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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2018

Robert Blackburn, Peter Carey and George Tanewski

The purpose of this paper is to test a conceptual framework explaining the role of relationships and trust in enabling the purchase of business advice by small business…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test a conceptual framework explaining the role of relationships and trust in enabling the purchase of business advice by small business owner–managers from their external accountants.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a semi-structured interview approach with 20 small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners and accountants in London and Melbourne.

Findings

The interview data support the conceptual framework’s central proposition that relationships and trust, rather than being antecedents of demand for advice, are necessary conditions for enabling latent demand. SMEs with greater propensity to trust are more open to buying business advice but not necessarily from their accountant.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the fieldwork is that it is based on a non-random and limited sample of accountants and SMEs.

Practical implications

Accountants in public practice can no longer assume that the already established relationships with their clients, developed while providing compliance services, will automatically lead SME clients to purchase business advice.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the accounting literature by developing a conceptual model of relationships and trust that will assist the profession in better understanding the complex dynamics of the accountant–client relationship. The conceptual model distinguishes, for the first time, the antecedent factors of demand for business advice from the enabling roles of relationships and trust. Fieldwork interviews also yielded new insights into how SMEs’ decisions to purchase business advice are influenced by specific personality traits of SME owner–managers and additional antecedent demand factors not identified in the extant literature – economic conditions, environmental turbulence and business life-cycle.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 16 April 2021

B M Razzak, Robert Blackburn and George Saridakis

This paper investigates the linking between employees' working life (EWL) and job performance of ethnic minority Bangladeshi restaurants in Greater London.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates the linking between employees' working life (EWL) and job performance of ethnic minority Bangladeshi restaurants in Greater London.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use in depth face-to-face interviews of 40 participants working in 20 Bangladeshi restaurants (BRs) following a convenience sampling method. A thematic analysis technique, with the help of QSR N10, developed two key themes related to EWL and performance.

Findings

These themes highlight several aspects of the relationship between EWL and performance. First, EWL is “beyond” the UK tradition; employers show a domineering attitude; however, employees continue to work due to lack of skills and competence. Second, employees perceive and present themselves as satisfied; however, this satisfaction is not reflected in the business performance of BRs. Third, the analysis shows that business owners “trap strategy” constrains employees to develop their skills for mobility to other industries. Hence, employees express satisfaction with their existing situation on the basis that it is the best they can hope for, given their specific skills and competence, and need for some security in the UK. Fourth, non-financial performance, for example, job autonomy, sense of fulfilment is related to EWL.

Practical implications

The paper provides a framework to promote a better understanding of the linking between employees' working life and performance of UK ethnic minority restaurants. Also, the paper makes recommendations for further research, including an examination of the applicability of the findings to SMEs operated by other ethnic groups in the UK.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the scarce literature on the working life of people in Bangladeshi restaurant businesses in the UK and the relationship between EWL and business performance.

Details

Benchmarking: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-5771

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Article
Publication date: 17 June 2021

Bernard Owens Imarhiagbe, David Smallbone, George Saridakis, Robert Blackburn and Anne-Marie Mohammed

This article examines access to finance for SMEs in the Baltic States and the South Caucasus countries following the financial crisis of 2007 and is set within the context…

Abstract

Purpose

This article examines access to finance for SMEs in the Baltic States and the South Caucasus countries following the financial crisis of 2007 and is set within the context of the rule of law for businesses.

Design/methodology/approach

The article uses the cross-sectional dataset from the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS) for 2009 to examine access to finance for SMEs and the court system in the Baltic States and the South Caucasus countries. An ordered probit estimation technique is used to model access to finance and the court system in the Baltic States and the South Caucasus countries. The analysis draws upon institutional theory to explain access to finance for SMEs.

Findings

The results show variations from one Baltic State and South Caucasus country to another in relation to fairness, speed of justice and enforcement of court decisions. The analysis suggests that if access to finance is not an obstacle to business operations and the court system is fair, impartial and uncorrupted, it determines the likelihood of strength in entrepreneurship. Additionally, the results show that, within the Baltic region, businesses experiencing constraints in accessing finance are more likely to have females as their top managers. However, for the South Caucasus region, there was no gender difference.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on evidence from the Baltic States and the South Caucasus region. However, the findings are relevant to discussions on the importance of the context of entrepreneurship, and more specifically, the rule of law. The institutional theory provides an explanation for coercive, normative and mimetic institutional isomorphism in the context of access to finance for SMEs. Coercive institutional isomorphism exerts a dependence on access to finance for SMEs. In coercive institutional isomorphism, formal and informal pressures are exerted by external organisations such as governments, legal regulatory authorities, banks and other lending institutions. These formal and informal pressures are imposed to ensure compliance as a dependency for successful access to finance goal.

Practical implications

This research creates awareness among entrepreneurs, potential entrepreneurs, business practitioners and society that reducing obstacles to access finance and a fair court system improve entrepreneurial venture formation. This has the potential to create employment, advance business development and improve economic development.

