Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
In This Section

European Countryside

The Journal of Mendel University in Brno

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.69

Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.248

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
In This Section
Volume 3, Issue 3 (Jan 2011)


Expanding horizons: local embeddedness and local engagement among small firms in the European countryside

Andrew Copus
  • Nordic Centre for Spatial Development Stockholm
/ Alexandre Dubois
  • Nordic Centre for Spatial Development Stockholm
/ Moa Hedström
  • Nordic Centre for Spatial Development Stockholm
Published Online: 2012-01-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10091-012-0002-y

Expanding horizons: local embeddedness and local engagement among small firms in the European countryside

The relative importance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), of local embeddedness and engagement with the wider economic and technical environment has been a subject of debate, in the context of regional development, for some years. There is increasingly general acceptance that both are essential for regional development. This paper considers the role and characteristics of business networks within the structural shift of the rural economy, away from local resource based activities towards a more diversified 'New Rural Economy'. A better understanding of the relative importance of local and wider networking by rural SMEs is crucial for more effective policy, especially that intended to support rural-urban interaction and cooperation. Findings from a case study in Northern Sweden are presented.

Den relativa betydelsen för små och medelstora företag (SMF) av dels lokal förankring, och dels vidare förbindelser i ett större ekonomiskt och tekniskt sammanhang, har debatterats inom ramen för regional utveckling i ett antal år. Att båda är viktiga för regional utveckling är allt mer allmänt accepterat. I den här artikeln studeras företagsnätverks roll och egenskaper inom den strukturella förändringen av landsbygdens ekonomi, där utvecklingen går från aktiviteter baserade på lokala naturresurser mot en mer diversifierad ekonomi på landsbygden ("New Rural Economy"). En bättre förståelse för den relativa betydelsen av SMFs lokala så väl som vidare nätverkande är avgörande för en effektivare policy, särskilt för den som riktas mot interaktion och samarbete mellan stad och land. Resultat från en fallstudie i norra Sverige presenteras.

Keywords: Business networks; global; rural; embeddedness; new rural economy; SME

Keywords: Företagsnätverk; global; rural; förankring; nya ekonomin på landsbygden; SMF

  • Asheim, B. (1996). Industrial Districts as Learning Regions: a Condition for Prosperity, European Planning Studies, 4(4), 379-400. Doi: 10.1080/09654319608720354. [Crossref]

  • Asheim, B. T. (1999). Innovation, Social Capital and Regional Clusters: and the Importance of Co-operative Interactive Learning and Localised Knowledge in Learning Economies, Regional Studies Association International Conference, Bilbao.

  • Barca, F. (2009). An Agenda for a reformed cohesion policy, A place-based approach to meeting European Union challenges and expectations. [Independent Report prepared at the request of Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy].

  • Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (2004). Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipe-lines and the process of knowledge creation, Progress in Human Geography, 28(1), 31-56. Doi: 10.1191/0309132504ph469oa. [Crossref]

  • Beccatini, G., Bellandi, M., Dei Ottati, G. & Sforzi, F. (2003). From Industrial Districts to Local Development: An Itinerary of Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

  • Bellandi, M. (1989). Small firms and industrial districts in Italy. London: Routledge.

  • Belussi, F. (1996). Local Systems, Industrial Districts and Institutional Networks: Towards a New Evolutionary Paradigm of Industrial Economics? European Planning Studies, 4(1), 5-22. Doi: 10.1080/09654319608720326. [Crossref]

  • Borgatti, S. P., Everett, M. G. & Freeman, L. C. (2002). Ucinet for Windows: Software for Social Network Analysis. Harvard, MA: Analytic Technologies.

  • Boschma, R. A. (2005). Proximity and Innovation: a critical assessment, Regional Studies 39(1), 61-74. Doi: 10.1080/0034340052000320887. [Crossref]

  • CPMR (1997). Towards a Balanced Europe: From Peripheries to Large Integrated Maritime Units, Rennes.

  • Cooke, P. & Morgan, M. (1998) The Associational Economy - Firms, Regions, and Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Copus, A. K., Gourlay, D., & Williams, F. (2000). "Holding down the Global"; Regional Milieux, Innovation, and Economic Vitality in the Periphery, Paper presented at ‘European Rural Policy at the Crossroads’ International Conference, Arkleton Centre, University of Aberdeen. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/irr/arkleton/conf2000/papers.shtml http://www.abdn.ac.uk/irr/arkleton/conf2000/papers.shtml

  • Copus, A. K., Courtney, P., Dax, T., Meredith, D., Noguera, J., Shucksmith, M. & Talbot, H. (2011). Final Report, ESPON 2013 project EDORA (European Development Opportunities for Rural Areas, Project 2013/1/2. http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_Projects/Menu_AppliedResearch/edora.html

  • Crescenzi, R. (2005). Innovation and regional growth in the enlarged Europe: The role of local innovative capabilities, peripherality, and education. Growth and Change 36(4), 471-507. Doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2257.2005.00291.x. [Crossref]

