Entrepreneurship in Homes and Neighbourhoods

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Geography

Abstract

Entrepreneurship and small firms are seen to have important roles in facilitating economic growth. Debates and policy strategies focus mainly on access to business capital and the creation of entrepreneurial environments in designated areas such as Enterprise Zones while a great potential for local growth occurs 'under the radar' of enterprise policy and business services: many people start their businesses from home, and many business owners operate mainly from their homes. Home-based businesses are very significant as at least half of all small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK and the US are home based, and the proportion of home-based businesses is rising over time. This applies to rural areas in particular, but is also apparent in suburban areas and cities. We expect that more people now use their homes to start-up their own businesses than prior to the economic crisis in 2007/08, because of rising unemployment and a drop in the level of business funding.

Entrepreneurial activities are also influenced by the local neighbourhood context. For example, local networks in the neighbourhoods where potential entrepreneurs live are important for generating and realising business ideas. For those who mainly run their business from home or those who want to set up a business, coffee shops or other local places are important for meetings and social networking. Successful entrepreneurs are also significant 'role models' for (young) people in their local neighbourhoods.

Despite the fact that homes and their local neighbourhood contexts are important for many entrepreneurial activities, there has been very little academic research on home-based businesses. The importance of homes and their local neighbourhood context for enterprising people is also largely ignored by policymakers. For example, social housing regulations have prevented people from using their homes for business purposes. In contrast to 'mainstream' enterprise policy and research, this Seminar Series seeks to develop new perspectives in local economic growth based on the notion that home-based business activities are essential to increase start up rates and to promote economically lagging and deprived communities.

Main topics we will work on with a group of international researchers from different disciplines, practitioners and policymakers over the duration of three years include:

- Understanding home-based businesses: Why the home? How entrepreneurial are they? Was the house chosen/designed with a business in mind?

- Home-based businesses and their local settings: What are their wider benefits for communities? Are they able to revitalise/stimulate villages and 'bedroom suburbs'? Can they act as driver of economic growth in rural/suburban/urban localities?

- Neighbourhoods and local networking: How can local authorities/communities stimulate start-ups, and how can they benefit from local entrepreneurship? How important are local neighbourhoods for the social networking of (potential) entrepreneurs?

- Planning, regulation, finance, and technology: To what extent are home-based businesses below the regulatory radar? How can home-based businesses be supported by planning and regulation?

An important aspect of this Seminar Series will be to engage with policymakers and practitioners. Two seminars will be hosted by key government bodies: the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and The Scottish Government.

It is also important to learn from other countries and their approaches to local economic growth and entrepreneurship. For example, Dutch researchers have developed innovative ways to think about local entrepreneurship by looking at the social capital of neighbourhoods for fostering entrepreneurial activities. One seminar will be hosted by the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment at the TU Delft (Netherlands). We will also invite international researchers and practitioners to seminars in the UK.

Planned Impact

This Seminar Series addresses the intertwined issues of entrepreneurship, housing, and neighbourhoods. The beneficiaries span different policy and practice areas, professional groups and academic disciplines:

- Policymakers in enterprise policy at UK, devolved, city and local levels, in particular the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), and equivalents in the devolved administrations and City Councils, will benefit through knowledge of the economic significance and wider benefits of home-based businesses in the UK and other countries and a better understanding of start-up processes and economic growth. Specifically, the Directorate for Business of the Scottish Government is interested in learning how to strengthen communities as part of their assets-based approach. BIS considers this Seminar Series as important for the work of its 'Local Growth' team. The Barnet Council and the London Assembly Economy Committee at the Greater London Authority have indicated interest to actively engage in the Seminar Series in relation to developing their future local economic growth strategies.
- Policymakers in housing and neighbourhood policy, in particular the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Homes and Communities Agency and equivalents in the devolved administrations, will benefit from this Seminar Series in understanding the links between housing and neighbourhood policy with enterprise policy, and the economic outcomes of housing.
- Business support services and sub-national economic development agencies (e.g. Business Gateway), will gain a better understanding of how people start-up businesses and the needs of home-based businesses. This is of relevance for national/regional funding schemes and advice services.
- The Seminar Series will be of relevance for lenders in better understanding the nature of home-based businesses, access to business finance, and barriers to economic growth.
- Home-based business networks such as Enterprise Nation will benefit through contacts to policymakers and the development of networks to researchers established by regular seminars and the JISC mailing list.
- Social housing providers and house builders will learn how entrepreneurship can be facilitated in social housing and through house design. In particular, social housing providers will benefit from networks to policymakers to discuss future regulations in social housing. This is of relevance given that the most recent round of welfare reforms will have a significant impact on the under-occupancy rule ('bedroom tax') from April 2013.
- This Seminar Series is of relevance for the entrepreneurship community across different academic disciplines. Entrepreneurship researchers in economics and economic geography will benefit from the exploration of theories in other social sciences including neighbourhood effects and neighbourhood change, housing, social capital, community development and assets, social economy, and empowerment. This cross-fertilisation of ideas and theories will enable a better understanding of the economic outcomes of individual behaviour.
- The interdisciplinary nature of the Seminar series will add to housing and neighbourhood research across disciplines by developing linkages between neighbourhood change and community development with agglomeration and cluster theory, economic behaviour, and economic growth. This will enable a better understanding of the economies of neighbourhoods and the role of housing in the economy.

