Exploring Rural Enterprise: New Perspectives on Research, Policy & Practice: Volume 4

Cover of Exploring Rural Enterprise: New Perspectives on Research, Policy & Practice
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Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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Purpose

The objective of this chapter is to lay the foundation for the edited collection of contemporary research contributions contained in this book. Specifically, the chapter is concerned with defining and conceptualising rural entrepreneurship.

Methodology

The chapter seeks to explore why and how a rural enterprise can be defined, and determines whether rural entrepreneurship is a distinctive category of entrepreneurship theory and practice. Building on descriptive rural enterprise taxonomies proposed in previous studies, the chapter considers the drivers and barriers impacting on firm start-up, growth and decline in rural environments.

Findings

The authors argue that there is little difference between a rural and non-rural enterprise in terms of structure, that is how the business is organised or managed, or how the characteristics of the individual entrepreneur are exhibited. Thus, it would appear that there is no specific category for, nor definition of a rural entrepreneur beyond that of ‘an individual who manages a venture in a rural setting’.

Research limitations

The chapter is based mainly on a review of extant literatures.

Originality/value

The chapter concludes that it is the exogenous factors that differentiate rural from non-rural ventures, and it is these factors that will have a significant impact on start-up, growth and failure rates.

Purpose

This chapter reports a study that investigates the link between rural small firms’ social networks and their market diversification strategies in the context of the Internet.

Methodology/approach

Telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of 142 Scottish small rural and urban firm owners in May 2012. The purpose of the telephone interviews was to understand how Internet usage impacted on the social networks and market diversification experiences of small rural firms. Analysis of the categorical data was performed using a variety of established methods.

Findings

Internet usage for many small Scottish rural firms was facilitating both their market reach and social networks. In addition, small rural firms’ most important social network contacts are highly correlated to their origin of sales, and this can be either locally or extra-locally based.

Practical implications

A positive relationship between Internet usage, social networks and market reach expansion offers support for further developing and improving the Internet infrastructure of rural communities.

Originality/value

Internet usage emerges as a critical tool for augmenting the social networks of Scottish rural small firms, which in turn helps to extend their market reach activities.

Purpose

This study tracked rural network activity among regional stakeholders, including government supported agencies, educational institutes, indigenous business representatives, economic support organizations and rural community groups. It explored the relationships that exist between regional stakeholders in a collaborative rural network environment, offering insights into the relationship dynamic between stakeholder organizations.

Methodology/approach

A longitudinal case study method was utilized to identify the component elements of regional stakeholder network engagement.

Findings

Communication, resource sharing and prolonged social interaction were found to be key elements in promoting stakeholder trust. Furthermore, proactive stakeholders improve commitment to network relationships over time. A cyclical flow of these criteria is necessary for congruent understanding to develop between the stakeholders resulting in collaborative network engagement.

Research limitations

Limitations include stakeholder willingness to participate in the research study, potential participant and researcher bias and the possibility that certain features may be particular to the observed network.

Practical/social implications

The current research demonstrated that stakeholder engagement cannot be assumed in a rural network environment, thus the implementation of the network paradigm into national strategic plans for rural regional development is recommended.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the under-developed area of regional stakeholder network engagement and provides a basis from which to consider the relationships that exist between regional stakeholders in a rural network. A key outcome is the development of a Framework of Regional Stakeholder Network Engagement, which offers insight into how committed network relationships evolve and highlight the factors that promote and hinder sustainable regional stakeholder engagement.

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.

Purpose

The aim of this chapter is to challenge the assumption that top-down approaches to economic development and growth are the best way forward for rural areas. Looking at the work of the current LEADER programme and LEADER project examples, the chapter measures the impacts of small-scale, bottom-up approaches to foster rural development. It considers the importance of the LEADER approach as a key component of the current rural policy framework.

Methodology

The chapter provides a discussion of top-down versus neo-endogenous approaches to rural growth, drawing on policy and practitioner literature. Four case studies from the current LEADER programme are used to demonstrate how the LEADER approach brings about growth at a local level, and how this can be measured using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) approach.

Findings

LEADER, as a programme, can deliver sustainable and effective economic growth through a series of small-scale interventions by stimulating entrepreneurial activity in the context of neo-endogenous growth. This forms a useful complementary strand to the top-down policy of major sectoral interventions profiled in this chapter in the context of current England-wide policy approaches to economic development. The SROI approach provides an effective tool for capturing the longer term effects of LEADER.

