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A review of small business literature part 1: Defining the small business

Tonge, Jane (2001) A review of small business literature part 1: Defining the small business. UNSPECIFIED. Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Small and micro businesses have a vital role to play (Stanworth and Gray, 1991) with small business accounting for 99 per cent of all businesses in the UK. The following paper examines the debate concerning the definition of small business, considering those put forward by the Bolton Committee Report (1971), the European Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry, as well as the academic community. A review of the literature reveals that there is no single, uniformly acceptable definition of a small firm (Storey, 1994). In practice, various meanings can be found which apply in different contexts. The heterogeneity of the small firm sector means it is often necessary to modify the various definitions advanced according to the particular sectoral, geographic or other contexts in which the small firm is being examined, by using such as 'grounded' definitions. The implication for research is that researchers are likely to have to continue using their own definitions of small enterprises which are appropriate to their particular 'target' group (Storey, 1994).

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