Situating small business regulation: A longitudinal study of how small firms receive, understand and respond to regulation

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: University of Newcastle Business School

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
 
Description • Most regulations are experienced as everyday and unproblematic; firm behaviour is not the same as the reported views of owner-managers. Firms learn about and adapt to regulation in both (in)formal ways through their spatial/temporal networks of suppliers, personal contacts, regulators etc.

• There are significant non-governmental regulatory burdens: these include (a) 'displacement' of work to our firms from larger public sector/corporate organisations and regulators (b) direct and indirect regulatory effects of financiers/investors and other firms or parent companies imposing standards, IT systems, targets, and culture change initiatives.

• Regulation is experienced as a benefit to business, particularly in 'formalising' growth-oriented firms (see Nom. Output 1) operating in nascent sectors where technologies/protocols are not yet stable.

• Clearer regulatory regimes are needed to stimulate growth: uneven enforcement, policy makers' vacillation, and a lack of clarity in implementing regulation are key issues hindering growth.
Exploitation Route Our distinctive methodological approach - encompassing contextually sensitive longitudinal data-gathering - has important implications for how regulations are conceptualised, measured and enacted. This can usefully facilitate engagement with various user communities, including policymakers, regulators, trade bodies, and small firms.



Senior decision-makers in these communities can be engaged with in different forms. On the one hand the research findings can be disseminated formally, thereby developing the discourse around small firm regulation. On the other hand more discursive activities may be undertaken to facilitate deeper organisational learning. This might include targeted briefings for policymakers/regulators, researcher facilitated data interrogation (data are publically available via ESDS archive), and policy discussions with relevant government departments.



The small firm community can also derive use from the findings to promote growth and professionalisation through better management of regulation. This might include developing their practices in terms of how they think about regulation and how their processes, structures, and growth strategies might be enhanced as well as be able to mitigate any constraints associated with regulation.
The project develops a novel relational approach to the analysis of regulations and small firms and is significant because:

1. it provides a grounded assessment of the relationship between regulations and growth in small firms that problematises the idea that regulations are inevitably a burden, and shows how regulation can support growth.

2. our distinctive methodological approach generates contextually sensitive longitudinal and spatial data that improves understanding of how regulations are conceptualised, measured and enacted over time/space.

3. it is interdisciplinary, blending geography, management and entrepreneurship, to reveal the complex ways in which small firms adapt to and experience regulations.

4. it examines small firms in the context of an unusually broad range of mechanisms of social control (i.e. unintentional and non-state regulation, including supply chains and financial intermediaries).

5. it is 'multi-level' in its capture of influences of individual workers, owner-managers, regulatory agencies operating with different jurisdictions, and professional associations.

6. it demonstrates how individuals and small firms experience regulation over space and time by conceptualising firms as embedded in territorialised production and regulatory networks.
Sectors Security and Diplomacy

URL http://www.ncl.ac.uk/nubs/research/projects/rebel.htm
 
Description Comments on Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact We contributed to the development of an FSB report specifically by encouraging a more nuanced, evidence-based analysis of SME regulation
 
Description Enagagement with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact Following discussions during our steering groups and engagement workshops, we have been invited to present our findings at the HSE in November 2012. This is the first in what we expect will be a series of engagements with the HSE over the coming months/years.
 
Description Letters from Ministers of State
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact UK Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Rt Hon Vince Cable, sent representatives to our policy event on June 29th 2012. Ongoing engagement with this ministry and other government agencies is in progress. Further, BIS staff have said that our research is informing and framing their development of a more nuanced and fine-grained understanding of how SMEs respond to regulation.
 
Description Ongoing dialogue with staff at The Environment Agency
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact EA staff have requested and are now using some of our anonymised data to inform their evaluation and development of EA policy as it affects SMEs in the UK. They have also requested that this engagment process is deepened in the coming 12 months.
 
Description Post doctoral researcher small business regulation
Amount £84,298 (GBP)
Organisation Anglia Ruskin University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2012 
End 08/2014
 
Description Data analysis meeting 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Following Charlotte Danvers' involvement in the project steering group she was invited to spend the day with the project team in Newcastle to contribute to a data analysis session. Transcripts were anonymised for this particular session and Charlotte helped us to understand aspects of our data related to the Environment Agency and environmental issues generally. The following link gives details: http://www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home/microsites/iimp/news/iimp_director_advises.html
Start Year 2012
 
Description 'Enterprising regulation?' workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact ERC Enterprise Research Centre sponsored workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Britain in 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Small news item in ESRC publication 'Britain in 2014' titled 'Regulation needs', page 61.

Britain in 2014
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Health and safety themes : what our data suggests 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Meeting and presentation at Health and Safety Executive in Bootle, Liverpool

Following previous meetings and their involvement in the project steering group, a presentation focusing directly at health and safety aspects of the project's findings was given on 15th November 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description How do workers interpret health and safety laws and regulations, within the context of their everyday working lives? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Abstract of paper to be presented at the BSA Work, Employment and Society Conference 2013, Stream Name: After the State - Privatisation, deregulation, resistance, anarchy, decentralisation, Session Details:04/09/2013 at 09:00 - 10:30, Warwick University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Managing Regulation: What firms need to know 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Inaugural professorial lecture at Anglia Ruskin University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Meeting and discussions with New Zealand government civil servants 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact As part of a visit to New Zealand Centre for SME Research at Massey University and following a public lecture a meeting with 15 government civil servants was organised to discuss the implications of the research

Various
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Newcastle Finance and Financial Law Group Annual Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Panellist at workshop on 'High Cost credit' where some details of our firms' experiences were reported to an audience including academics, industry trade bodies, voluntary organisations and the Bank of England.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Regulation 'is good for small firms' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Article written by Simon Down in East Anglian Daily Times

East Anglian Daily Times
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.eadt.co.uk/business/features/insight_regulation_can_be_good_for_small_firms_1_2332531
 
Description SME regulation : building better policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Keynote Address 1

http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/research/centres-research/new-zealand-centre-for-sme-research/nzsmerc-events/20092012-sme-regulation-building-better-policy/20092012-sme-regulation-building-better-policy_home.cfm
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Situating small business regulation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Invited talk given about the project at the annual Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University Business School
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Society Now 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact ESRC Magazine

Society Now
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.esrc.ac.uk/_images/Society_Now_15_tcm8-25645.pdf
 
Description Strategic responses of growing firms to regulation over time : a longitudinal and behavioural analysis of the formalisation process 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This talk was given at the invitation of Prof Monder Ram, OBE from De Montfort University at the following event: Regulations and Small Firms: Boon or Burden? Seminar 3 - Small Firm Seminar Series 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description The Regulation of Business and the Business of Regulation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact A seminar presentation was delivered in response to an invitation to speak at Newcastle University Business School's research seminar series
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description strategic adaptation of growing firms to regulation: a longitudinal analysis of the informality-formality span 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation given at the Sheffield School of Management
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description strategic responses of growing firms to regulation over time: a longitudinal and behavioural analysis of the formalisation process - Strathclyde 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Seminar given in Glasgow at the invitation of Prof David Charles AcSS FeRSA, at European Policies Research Centre, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde, 40 George Street, Glasgow G1 1QE. There were around 20 people, four of which were from the Scottish Government
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013