There is the potential for exploitation of outcomes of this Seminar Series in the UK, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. In the short term, new strategies for economic growth in local authorities/communities could be developed based on empirical evidence and international practices discussed in the seminars. In the long term, new policy and institutional connections may be encouraged by the outcomes of this Seminar Series across the UK.

Publications

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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
ES/L001489/1 01/11/2013 31/07/2016 £30,412
ES/L001489/2 Transfer ES/L001489/1 01/09/2016 31/01/2017 £12,914
 
Description The seminar series has brought together academics from different disciplines that would usually not meet at seminars. The feedback from participants has been very positive and we were particularly thanked for the interdisciplinary stimulation that our seminars created. Fruitful cross-fertilisations in particular emerged between management/business studies and housing studies - this was the focus of the co-edited book published in 2015 with Edward Elgar. Particularly outstanding was here that contributors did something completely new, for example housing researchers thought about links with entrepreneurship and business and business/management researchers connected entrepreneurship with homes. A second new interdisciplinary field emerged between WebScience/engineering and work/entrepreneurship studies. This is the focus of the Special Issue in Futures we are currently working on. The international nature of the seminars revealed the relevance of new types of business and working internationally - both in the Global North and South - including in the UK, Europe, Africa, the USA and South America.
Exploitation Route Governments and organisations representing the self-employed and micro-entreprises may use it to better understand local economic development and foster inclusive entrepreneurship. Dr Reuschke started to work with the OECD on home-based businesses in 2017; a workshop was jointly organised at the OECD in Paris in 2017 and the policy brief on Home-based businesses was published in December 2018.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy

URL http://www.entrepreneurship-space.com
 
Description Non-academic stakeholders took part in most of the seminars. In particular, the Scottish Government has published a Guide to Home-based Businesses. This non-academic output can directly be linked to the Seminar Series and the research work Dr Darja Reuschke and Prof Colin Mason have conducted in this area. The Scottish Government hosted one event in the series in their premises in Edinburgh. Based on this successful event with its stimulating discussions and international evidence (e.g. Sweden and Spain) they continued seminars in this area of new working and new business. Dr Reuschke was invited to speak at these events including in Glasgow in 2016. Further, and equally relevant, IPSE, the biggest think tank of the professional self-employed in the UK participated in the last seminar in October in 2016 in Southampton. Since then Dr Reuschke has been established a relationship with them including a report on social media and freelancers which was published and made available to the wider public in 2017 on their website. We are now working on a partner agreement between IPSE and the University of Southampton to formalise our collaboration. In follow-on work from this grant, the PI has worked together with the OECD and published an OECD policy brief on Home-based businesses (December 2018).
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Bringing Microbusinesses and Home-based Businesses out from the Shadows
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact The Scottish Government has developed a home-based business guide (Enterprise and Cities Division) involving many departments/divisions, e.g. rural area, digital economy, entrepreneurship, planning and local authorities following on from our seminars and research inputs. We provided information and research evidence to inform this consultation.
URL https://www.mygov.scot/home-based-business/
 
Description ERC Starting Grant
Amount € 1,431,000 (EUR)
Funding ID WORKANDHOME 639403 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2020
 
Description Home-based business survey
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Federation of Small Business (FSB) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 10/2015
 
Description Urban Studies Foundation Seminar Series
Amount £18,800 (GBP)
Funding ID Spatial Reconfigurations of Work in Cities 
Organisation Urban Studies Foundation 
Start 09/2016 
End 03/2018
 
