develop some of the distinctive and resourceful entrepreneurial strategies necessary to survive in environments which are susceptible to natural disaster, which arguably foot and mouth disease in the UK was. By developing entrepreneurial strategies to exploit the value of local rural environments, such entrepreneurs were able to successfully survive the worst impacts.
The importance of networks in rural environments and the development of local co-operation is explored in the paper by Galloway, Mochrie and Deakins. They examine a new phenomenon appearing in rural areas: the development of Internet-based, virtual business forums. They show that this time-resourceful collective action is an entrepreneurial strategy that can overcome some of the limited technological infrastructure of rural areas.
The theme of networks is further explored by the paper by Zontanos and Anderson. The paper highlights the importance of social networks in Greece. In rural environments the importance of social networking is often the key to developing entrepreneurial networks and this paper explores their development, using case study methodology.
Finally, the paper by Smith explores the often hidden nature of rural entrepreneurship. It delves into the practices of the Halal meat trade in rural areas. Entrepreneurial opportunity is only exploited by traversing into semi-legal activities. As Smith argues, rural and farming rogues have been neglected as subjects of research. Using narrative techniques, the paper explores the entrepreneurial story contributing to a neglected area of research in rural entrepreneurship, but giving additional insights into entrepreneurial learning and strategies.
David DeakinsPERC, University of Paisley, Paisley, UK
Deakins, D., Galloway, L. and Mochrie, R. (2003), “The use and effect of ICT on Scotland’s rural business community: research report for Scottish economists’ network”, ScotEcon, University of Stirling, Stirling
McKain, R. (2003), “Social constructions of environmental quality and opportunities for enterprise in rural Scotland”, unpublished PhD thesis, The University of the Highlands and Islands Project, Inverness
Smallbone, D., North, D., Baldock, R. and Ekanem, I. (2002), “Encouraging and supporting enterprise in rural areas”, Research Report for the DTI’s Small Business Service, Middlesex University Business School, London
Vaessen, P. and Keeble, D. (1995), “Growth-oriented SMEs in unfavourable regional environments”, Regional Studies, Vol. 29, pp. 489–505