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Changing Use of External Business Advice and Government Supports by SMEs in the 1990s

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  • Robert Bennett
  • Paul Robson
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    Abstract

    BENNETT R. J. and ROBSON P. J. A. (2003) Changing use of external business advice and government supports by SMEs in the 1990s, Reg. Studies 37 , 795-811. This paper uses cross-sectional surveys of 1991 and 1997, a panel survey of firms surviving between 1991 and 1997 and comparison with a further cross-sectional survey in 1999, to compare the levels of use by SMEs of external business advice. The resource-based theory of the firm indicates that SMEs seek advice in order to increase their competitive capacity. Over time, increasing competition between SMEs is expected to lead to increasing use of advice. However, the paper demonstrates that only modest changes over time have occurred in aggregate use of external advice by SMEs, and these are not statistically significant. This suggests that earlier growth in external business advice services may now have plateaued. There are some significant changes of use by source (increasing for advertising, personnel and recruitment, new technology and computer services; and decreasing for taxation and financial management advice). The paper is one of the first to assess sector patterns. Publishing, manufacturing and other business activities are the largest users of advice. Sector differences are shown to be considerable and need to be taken account in future analyses. For government advice services, the shift from a centralized and fragmented structure (Small Firms Service and Enterprise Initiative) to a decentralized and coordinated structure (Training and Enterprise Councils and Business Link) had no impact on greater market penetration except for the greater participation by the larger SMEs in use of Investors in People. Increased use of government sources has occurred, however, through enterprise agencies and regional development bodies. Further comparison of developments up to 1999 suggests a possible decline in use of advice as a whole, and a significant decline in use of Business Link. This indicates that the new bodies of the Small Business Service and the Learning and Skills Council may struggle to meet their market penetration targets. BENNETT R. J. et ROBSON P. J. A. (2003) La variation de l'acces des PME aux cabinets conseil en gestion externes et au soutien de l'Etat dans les annees 1990, Reg. Studies 37 , 795-811. Cet article emploie des enquetes transversales menees en 1991 et en 1997, une enquete a echantillon constant aupres des entreprises qui ont survecu entre 1991 et 1997, et une comparaison avec une autre enquete transversale menee en 1999, afin de comparer l'acces des PME aux cabinets conseil en gestion externes. La theorie de l'entreprise fondee sur la notion de ressources laisse supposer que les PME cherchent des conseils afin d'augmenter leur capacite competitive. Sur le temps, on s'attend a ce que la concurrence croissante entre les PME entraine un acces plus important aux conseils. Cependant, cet article demontre que, pour ce qui est de l'acces gobal des PME aux conseils externes, il ne s'est produit que des changements limites qui ne s'averent pas statistiquement importants. Cela laisse supposer un nivellement de la croissance anterieure de l'acces aux cabinets conseil en gestion. L' acces varie de facon sensible en fonction de la source (variation positive quant a la publicite, au personnel et recrutement, a la nouvelle technologie et aux services en informatique; variation negative en ce qui concerne la fiscalite et la gestion financiere). L'article c'est l'un des premiers a evaluer la variation par secteur d'activite. L'edition, l'industrie et d'autres secteurs d'activite commerciaux tirent un meilleur parti de l' acces aux conseils. On montre que la variation par secteur d'activite est non-negligeable et que l'on doit en tenir compte dans les analyses futures. Pour ce qui est du soutien de l'Etat, le deplacement d'une structure centralisee et fragmentee (a savoir, le Small Firms Service et la Enterprise Initiative ) a une structure de centralisee et coordonnee (a savoir, les Training and Enterprise Councils et le Business Link ) n'a pas eu plus d'impact sur l' importance de la penetration du marche, sauf la participation accrue de la part des PME a l'initiative Investors in People . Toujours est-il que l'utilisation croissante du soutien de l'Etat a eu lieu par l'intermediaire des agences pour la creation d'entreprise et de developpement regional. Une autre comparaison des changements jusqu'a 1999 laisse supposer un declin e ventuel de l'acces aux conseils dans son ensemble, et un declin sensible de l'acces aux conseils mis a disposition dans le cadre de l'initiative Business Link . Cela indique que le Small Business Serrvice et le Learning and Skills Council auront du mal a atteindre leurs buts quant a la penetration du marche. BENNETT R. J. und ROBSON P. J. A. (2003) Veranderungen in der Anwendung von aussen kommender Gescha ftsinformationen und offentlicher Unterstutzung in kleinen und mittleren Betrieben (SMEs) in den neunziger Jahren, Reg. Studies 37 , 795-811. Dieser Aufsatz benutzt Querschnittsuntersuchung der Jahre 1991 und 1997, einen Ausschussbericht von Firmen, die im Zeitraum 1991-97 bestanden, und Vergleich mit einem weiteren Querschnittsbericht des Jahres 1999, um den Umfang von aussen kommender Geschaftsinformationen zu vergleichen, deren sich SMEs bedienten. Die sich auf Resourssen beziehende Theorie des Betriebs lasst erkennen, dass MSEs Beratung zwecks Steigerung ihrer Wettbewerbsfahigkeit suchen. Man erwartet, dass im allmahlich zunehmender Wettbewerb zwischen SMEs zu vermehrter Inanspruchnahme von Beratung fuhrt. Dieser Aufsatz zeigt jedoch, dass im Laufe der Zeit nur geringe Veranderungen in der Gesamtinanspruchnahme von Beratungsdiensten durch SMEs aufgetreten sind, und diese nicht signifikant waren. Das deutet darauf hin, dass die vorhergehende Zunahme von aussen kommender Dienstleistungen bezuglich Geschaftsinformationen nicht weiter ansteigt, und sich eingependelt hat. Es gibt allerdings signifikante Veranderungen in der Benutzung von Quellen (zunehmend auf den Gebieten der Reklame, des Personals und Einstellungen, der neuen Technologie und Computerdienstleistungen, doch abnehmend bei Steuerfragen und Informationen betreff Finanzverwaltung). Dieser Aufsatz ist einer der ersten, Sektorenmuster zu beurteilen. Verlage, herstellende und andere geschaftliche Betriebe sind die drei Hauptkunden dieses Informationsdienstes. Es wird gezeigt, dass es betrachtliche Unterschiede zwischen den einzelnen Sektoren gibt, die bei zukunftigen Analysen berucksichtigt werden mussen. Fur staatliche Beratungsdienste wirkt sich die Vrschiebung von einer zentral gesteuerten (Kleinfirmendienstleistungen und Unternehmensiniativen) zu einer aufgelockerten Struktur (Ausbildungs-und Unternehmensberatung und Geschaftverbindungen) auf eine intensive Durchdringung des Marktes uberhaupt nicht aus, abgesehen von intensiver Mitarbeit grosserer SMEs bei der Benutzung des Programms ""In Menschen investieren''. Vermehrte Inanspruchnahme staatlicher Angebote ist jedoch erfolgt und zwar vornehmlich durch Unternehmensagenturen und Korperschaften fur Regionalentwicklung. Weitere Vergleiche der Entwicklungen bis zum Jahre 1999 deuten auf eine vergleichsweise Inanspruchnahme der Beratungsdienste u berhaupt, und eine signifikante Abnahme der Benutzung der Organisation " Business Link ' hin. Dies lasst vermuten, dass die neuen Korperschaften der "Dienstleistungen fur Kleinbetriebe' ( Small Business Service ) und des "Beratungsdienstes fur "Bildung und Ausbildung' ( Learning and Skills Council ) zu kampfen haben, wenn sie ihre Ziele der Marktdurchdringung erreichen wollen.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Regional Studies.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 8 ()
    Pages: 795-811

