The implications of public sector small business advisers becoming strategic sounding boards: England and Scotland compared

Kevin F. Mole, William Keogh

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Changes have been made to systems of publicly funded business advice to implement a 'strategic sounding board' role for business advisers. Previous literature has shown how this role could be modelled in a 'coupole'. The 'coupole' administers a programme but does not deliver it. The shifting of policy towards this strategic sounding role takes place within the context of existing organisations, however. We review three streams of the literature on business advice: small firm policy, critical management consulting, and organisational development consulting. We introduce a triad of producer, process, and client to understand the implications of changes to the business adviser's role. The paper examines two case studies where public policy has changed to shift business advisers into this sounding board role: England and Scotland. The research suggests: (1) that the new role increases the skills demanded of public sector business advisers; (2) that changes to one part of the triad impacts on all the others; (3) the existing organisation contributes to the way in which the producers react to change in the other parts of the triad. The responses in the networked English support organisations have been innovative but fragmented with little evaluation. In the more hierarchical Scottish organisations, the response has been more measured, both in the sense of being cautious and in the sense of being evaluated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-97
    Number of pages21
    JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
    Volume21
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Keywords

    • Business advice
    • Business support
    • Institutional thickness
    • Small firm policy
    • Strategic sounding board

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