Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain, Vol.30 (No.4)

The Open University Business School (2014). Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain, Vol.30 (No.4). The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

URL: http://www.open.ac.uk/business-school/sites/www.op...


This special issue marks a particular milestone: it is now three decades since the Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain began the task of monitoring emerging trends and examining the experiences and opinions of business owners and managers. In this report, we have assembled contributions from a variety of sources with the following aims: to shed some new light on this important period in the history of small firms’ research in the UK; to explore the main changes and continuities in the small firms landscape over this extended period; and lastly, to draw some lessons for future work in this important research field. The remainder of the report comprises three parts: Section 2 sets out the historical background to the launch of the Quarterly Survey in 1984. This includes an account of the highly influential Bolton Committee Report of 1971, drafted by John Bolton’s biographer, and personal accounts from two small business specialists who were directly involved in establishing the Quarterly Survey. Section 3 opens with a small selection of the survey’s research topics and findings over the last 30 years. This is followed by a review of the technical challenges of conducting survey-based research, particularly when the work extends over such a long period, and an assessment of the Quarterly Survey’s contribution to the SME research and policy communities. We also hear from the editor in chief of the International Small Business Journal, which was also established in the early 1980s, on the challenges of establishing an academic publication that addresses the issues faced by smaller firms. In Section 4, some of our longest-serving panel respondents discuss the trends and changes that their businesses have faced over this period and comment on the prospects for 2015. They also reflect on the experience of completing all of those survey questionnaires. Section 5 offers some brief concluding remarks and comments on possible future directions for research of this kind.

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