Practical implications

Considering the broader SROI and sustainable credentials of LEADER-stimulated business development provides a new and more robust means of both communicating the achievements of the programme and a rationale for giving it greater prominence.

Originality/value

The chapter establishes a new place-based approach to considering the wider impact of LEADER projects through an SROI approach. The insights help provide new insights into the contribution of this programme to economic development in rural communities.

Purpose

This chapter considers social purpose venturing as a vehicle for addressing social exclusion in the rural developing world, illustrated with reference to case examples across a range of East and Southern African countries.

Methodology/approach

Data was collected during in-depth case study research with social purpose ventures in various African countries. Qualitative research methods were primarily employed including interviews, stakeholder focus groups and observational research.

Findings

Six channels through which social purpose ventures contribute to tackling social exclusion amongst rural BoP communities are identified. These include ventures with the BoP as employees, producers, consumers, entrepreneurs, service users and shareholders. Characteristics for successful social purpose ventures are also discussed.

Research implications

The chapter adds to knowledge in the field of social purpose venturing in the developing world. It identifies various channels through which such ventures help tackle rural social exclusion and also factors influencing their success.

Practical implications

The chapter provides insights for practitioners and policy makers, particularly in relation to facilitating successful social purpose venturing.

Social implications

This chapter contributes to better practice in rural development in the Global South.

Originality/value

Insights relevant to academic and practitioner audiences are provided, as the chapter addresses a subject area and region that have received limited attention.

Purpose

Agriculture and associated services are central to the rural economy of the United Kingdom. Rural veterinary enterprises are important providers of services to livestock producers, but are now facing concerns over their future economic viability. The objectives of this chapter are to outline the changes occurring in the veterinary and agricultural sectors, and to explore the main issues affecting veterinary enterprises in a changing business environment.

Methodology

This is a conceptual chapter contextualised mainly within the United Kingdom. As such, the methodological approach comprises a critical review of current academic literatures, as well as government reports and relevant media articles.

Findings

The findings demonstrate that the commercial success of rural veterinary enterprises is critical to ensuring the future provision of high-quality animal health services to both farmers and government. The current issues facing farmers are likely to affect their willingness and resources to invest in veterinary services. Furthermore, farmers may have doubts as to vets’ ability to provide business-focussed services that add value. In addition, many public services are outsourced to private veterinary enterprises, and forthcoming policy changes are expected to lead to reduced income from public sources for both vets and their livestock farming clients. While wider issues affecting agriculture are beyond the control of private veterinary practitioners, veterinary enterprises will need to ensure that they can deal with such challenges and, where required, adapt their services accordingly.

Research limitations

The chapter is based on a review of extant literatures, and the scope of the research is therefore limited to existing knowledge about the farm animal veterinary business landscape.

Originality/value

The chapter summarises current knowledge of the challenges facing rural veterinary enterprises. While some of the issues described are specific to the veterinary sector, many are also relevant to other rural SMEs providing knowledge-intensive services to farmers. The chapter also describes areas requiring further empirical research.

Purpose

This chapter contributes to addressing the gap in the literature on entrepreneurs and enterprise in island and remote rural environments.

Approach

The research, policy and practice literature on island enterprises and entrepreneurs is reviewed, taking Scotland as a focus within wider international contexts. Islands – as spaces and cultural places – are recognised in terms of ‘otherness’ and difference, not least in respect of tourism and culture. The importance of distance, isolation and peripherality is discussed as social constructions – myths and narratives – as well as in their mainstream measured equivalences. Agencies and policies are introduced at different levels and given significance reflecting their particular relevance in remote and isolated communities. The significance of the dominant paradigm founded on agglomeration, clusters, connectivity, proximity and competitiveness in the peripheralisation of those establishing and running businesses on islands is explored critically. This is contrasted with experiences from comparative northern European locations of smart specialisation, innovation and resilience, and the underpinning key roles of social capital, relationships and cultural values and norms are identified. Sectoral case studies and enterprise are offered to examine these issues in context.

Findings

As this is an exploratory study, results are neither comprehensive nor definitive. However, they are indicative of how forces and obstacles apply in island and remote rural environments.

Research, practical and social implications

The study confirms the need to recognise social relations locally, and for policies and strategies to be proofed for locational differences.

Purpose

Biodynamics is a specific form of organic production with spiritual underpinnings. This chapter explores it as a form of rural entrepreneurship using the capitals framework of Bourdieu as a conceptual tool.

Methodology

The chapter draws upon 11 qualitative case studies of New Zealand firms engaged in biodynamic growing methods. Data collected via in-depth narratively oriented interviews inform the chapter, along with other relevant secondary material.

