Broader or deeper? Exploring the most effective intervention profile for public small business support

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Authors

  • Kevin F. Mole
  • Mark Hart
  • Stephen Roper
  • David S. Saal

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Abstract

Most advanced economies offer publicly financed advice services to start-up firms and SMEs. In England, local or regional Business Links organisations have provided these services, and divided their support into nonintensive one-off contacts providing information or advice and more intensive support involving a diagnostic process and repeated interaction with firms. A key choice for Business Link managers is how to shape their intervention strategies, balancing resources between intensive and nonintensive support. Drawing on resource dependency theory, we develop a typology of intervention strategies for Business Links in England which reflects differences in the breadth and depth of the support provided. We then test the impacts of these alternative intervention models on client companies using both subjective assessments by firms and econometric treatment models that allow for selection bias. Our key empirical result is that Business Links’ choice of intervention strategy has a significant effect both on actual and on perceived business outcomes, with our results emphasising the value of depth over breadth. The implication is that where additional resources are available for business support these should be used to deepen the assistance provided rather than extend assistance to a wider group of firms.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Keywords

  • advanced economies, publicly financed advice services, advice services, start-up firms, SMEs, England, Business Links organisations, nonintensive one-off contacts, intensive support, diagnostic process, Business Link managers, intervention strategies, balancing resources, nonintensive support, resource dependency theory

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