Gender and the use of business advice:evidence from firms in the Scottish service sector

Robson, Paul J. A. and Jack, Sarah L. and Freel, Mark S. (2008) Gender and the use of business advice:evidence from firms in the Scottish service sector. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 26 (2). pp. 292-314. ISSN 0263-774X

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Within the UK the levels of female entrepreneurship are considerably lower than in many of its peer countries. As part of a strategy to remedy this apparent shortfall, and to improve the environment for existing female-owned businesses, the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched a ‘Strategic Framework for Women’s Enterprise’ in 2003. A central rationale for the development of this strategy is a belief in the inadequacies of current business-advice provision and limited access to informal and formal business networks, mentors, and business support for women. However, there appears to be little evidence, either in this paper or in the body of previous research, to support the view that, within the UK, government agencies need to shape business support to reflect the gender of the business user. Drawing upon a sample of 650 small service sector firms in Scotland, we report the findings of a detailed postal questionnaire concerned with exploring usage and satisfaction of a range of formal and informal sources of business advice amongst male and female business owners. Bivariate analysis shows that amongst formal sources women are more likely to use friends and relatives, the Small Business Gateway, and chambers of commerce but are less likely to use suppliers and consultants. However, multivariate analysis suggests that, within the service sector, neither use of external advice nor impact of advice—either formal or informal—is greatly influenced by gender. Rather, it was the characteristics of service sector firms, most notably the number of employees and exporting activity, that explained the use of external advice. Therefore, a nongendered view of business support by the DTI appears more appropriate within the service sector. Nevertheless, the data do indicate more frequent use of informal family-network contacts amongst women business owners.

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Journal Article
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Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy
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11 Jul 2011 18:26
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18 Sep 2023 00:25