The Examination of Entrepreneurial Activities of Diverse SMEs at a time of Disruptive Change
Objectives The paper examines how diverse small firms engage in entrepreneurial activity during times of disruptive change and in doing so seeks to gain an understanding of how to stimulate small firm resilience. The paper acknowledges that diverse small firms can be resilient and innovative through utilising multiple strategies, but the question is how in the current policy climate following radical change to business support models. Prior Work Research has only just begun to explore what drives entrepreneurial decisions during challenging times (Bullough and Renko, 2013). Recent changes to government policy on business support (Mole et al, 2009; Lockett et al, 2008 & 2012) drives the research in this paper seen as a key construct of disruptive change. The themes emerging from the current research focus on new entrepreneurial structures, increasing technological reliance across all stakeholders and the need for clear lines of communication, structures and strategies from key stakeholders. How diverse small firms go about navigating through these policy changes whilst also experiencing disruptive change in the form of the recent recession and how they develop resilience is a primary focus of the research. Approach The research will follow an engaged scholarship approach to the methodology and the principles of public engagement outlined by PEALS (Policy Ethics and Life Sciences at Newcastle University). The methodology suggested is a ‘participative form of research for obtaining the different perspective of key stakeholders … to understand a complex social problem’ (Van de Ven, 2007:9). Stakeholders include diverse SMEs, business support, policy deliverers and third party organisations and these will yield qualitative data by way of action learning sets (i.e. workshops and focus groups) as well as providing a source of quantitative survey data. Results The findings indicate that small firms have to respond entrepreneurially to disruptive change particularly when multiple factors affect change in this case policy changes and economic downturn. Implications The work contributes to the diversity research agenda as well as growing interest in entrepreneurial resilience. The paper also generates policy implications for the diverse business population of Leicester and a Framework for public engagement to support academically and practically those businesses beyond 2014. Value The value relates to policies or interventions that can be put in place in order to help small firms build innovative capacity particularly in order to survive disruptive change.
Citation:Beckinsale, M. and Glover, J. (2015) Innovative Diverse Entrepreneurship Practice in Leicestershire, The 39th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Peer Reviewed, Nov. 11-12 Glasgow, UK, attendance funded by ISBE, associated with HEIF project.