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Exploring success factors that are critical for micro, small and medium sized businesses in the Northwest of England: Does the size of the enterprise influence the criticality of the factor?

Wilson, A (2022) Exploring success factors that are critical for micro, small and medium sized businesses in the Northwest of England: Does the size of the enterprise influence the criticality of the factor? Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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It is stressed that the positive performance of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is integral for the growth and advancements of regional, national and world economies. In spite of this, the performance of SMEs within specific regions is often varied with some regions outperforming others. The Northwest of England is traditionally a low performing region that has been starved of funding and job creation, often halting its overall contribution to the UK economy. However, the region is experiencing a resurge in its level of entrepreneurial spirit, enterprise creation, and sits behind the West Midlands and London only, in terms of SME birth rates. Worryingly, however, it possesses the second highest death rate of all UK regions with no logical or clear explanation for this issue. Yet, there is a severe lack of literature that provides regional focus on high potential and high performing regions such as the Northwest of England. Critical success factors (CSFs) are a long-established mechanism for monitoring and sustaining the performance of an enterprise. They have long been identified as a key part of strategizing towards success in business management. The identification of such factors is crucial to aid understanding and to help facilitate the survival and positive performance of SMEs. Therefore, this research will seek to address a literature gap and investigate success factors that are critical to success for North-western SMEs. An extensive literature review was firstly undertaken, revealing a large abundance of factors mentioned in the literature. Crucially, the literature revealed the ever-present issue of heterogeneity that impacts the accuracy of concluding whether a factor is of critical nature in varying contexts. The issue of heterogeneity is consistently highlighted as a problem, yet the homogenous term ‘SME’ continues to be applied with the assumption that critical success factors are of equal importance for all SME sizes. Therefore, a further research gap was identified. This being, does heterogeneity influence the level of criticalness when considering the three different sized businesses (micro, small and medium) included in the homogenous term SME. For this research, a post-positivist philosophy was adopted with an abductive approach. A mixed-method approach was employed, firstly conducting a critical literature review to unearth the CSFs that are repeatedly mentioned in related literature. Secondly, semi-structured interviews were utilised to gain the expert opinion as to whether the critical success factors discovered in the literature were of a critical nature to the Northwest of England, and to uncover the mechanics behind why the factor is regarded as critical. NVIVO 12 was employed to assist the analysis of qualitative data and 26 factors were confirmed as critical to success with 116 subthemes being discovered as to the reasons why they are considered critical. Following this, a self-administrated survey was created and distributed to SME owners registered in the Northwest of England with 207 surveys being received and valid for usage. SPSS 27 was employed in the analysis of the demographic statistics, along with the analysis techniques employed to generate interfernal statistics to satisfy the research aim, questions, and objectives. The quantitative findings discovered that 23 of the 26 factors were considered critical to success for micro sized businesses, 25 of the 26 were deemed critical for small sized businesses and 25 of the 26 were deemed critical for medium sized businesses. Additionally, the One-way ANOVA and post-hoc tests revealed that 8 of the 26 factors possessed a statistically significant difference. The Pearson correlation results revealed a host of varying correlations that differed greatly when comparing the sized businesses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: SME; CSF; Success; Heterogeneity; Homogeneity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Divisions: Liverpool Business School
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2022 10:50
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2022 13:05
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00016543
Supervisors: Fillis, I, O'Brien, S, Kok, SK, Papagiannis, F and Shore, A
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16543
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