Small and medium-sized enterprise policy: Designed to fail?



Wapshott R & Mallett O (2018) Small and medium-sized enterprise policy: Designed to fail?. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36 (4), pp. 750-772.

Significant doubts persist over the effectiveness of government policy to increase the numbers or performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the UK economy. We analyse UK political manifestoes from 1964 to 2015 to examine the development of small and medium-sized enterprise policy in political discourse. We do this by analysing how the broadly defined category of ‘small- and medium-sized enterprise’ has been characterised in the manifestoes and assess these characterisations in relation to the empirical evidence base. We highlight three consistent themes in UK political manifestoes during 1964–2015 where small- and medium-sized enterprises have been characterised as having the potential for growth, struggling to access finance and being over-burdened by regulation. We argue that homogenising the broad range of businesses represented by the small- and medium-sized enterprise category and characterising them in these terms misrepresents them, undermining policies developed in relation to this mischaracterisation.

SME; policy; growth; finance; regulation

Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space: Volume 36, Issue 4

FundersNewcastle University
Publication date01/06/2018
Publication date online17/07/2017
Date accepted by journal12/06/2017
PublisherSAGE Publications

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Professor Oliver Mallett

Professor Oliver Mallett

Professor of Entrepreneurship, Management, Work and Organisation