Originality/value

This paper makes an original contribution by emphasising the significance of access to finance and a fair court system in encouraging stronger entrepreneurship. The institutional framework provides a definition for coercive institutional isomorphism to show how external forces exert a dependence pressure towards access to finance for SMEs.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2000

Robert Blackburn and Rosemary Athayde

Aims to provide an analysis of the introduction of Internet‐based skills into small firms. Seeks to contribute to the wider debate on the content and style of training…

Abstract

Aims to provide an analysis of the introduction of Internet‐based skills into small firms. Seeks to contribute to the wider debate on the content and style of training most appropriate for employees and managers of SMEs.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 42 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2002

David Stokes and Robert Blackburn

There is a tendency to associate business “closure” with business “failure”, confusing owners that close a business with ‘unsuccessful’ entrepreneurs. This article reports…

Abstract

There is a tendency to associate business “closure” with business “failure”, confusing owners that close a business with ‘unsuccessful’ entrepreneurs. This article reports on a study into the experiences of business owners who have left their business. Three stages of research, including interviews and a postal questionnaire, tracked businesses that closed, what the owners did next and what they learned from the experience. The results suggest that some common assumptions need challenging in order to remove the stigma from closing down a business. The overall conclusion is that the closure process can represent a positive, learning experience. Even owners who have had unsuccessful ventures are motivated and more able to make it work next time because of lessons learned. This provides further support for the concept of the serial entrepreneur.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2001

Lew Perren, Aidan Berry and Robert Blackburn

Research and dissemination of the results has always been an important activity for those in the academic community. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has brought the…

Abstract

Research and dissemination of the results has always been an important activity for those in the academic community. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) has brought the whole area of research publication and dissemination into sharp relief, and striving for high research rankings seems, for some, to have become an end in itself. Some argue that the RAE has restricted the wider dissemination of research as academics focus on refereed journal articles to the detriment of other forms of output, eg professional articles, consultancy, books and practitioner conferences. The RAE has intensified interest in the purpose and process of publication in most discipline areas and has created considerable controversy regarding the status of different publication channels. The small business research area is no exception. This research provides a profile of the UK small business research community, it explores their perceptions regarding research and establishes the esteem that various publication channels are held. Defining precisely what constitutes the area of small business research is problematic. Indeed, providing a specific boundary would create a false precision, small business research overlaps with areas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, and it also draws upon a range of disciplines. Nevertheless, relative limits were placed on this research by the nature of the people who were asked to express their opinion and the questions they were asked. The attitudes were sought through a survey of active UK researchers (97 per cent of respondents had published in the area, 81 per cent were academics, 7 per cent were policy makers and 4 per cent business practitioners) listed on the Institute of Small Business Affairs/Small Business Research Trust database. The title and nature of these organisations suggests that those listed at least identify with the notion of small business research as an area. In addition, the questionnaire emphasised small business research throughout, and no mention was made of entrepreneurship, innovation or associated areas. Ninety‐eight questionnaires were returned, representing a 47 per cent response rate. The community was found to be more stable and mature than expected, but small business researchers held other research areas in greater esteem and most regarded themselves as empiricists rather than theorists. The implications of these results are explored for the next RAE and for the future of small business research.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1999

Robert M. Blackburn

Looks at the historical positioning of housework as unpaid and questions the correctness of this idea. States that there is a fundamental theoretical error in defining…

Abstract

Looks at the historical positioning of housework as unpaid and questions the correctness of this idea. States that there is a fundamental theoretical error in defining housework as unpaid as market concepts are being applied to non‐market work. Continues to distinguish between the two markets considering the features of both, outlining the gender differences and the recent changes in the twentieth century.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 19 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1999

Robert M. Blackburn

Introduces the different types of inequality. Argues the distinction between inequality and differences. Asks if social inequality is important or a mistaken ideal…

Abstract

Introduces the different types of inequality. Argues the distinction between inequality and differences. Asks if social inequality is important or a mistaken ideal? Briefly looks at the different forms inequality takes.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 19 no. 9/10/11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1990

John Kitching, Robert Blackburn and James Curran

Industrial relations researchers have typically directed their attention towards large manufacturing firms to the neglect of the small business. This situation is becoming…

Abstract

Industrial relations researchers have typically directed their attention towards large manufacturing firms to the neglect of the small business. This situation is becoming increasingly difficult to justify particularly for small service sector firms. Between 1980–88 there was a 22% increase in the number of businesses registered for VAT (British Business 1989) which suggests a considerable rise in the number of small firms. About 96% of all firms have less than 20 employees and these firms, it is estimated, account for 36% of total private sector employment in the UK (G. Bannock and Partners Ltd, cited in Dept of Employment 1989). The small firm population is markedly skewed towards services with nearly 90% of all small businesses (1–24 employees) in services of construction (Cur‐ran and Burrows 1988).

Details

Management Research News, vol. 13 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0140-9174

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1989

Robert Blackburn and Alan Hankinson

Two British surveys are examined which show skills shortages insmaller companies. The reasons why little training is undertaken inthese firms are set out, the main one of…

Abstract

Two British surveys are examined which show skills shortages in smaller companies. The reasons why little training is undertaken in these firms are set out, the main one of which seems to be that they are focused entirely on short‐term survival.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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