Findings

The chapter suggests that the spiritual underpinning of the biodynamic approach imbues the experience with a form of spiritual capital that is not captured within traditional interpretations of capital. We conceive of this as a form of alternative capital and offer a conceptualisation as an attempt to capture that difference.

Research limitations

This is a niche, small scale, exploratory study limited to one geographic context (New Zealand) at one particular point in time.

Originality/value

This chapter offers a modest expansion to previous conceptualisations of capital in the rural context.

Purpose

This chapter takes a qualitative snapshot of rural entrepreneurs in Bulgaria. The aim is to shed light on the formation of non-farm start-up intentions in rural post-communism communities.

Methodology

A qualitative ethnographical methodological approach centred on a theoretical framework, based on Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behaviour. Primary survey data are drawn from the village of Kostandovo, in the Pazardjik region of Bulgaria.

Findings

A holistic perspective reveals entrepreneurship to be just one facet of complex rural livelihood strategies. Distrust in formal institutions by rural entrepreneurs dominates the Bulgarian business climate. A culture of informality in business is accompanied by widely accepted corruption. Crucial factors affecting the start-up decision in post-communist economies are social capital, a lack of experience of the entrepreneurs, and by public administrators.

Practical implications

The presented evidence highlights different dimensions of the theoretical constructs. Future research could focus on the impact of inefficient/corrupt institutions on the decisions of potential rural entrepreneurs.

Originality/value

By coupling universally applicable intention predicting theory with unique ethnographic evidence, the chapter gives a face of the otherwise abstract entrepreneurial agents. The perceptual perspective tackles the most relevant start-up aspects of the post-communist context, providing insights applicable beyond the case country.

Purpose

The aim of this chapter is to evidence the requirements for successfully facilitating female entrepreneurship in rural areas.

Methodology

Using a case study approach based on WiRE, the chapter outlines the practical support that has evolved from research into the complexities of supporting women’s rural business activity. It provides a brief history of the WiRE organisation and presents the findings of a UK West Midlands European Social Fund sponsored project.

Findings

Female rural entrepreneurs contribute to the regional economy; however, practical business support needs often become blurred with personal demands, such as caring roles, particularly with respect to farm-based enterprises.

Research limitations

Findings are concentrated around one regional case study. Further research could make comparisons across a range of similar projects.

Practical implications

The case study highlights the importance of location and circumstance in the development of FREs. It provides a clear research-based template for both rural policy makers and support agencies that should be used to inform the design of future supports for FREs.

Social implications

FREs are important to the rural economy and have a valuable contribution to make to economic development, both in terms of wealth creation and employment. However, the complexity of circumstantial, community and family factors affects the success of support offerings, highlighting the need for plaiting support.

Originality/value

WiRE is the only ongoing support organisation for FREs. There is a paucity of research around support to FREs, which this chapter aims to rectify.

Purpose

This study explores policy and practice in relation to a peripheral rural region food support programme for small (micro) food enterprises and the impact on business development and innovation.

Methodology/approach

An exploratory case study methodology is employed focusing on the effectiveness of a local support programme for micro business development in the food sector, in a European Union peripheral, rural location.

Findings

The effective integration of policy and practice in the design and implementation of a public/private partnership programme can enable micro businesses to benefit from Government aid in a collective manner that would not have been possible in a Government–micro enterprise dyadic relationship.

Research limitations/implications

The study focuses on one region and on one particular support programme. However, the research highlights the potential benefits that can accrue to micro food producers, and micro companies more generally from participation in such a programme, and identifies the types of support that are particularly effective for these types of organisations. The research identifies the possibilities and challenges of applying the South Eastern Economic Development type programme to other regions.

Practical implications

The success of such support programmes depends on identifying the needs of the participants at an early stage in the programme and in tailoring training and support accordingly. There are benefits from local government working closely with private consultants as brokers for micro enterprise business development and innovation.

Social implications

Micro enterprises play key economic, social and cultural roles within their local rural community. Collectively they offer opportunities for rural employment and tourism development.

Originality/value

The chapter addresses a major gap in knowledge around the role of policies and supports in assisting business development and innovation in relation to micro size enterprises, and more specifically food micro enterprises based in peripheral, rural regions.

Cover of Exploring Rural Enterprise: New Perspectives on Research, Policy & Practice
DOI
10.1108/S2040-724620144
Publication date
2014-08-04
Book series
Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-112-1
eISBN
978-1-78441-109-1
Book series ISSN
2040-7246