IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Do Rural Firms Perceive Different Problems? Geography, Sorting, and Barriers to Growth in UK SMEs


  • Neil Lyee

    (Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, England)

  • Marc Cowling

    (Brighton Business School, Moulescoomb, Brighton BN2 4AT, England)


Support for small businesses is often delivered separately for urban and rural areas, based on the idea that the barriers to business growth differ geographically. Yet firms in rural and urban areas will also differ in their characteristics, and these may be more important influences on firm growth than location. In this paper we test whether firms in urban, semirurals, and rural areas perceive each of eight obstacles to their success differently, based on a large sample of UK SMEs. After controlling for selection effects, rural and semirural firms are more likely to perceive regulation as a problem while rural firms are more likely to see the economy as an obstacle to success. We also find some evidence that skills shortages may be more acute for rural firms, once selection effects are controlled for. The results provide only limited support for geographically differentiated policy for small businesses.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Lyee & Marc Cowling, 2015. "Do Rural Firms Perceive Different Problems? Geography, Sorting, and Barriers to Growth in UK SMEs," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 33(1), pages 25-42, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:33:y:2015:i:1:p:25-42

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:envirc:v:33:y:2015:i:1:p:25-42. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.