• An Institutional Perspective on Entrepreneurship in a Conflict Environment: Evidence from Pakistan

      Muhammad, Noor; Ullah, Farid; Warren, Lorraine; Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) Pakistan; University of Chester; Massey University, New Zealand (Emerald, 2016-06-02)
      Purpose In this paper, an institutional perspective is used to examine the different kinds of pressures on entrepreneurs manifest in a conflict environment. The study investigates how they respond to the conflict and establish legitimacy for their entrepreneurship in the challenging context of the north western areas of Pakistan. Design/methodology/approach In this study, a qualitative approach is taken based on semi-structured interviews from 16 different firms in the SWAT valley. Findings The entrepreneurs undertake different strategies towards dealing with conflict and establishing legitimacy. These strategies are identified and examined in relation to the interactions between entrepreneurial behaviour and institutional pressures. Research limitations/implications Qualitative research on a small sample inevitably presents a limitation on the generalisability of this work. Further research could employ quantitative methods to address this issue. One particular location is studied, so future research could be carried out in other countries or regions with similar problems. Practical implications The study may have value for policy makers who need to know more about how to support ongoing businesses in conflictual regions. Social implications Better understanding of the needs of small business may in time contribute to a better business climate in conflictual regions. Originality/value A new dimension is added to institutional theory through its application in the very uncertain environment between all out war and ongoing violence, identifying the possibility of weak agency for institutional change. Further, the study contributes to the growing body of literature on entrepreneurship in conflict environments. Keywords: Conflict, institutions, SMEs, Pakistan, entrepreneur, legitimacy Paper Type: Research paper
    • Challenges and Issues facing Ethnic Minority Small Business Owners: The Scottish experience

      Ullah, Farid; Rahman, Zillur; Thompson, Piers; University of Chester (SAGE, 2018-01-23)
      Abstract Studies investigating the challenges and barriers faced by ethnic minority entrepreneurs have often concentrated on areas where there is a large supportive ethnic minority community. Less work has been conducted on the experience of those entrepreneurs operating in cities where such ethnic resources may be less widely available. Considered from the perspective of mixed embeddedness framework, this study uses face-to-face interviews with 25 ethnic minority entrepreneurs to gain a greater understanding of the constraints experienced by the starting and running businesses in one such location, the Scottish city of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. Although issues found by previous studies such as access to funding remain an issue, the entrepreneurs indicated problems with access to labour as United Kingdom Border Agency’s immigration rules and tightening of the Post Study Work visa have had a profound effect on these entrepreneurs. The results imply that the weakening of the ethnic resource microsphere has not opened up opportunities which are exploited by the entrepreneurs, but they have still been exposed to external forces from the regulatory macrosphere. Both entrepreneurs and policymakers need to think carefully about the retention, training and recruitment of staff. In particular, the wider ramifications of immigration rule changes need to be considered, but also whether entrepreneurs need to be more open to the potential of recruiting non-ethnic employees and if so what support is required to achieve this.
    • Funding the growth of UK technology-based small firms since the financial crash: are there breakages in the finance escalator?

      North, David; Baldock, Robert; Ullah, Farid; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2013-07-04)
      This paper presents recent research assessing the impact of the financial crisis on young and established Technology-Based Small Firms (TBSFs) and considers whether their ability to contribute to economic growth is being affected by ongoing problems in obtaining external finance. It reports on original findings from a survey of 100 TBSFs undertaken in late 2010 as well as 20 in-depth interviews with a range of finance providers. The surviving TBSFs exhibited considerable demand for external finance since 2007, particularly for working capital and early stage R&D, sought mainly from banks, but also with younger TBSFs seeking business angel finance and innovation grants and more mature TBSFs seeking venture capital finance. However, both debt and equity finance have become harder to access for TBSFs, particularly for early stage funding and for more R&D intensive firms, hampering their growth potential. Where external finance has been available, the terms and conditions set by providers were often unacceptable to business owners. The paper concludes that the smooth operation of the finance escalator has proved difficult to achieve under recent financial conditions and identifies a number of breakpoints relating to TBSFs which government policy needs to address.
    • The condition of smallness; how what it means to be small deters firms from getting bigger

      Anderson, Alistair; Ullah, Farid; University of Chester (Emerald, 2014-12-12)
      Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine and explain why most small firms remain small. A new conceptual framework – the condition of smallness – is proposed. Design/methodology/approach – A critical examination of the literature about the nature of being a small firm is first conducted. Employing an inductive analysis of responses from a survey of 2,521 small business owners about employment regulation, the nature and effects of smallness is examined. Findings – It was found that owners' choice making combines with perceptions about their resources to produce a condition of smallness. The condition of smallness is conceptualised as the circularity perceptions, attitudes and consequent practices that reflect lack of knowledge, time and capability. It is argued that this condition of smallness inhibits growth to create a wicked problem that explains why most small firms don't grow. Research limitations/implications – This work is largely conceptual, albeit the argument is grounded in, and illustrated by, empirical data. The findings may not be generalisable beyond this paper's data sets, but may be generalisable conceptually. Originality/value – The focus of much scholarly work has been on growth firms. Yet the typical small firm is excluded so that the issues of smallness are often overlooked. This paper, therefore contributes to understanding why small firms don't grow.
    • The Impact of the Financial Crisis on the Financing and Growth of Young and Established Technology-Based Small Firms in the United Kingdom in New Technology-Based Firms in the New Millennium book series

