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Diversity and SMEs: Existing evidence and policy tensions


  • Sara Carter

    (University of Strathclyde)

  • Monder Ram

    (CREME, Birmingham University)

  • Trevor Jones

    (CREME, Birmingham University)

  • Kiran Trehan

    (CREME, Birmingham University)


The purpose of this White Paper is to present an overarching review of the evidence that currently exists with regard to diversity and SMEs. It outlines longstanding concerns that entrepreneurial activities and ambitions are restricted to a narrow range of social groups, with others, in particular some ethnic minority groups and women, characterised as having both lesser interest in enterprise and lower levels of resources necessary to participate. Attempts to increase participation rates of under-represented groups have resulted in only modest changes. This White Paper introduces the key evidence relating to ethnic minority and women-led enterprises, explaining the context of each group, and summarising research evidence relating to their relative access to finance, markets and management. Research and policy within the field of diversity and SMEs is characterised by a number of tensions, relating to perceived or real discrimination; whether to promote a volume of new businesses or focus on high growth potential firms; whether specialist business support is more effective or desirable than mainstream provision; and whether there is evidence of market failure in the support provided to diverse enterprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Sara Carter & Monder Ram & Trevor Jones & Kiran Trehan, 2013. "Diversity and SMEs: Existing evidence and policy tensions," White Papers 0003, Enterprise Research Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:enr:wpaper:0003

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    Cited by:

    1. Katarina Držajić & Frank Vega, 2017. "Working Conditions as a Factor of Productivity in SMEs," Post-Print hal-01705460, HAL.
    2. Sara Carter & Samuel Mwaura, 2014. "The Financing of Diverse Enterprises: Evidence from the SME finance monitor," Research Papers 0018, Enterprise Research Centre.

    More about this item


    entrepreneurship; women; ethnic minority; finance; markets; management;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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