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:37:y:2003:i:8:p:795-811

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    Keywords: Small Business; Business Advice; Consultancy; Business Link; Small Business Service; Sectors; Learning And Skills Council; Investors In People;

    References

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    1. P. J. A. Robson Shaw & R. J. Bennett, 2000. "Central Government Support to SMEs Compared to Business Link, Business Connect and Business Shop and the Prospects for the Small Business Service," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(8), pages 779-787.
    2. Colin Wren, 2002. "Evaluating the effect of soft business support upon small firm performance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 334-365, April.
    3. P. J. A. Robson & R. J. Bennett, 2000. "The use and impact of business advice by SMEs in Britain: an empirical assessment using logit and ordered logit models," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(13), pages 1675-1688.
    4. Robson, Paul J A & Bennett, Robert J, 2000. " SME Growth: The Relationship with Business Advice and External Collaboration," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 193-208.
    5. David Keeble & Lilach Nachum, 2001. "Why Do Business Service Firms Cluster? Small Consultancies, Clustering and Decentralisation in London and Southern England," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp194, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
    6. Rink, David R. & Swan, John E., 1979. "Product life cycle research: A literature review," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 219-242, September.
    7. J N Marshall & N Alderman & C Wong & A Thwaites, 1993. "The impact of government-assisted management training and development on small and medium-sized enterprises in Britain," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 11(3), pages 331-348, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Capelleras, Joan-Lluis & Mole, Kevin F., 2012. "How ‘buzz’ reduces uncertainty for new firm founders," MPRA Paper 38170, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kevin Mole & Robert Baldock & David North, 2013. "Who Takes Advice? Firm Size Threshold, Competence, Concerns and Informality in a Contingency Approach," Research Papers 0009, University of Warwick, Warwick Business School, Enterprise Research Centre.

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