      Baldock, Robert; North, David; Ullah, Farid (emerald, 2015-11-20)
      This paper presents the findings of some recent UK research to assess the impact of the recent financial crisis on Technology-Based Small Firms (TBSFs). It reports on findings from an extended telephone survey with the owner-managers of 49 young and 51 more mature TBSFs, undertaken in 2010. It has commonly been thought that TBSFs face greater obstacles in accessing finance, than conventional SMEs. Even before the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007, research evidence indicated that the growth and development of TBSFs in the UK was hindered by a shortage of external finance. This is because banks have difficulty assessing the viability of new high technology business ventures due to information asymmetries, whilst other financiers such as venture capitalists and business angels may be unable to provide appropriate and sufficient funds on terms that are acceptable to entrepreneurs. It is therefore argued that the development of TBSFs is adversely affected by market failures and the existence of a finance gap, particularly affecting new and early stage TBSFs. Given the difficulties that SMEs in general have faced in obtaining external finance in recent years, it seems reasonable to expect that TBSFs have been particularly adversely affected by the financial crisis. Our research demonstrates that TBSFs exhibited a relatively strong demand for external finance over the 2007-2010 period, seeking finance mainly from banks, but also with younger TBSFs seeking business angel finance and innovation grants and more mature TBSFs seeking venture capital finance. The evidence is that both debt and equity finance became harder to access for TBSFs, particularly for early stage funding and for more R&D intensive firms. Moreover, where funding was offered, it was often insufficient or on unacceptable terms. The paper provides further evidence of a growing funding gap and concludes that the ability of TBSFs to respond to the economic recovery is being hampered by ongoing problems in obtaining the external finance needed for business growth.
    • The ‘Fairness Paradox’ and ‘Small-Firm Growth Resistance Strategies’

      Ullah, Farid; Smith, Robert (Emerald, 2015-06-10)
      Purpose – We examine and explore why ‘Small-Businesses’ resist employing outside the immediate family and investigate the employee as an outsider and entrepreneurial resource. Design/methodology/approach – We review the literature on barriers to small-business growth concentrating on key empirical and theoretical studies. We use empirical data from the Federation of Small Business (FSB) in which informants commented on growth and employing outside the family. Findings – The findings suggest that small business owners adopt a polemical stance, arguing that a barrage of employment regulations deters them from employing outsiders because doing so brings trouble in terms of costs such as insurance, taxes, paperwork, leave (maternity and paternity) entitlement etc. They argue that employing from inside the family or ones peer group is much cheaper, convenient and less hassle. This ignores the entrepreneurial employee as a potential ingredient of growth and points to a paradox whereby the very values and emotions characterised by fairness of which of ‘smallness’ and ‘familialness’ is composed compound the issues of discrimination central to the debate. Research limitations/implications – We offer important insights for growth issues among small businesses and challenge the contemporary equilibrium in terms of small ‘family-orientated’ business philosophy relating to employment practices. Ideologically, the entrepreneur is an “outsider” fighting the establishment, yet paradoxically, in a small business context s/he becomes the establishment by employing outsiders. This results in the fairness versus unfairness paradox. Originality/value – We contribute to the existing knowledge and understanding on growth issues among small businesses by illuminating a paradoxical insider versus outsider tension.
    • What influences ethnic entrepreneurs’ decision to start up: Some evidence from Aberdeen, Scotland

      Ullah, Farid; Rahman, Md Zillur; Smith, Robert; Beloucif, Ahmed; University of Chester (Emerald, 2016-11-21)
      ABSTRACT The purpose of this paper is to investigate the factors that influences ethnic entrepreneurs decision making to start a new business in Aberdeen, Scotland. By doing so, this paper investigates the motives, drivers and attitudes of ethnic minorities towards entrepreneurship opportunities in Aberdeen, Scotland. Using qualitative data, we explore the motivational factors of 25 ethnic entrepreneurs by conducting in depth face to face interviews with them. Our results reveal some interesting motivational factors which influences ethnic entrepreneurs decision to dive in and starting up a new venture in Aberdeen, Scotland. Some of these include a positive mind set or attitude, self-efficacy, strong determination, market research knowledge (due diligence), good financial management, and knowing the local business culture along with others.