Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The role of business support programmes in micro enterprise innovation : the context of artisan food production
Author: McKitterick, Lynsey
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 5500
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The process of innovation in organisations is often complex and this complexity is compounded in peripherally located or rural smaller and micro size firms. Governments are aware of the importance of creating a progressive business support infrastructure to assist rural development and regional competitiveness. In terms of agricultural and rural advisory services, business advice of various forms is now offered via a range of bodies and agencies, following the network model of development and business, designed to encourage collective action. This thesis addresses gaps in knowledge around how micro size enterprises engage with business support networks for knowledge exchange and innovation. The aim of this research is to explore the role of business support programmes in the development of innovation in micro size enterprises, within an artisan food context. The thesis takes a multiple theoretical perspective, utilising concepts from the knowledge exchange (open innovation) and the rural, social networks literatures to explore micro firm engagement with business networks for innovation, the nature of network development, the business actor-producer relationship and the impact on knowledge exchange and innovation. The geographical context for the study is Northern Ireland. A qualitative methodology was adopted, utilising semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observations, and incorporating the views of micro enterprises and business support actors. The findings highlight that these enterprises are typically innovative, particularly in terms of product development, and are creative in how they source knowledge for innovation purposes. They generally do not engage heavily with business support actors for innovation, but they appreciate the benefits of knowledge exchange and peer learning. The barriers to engagement in business support programmes are quite complex and are largely related to the enterprises' constructions of the value of such engagement, which is linked to their previous experiences and their attitudes towards growth. Trust is a major theme in business support engagement and the success of business support programmes. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by building on gaps in the literature on how artisanal food enterprises innovate and how micro enterprises interact with business support actors for innovation and knowledge exchange purposes, and the impacts of that interaction. The study developes a conceptual framework using theory building that can serve as the basis for future research into this largely exploratory area. Specific suggestions for future research are made. There are several key policy implications emerging from the findings.
Supervisor: McAdam, Rodney ; Dunn, Adele ; Brennan, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Agrifood ; Food ; Micro ; Artisan ; Rural ; Business Support ; Innovation