Education, mobility and rural business development

Bosworth, Gary (2009) Education, mobility and rural business development. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 16 (4). pp. 660-677. ISSN 1462-6004

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Purpose – In a period of rural economic change, knowledge and skills transfers and the generation of new economic opportunities are seen as essential for promoting rural development. The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence of the impact of educated in-migrants establishing new business activity in rural areas.
Design/methodology/approach – The research employs qualitative interviews with rural business owners informed by an earlier postal survey of rural microbusinesses in the North East of England. The interview data are used to explore the implications of owners’ past education and work
experience for the development of their businesses. The attitudes and networking behaviour of business owners are also explored in order to assess the extent to which social capital facilitates the exchange of valuable knowledge and opportunities between rural businesses.
Findings – Data indicate that rural in-migrants, defined as having moved at least 30 miles as adults, arrive with significantly higher education qualifications than their local business-owning counterparts. It also indicates that those with higher levels of education are most likely to engage with networking groups and business advice providers. This leads to the conclusion that as well as
bringing higher levels of human capital, the integration of in-migrants into local economies is indirectly increasing the potential levels of human and social capital across the rural economy.
Originality/value – The research highlights important data concerning the levels of education among in-migrants and local business owners. It continues by developing theoretical explanations about the way that a business owner’s background can influence their business activity. This raises awareness of the diversity of skills and networks among rural business owners that are enhancing the stocks of human and social capital in the rural economy.

Keywords:Rural economy, Business skills, Human Capital, Counterurbanisation, Education, Entrepreneurship, Knowledge exchange, Business networks, Social capital
Subjects:L Social studies > L721 Economic Geography
N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:2695
Deposited On:14 Jun 2010 14:52

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