Understanding barriers to small business growth from the perspective of owner-managers in Russia
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Small businesses, particularly growing small businesses, are regarded by policy makers and academics alike as being important sources of wealth creation, employment generation and innovation. Yet, few small businesses grow. One potential way of explaining why so many businesses do not grow is through the notion of 'barriers'. Previous studies on barriers typically identify and predict what kinds of barriers affect business growth, rather than attempt to explain how or why this is the case, if indeed it is the case at all. This thesis aims to elaborate on our understanding of barriers to small business growth. Two qualitative inductive interview-based studies were conducted in St. Petersburg Russia; the first was conducted in 2003, the second in 2005. Using semi-structured interviews in the second study (the main study), 27 owner-managers of small businesses in Russia were asked if they had intentions to grow the business, how they grew their businesses or intended to do so, and what, if anything, interfered with this process. The purpose of the study was two-fold: first, its purpose was to examine barriers from the perspective of individual owner-managers, with an emphasis on the meaning of barriers and the context in which they are perceived, and second to explore and examine how or the ways in which perceived barriers may influence owner-managersâ growth intentions and behaviours. Data were analysed using template analysis mainly, drawing on interpretive phenomenological analysis and matrix analysis. Based on the accounts of owner-managers, barriers were found to work in different ways to shape intentions to grow or not to grow, and as well to shape intention realization. How this occurred depended partly on owner-managersâ perceptions of the institutional environment. Findings suggest that the relationship between barriers and small business growth is complex. It is, nevertheless, a relationship which purports to be a fruitful area of study, one in which future research might further our understanding of small business growth from a continuing examination of barriers, particularly in relation to intentions, in relation to how meaningful barriers are perceived to be, and in relation to the context in which they are perceived.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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