Scottish small business support organisations : an exploration of the role, focus, nature and relationships of the Scottish business support environment
This dissertation sets out to fill existing gaps in the literature where the focus, nature and relationships of business support organisations are practically ignored, particularly in a Scottish context. The introduction sets the Scottish context and is followed by a critique of the ‘small’ business label, where it is argued that misleading and inappropriate labels are unhelpful for business support groups in targeting their membership and which services and supports to offer. The dissertation goes on to explore, in some depth, the focus, role and nature of business support organisations by providing a new typology of business support and a classification of communication orientations of business support organisations. In doing so, the activities of business support organisations are made clear, which is highly valuable in terms of exposing unnecessary duplication of services, and in understanding how the different business support organisations achieve their aims and objectives on behalf of members and clients. This in turn, may assist business support organisations in targeting their services more appropriately and to facilitate ‘small’ businesses in identifying which support organisations are complementary to their individual needs. The research draws several conclusions which have academic, practitioner and policy implications. A new contextualised definition of ‘small’ business is constructed, based on the argument that the label ‘small’ is inappropriate and unsuitable for the purpose of business support. A member/client profile for Scottish business support organisations is discussed, providing in turn, the opportunity to speculate on the focus of business support organisations in targeting and providing services for their members. The research also explores the localised nature of business support provision and delivery in conjunction with the local economic forum (LEF) concept, and the centrality of Scottish Enterprise to the Scottish business support structure is determined.