This thesis examines the role of small firms in two key areas of economic activity, employment creation and innovation generation, through an exploration of existing literature and an empirical study of small firms in the electronics manufacturing industry of South West England. The work focuses initially on the scale of the small firm sector in terms of employment and on the ability of small firms to generate new jobs. Theoretical perspectives on the factors affecting the apparent resurgence of the small firm sector in the last two decades are also considered, and the effects of recession on small firm sector growth are studied in the light of the new data collected. The study proceeds to a consideration of the role of small firms in innovation. Levels of innovative product development in the small firms are measured and the place of small firms within the process of innovation is examined. In particular the study develops the theme of cross-size sector inter-firm linkages and examines the potentially complementary nature of small firm and large firm innovative activity. The work contributes fresh data to the body of knowledge on small firm s in the UK. Further, it extends the debate on the underlying processes, adding to the theoretical basis from which the continuing development of the small firm sector in the UK may be examined. Finally future research directions and areas for government action are suggested.

Document Type


Publication Date