Title Microbusiness Research Portal 
Description The Microbusiness Portal provides a literature database including academic and non-academic publications in relation to micro-enterprise. It further provides a database with information on available secondary data sources researchers can use for their research on micro-enterprises including home-based businesses. Here we provide bespoke information on what type of business activity is captured and what researchers can investigate with respective datasets. All datasets are for the UK only and the search is based on the UK Data Service. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The Microbusiness Portal is used by researchers to search for existing literature and data on topics related to self-employment and micro-enterprises according to google statistics and personal feedback. Board members are active in providing new information and the first public seminar was organised in 2016 at the Middlesex University attracting researchers from the whole of the UK. Over the period of 13th March 2016 to 13th March 2017, we counted a total of 1,432 users and 5,356 page views. Just below one fourth of the users were returning users (23.3%). Users came mostly from the USA (46%) and the UK (43%) with some further users from Europe, for example 26 from Germany. The Microbusiness Research Portal has an active advisory board including industry and government as well as renewed researchers in business and management studies including the Scottish Government (Karen Halford), Emma Jones (Enterprise Nation), Professor Jonathan Levie (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde), Charlotte Chung (Federation of Small Businesses), Lorence Nye (IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), Prabhat Vaze (Belmana Consultancy). We use blogs to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, for example from the Social Market Foundation on 'Self-employment: The missing piece of the puzzle' or Prof Jonathan Levie on 'reluctant entrepreneurs'. 
URL http://microbusiness.ac.uk/
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Middlesex University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation Office for National Statistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department Department of Geography and Environment
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Based on a partnership agreement between MU, St Andrews (transferred to Southampton) and the ONS, we developed an online research portal which provides information and datasources on microbusiness (http://microbusiness.ac.uk/). It aims at policy-makers, practitioners and academics. In particular, it aims to raise the awareness in policy, economic development, business practice and research of how important microbusinesses are. At the moment, the portal provides data and information on microbusiness for the UK. We also seek to use the portal as networking means and to encourage research in this under-researched area. Board members comprise non-academic and academic partners. Non-acadmic partners include the Scottish Government and IPSE (Organisation of the professional self-employed and freelancers)
Collaborator Contribution BIS provided bespoke data for the portal and on-going advice. The ONS reviewed data sources and publications against their data quality criteria and provided one internship for literature research, MU developed the website and administers the website (blogs, tweets and so on). St Andrews developed the literature database and the microdata database using a Research Assistant (funded by the department) and a student intern (funded by the University).
Impact It is of relevance for all interested in business, enterprise and self-employment across the social sciences including management and geography.
Start Year 2015
 
Title Microbusiness Research Portal 
Description The online portal is an output of the seminar series. It provides information and data on microbusiness. It aims at policy-makers, practitioners, academics and the general public. 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed Yes
Impact The copyright of the website is with the Middlesex University.
 
Description Consultation of Scottish Government on Home-based business 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Together with the Scottish Government we organised one seminar focussing on policy issues in relation to home-based businesses, particularly targeting planning and business policy. The Scottish Government followed up with a consultation how to provide an information basis on home-based business with the aim to foster home grown businesses. Involved were local business support services and within the Scottish Government the Small Business policy unit, town planning and rural planning. Dr Reuschke (PI) and Prof Colin Mason (Co-I) informed the discussion.

The consultation was led by Karen Halford, Enterprise Support Policy Manager, Scottish Government, Enterprise and Cities Division, Local Economic Development, Tel: 0141 278 8179 (extension 41179) | email: karen.halford@gov.scot

Outcome of the consultation was a home-based business guide which is live on the Scottish Government website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.mygov.scot/home-based-business/
 
Description Microbusiness Research Portal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Microbusiness Research Portal was launched at the last seminar on 22nd Jan 2016 in Edinburgh. The online research portal incorporates a blog. The seminar was attended by 66 participants, mostly from the Scottish Government and practitioners in economic development and business support. The blog on the website is meant to engage with policy and practitioners. We encouraged everybody to use the blog. The Microbusiness Portal is active on Twitter and has reached already a decent amount of followers including BIS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://microbusiness.ac.uk/
 
Description Six successful seminars 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Between 2014 and 2016 we organised six seminars (9 seminar days) as proposed:
- 2 day seminar, January 2014, University of Glasgow
- 1 day seminar, September 2014, Middlesex University
- 1 day seminar, Jan 2015, BIS, London
- 2 day seminar, Sep 2015, TU Delft
- 1 day seminar, Jan 2016, Scottish Government, Edinburgh
- 2 day seminar, Sep 2016, Southampton

We achieved out goal that some participants come to all/most of the seminars. We could built a group working on micro-enterprise and home-based businesses that work together on follow-on research projects, papers and seminar series. In total, we reached an estimated number of 180 researchers in the UK, Europe, US, South Africa.

NB The website link for the seminar series: http://generic.wordpress.soton.ac.uk/homebusiness (I was unable to copy it in the URL field below)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016