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Title: The role and performance of local business associations in rural service centres
Authors: Newbery, Robert Lowry
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Market towns act as service centres for socio-economic activity in rural areas. They provide a focus for economic activity and deliver essential services for those that lack access to larger regional centres. In the face of concerns over their future, some policy makers have attempted to safeguard and enhance their service role. One such approach has been to stimulate networks of firms operating in the locality in order to deliver business and community benefits. This thesis examines local business associations as an institutional mechanism that may contribute towards the socioeconomic role of market towns. As such it aims to identify the costs and benefits to members, measure the determinants of association performance and analyse the contribution to the service role of the market towns they serve. Members of local business associations in the rural North of England were surveyed as to the costs, benefits, attitudes and determinants of performance. The results show two groups of benefits, promotional and integrational. The more calculative promotional benefits are of greater importance to businesses with a non-local market. Integrational benefits are more important to in-migrant businesses seeking to embed themselves within the local social milieu. Key determinants of association performance were: a larger group size, homogeneity of sectors represented and higher levels of member trust. Effective leadership increased performance and overcame resistance to new ideas. These associations make a socio-economic contribution to market towns through the maintenance and development of local business and place based impacts and offer important benefits to members and the wider community.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

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