  • Davenport, S. (2005). Exploring the role of proximity in SME knowledge-acquisition. Research Policy 34(5), 683-701. Doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2005.03.006. [Crossref]

  • Drejer, I. & Lund Vinding, A. (2007). Searching Near and Far: Determinants of Innovative Firms' Propensity to Collaborate Across Geographical Distance. Industry and Innovation 14(3), 259-275. Doi: 10.1080/13662710701369205. [Crossref]

  • Dubois, A., Copus, A. & Hedström, M. (2011). Local embeddedness and global links in rural areas: Euclidean and Relational Space in Business Networks, in Hedberg, C. & Carmo, R. M. D. (Eds.) ‘Translocal ruralism’: Mobility and connectivity in European rural spaces (pp. 103-121). Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer.

  • European Commission (1995) Cohesion and the Development Challenge Facing the Lagging Regions, Luxembourg.

  • European Commission (2008). Green Paper on Territorial Cohesion. Turning territorial diversity into strength, COM(2008) 616 final.

  • Feser, J. & Bergman, E. M. (2000). National Industry Cluster Templates: A Framework for Applied Regional Cluster Analysis, Regional Studies 34(1), 1-19. Doi: 10.1080/00343400050005844. [Crossref]

  • Fujita, M., Krugman, P. & Venables, A. (1999). The Spatial Economy; Cities, Regions and International Trade. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

  • Garretsen, H. & Martin, R. (2010). 'Rethinking (New) Economic Geography Models: Taking Geography and History More Seriously'. Spatial Economic Analysis, 5(2), 127-160. Doi: 10.1080/17421771003730729. [Crossref]

  • Goetz, S. J. & Rupasingha, A. (2002). High-tech clustering: Implications for rural areas. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 84(5), 1229-1236. Doi: 10.1111/1467-8276.00383. [Crossref]

  • Granovetter, M. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties, The American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360-1380. [Crossref]

  • Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic Action and Social Structure: The problem of Embeddedness, The American Journal of Sociology 91(3), 481-510. [Crossref]

  • Hallin, G. & Malmberg, A. (1996). Attraction, Competition and Regional Development in Europe. European Urban and Regional Studies 3(4), 323-337. Doi: 10.1177/096977649600300404. [Crossref]

  • Harrison, B. (1992). Industrial Districts: Old Wine in New Bottles? Regional Studies 26(5), 469-483. Doi: 10.1080/00343409212331347121. [Crossref]

  • Herdzina, K., Findeis, A., Fleischmann, S., Wander, C., Piasecki, B. & Rogut, A. (2004). European rural SMEs in the context of Globalization and Enlargement, in Labrianidis, L. (2004), The future of Europe's rural peripheries (pp. 198-222). Aldershot: Ashgate.

  • Hirschman, A. (1958). The Strategy of Economic Development. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  • Huggins, R. & Johnston, A. (2009). Knowledge Networks in an Uncompetitive Region: SME Innovation and Growth. Growth and Change 40(2), 227-259. Doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2257.2009.00474.x. [Crossref]

  • Johannisson, B., Ramirez-Pasillas, M. & Karlsson, G. (2002). The institutional embeddedness of local inter-firm networks: a leverage for business creation. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development. 14(4), 297-315. Doi: 10.1080/08985620210142020. [Crossref]

  • Johansson, B. & Quigley, J. M. (2004). Agglomeration and Networks in Spatial Economics, Papers in Regional Science 83(1), 165-176. Doi: 10.1007/s10110-003-0181-z. [Crossref]

  • Kaufmann, A. & Tödtling, F. (2000). Systems of Innovation in Traditional Industrial Regions: The Case of Styria in a Comparative Perspective, Regional Studies 34(1), 29-40. Doi: 10.1080/00343400050005862. [Crossref]

  • Keeble, D., Lawson, C., Moore, B. & Wilkinson, F. (1999). Collective Learning Processes, Networking and "Institutional Thickness" in the Cambridge Region, Regional Studies 33(4), 319-332. Doi: 10.1080/713693557. [Crossref]

  • Kingsley, G. & Malecki, E. J. (2004). Networking for Competitiveness. Small Business Economics 23(1), 71-84. Doi: 10.1023/B:SBEJ.0000026022.08180.b7. [Crossref]

  • Krugman, P. (1994). "The Rise and Fall of Development Economics," in Rodwin, L. & Schön, D. A. (eds.), Rethinking the Development Experience (pp. 39-58). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

  • Lechner, C. & Dowling, M. (2003). Firm networks: external relationships as sources for the-growth and competitiveness of entrepreneurial firms. Entrepreneurship and regional development 15(1), 1-26. Doi: 10.1080/08985620210159220. [Crossref]

  • Lechner, L., Dowling, M. & Welpe, I. (2006). Firm networks and firm development: The role of the relational mix. Journal of Business Venturing 21(4), 514-540. Doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2005.02.004. [Crossref]

  • Maillat, D. (1998). Interactions between Urban Systems and Localised Productive Systems: An Approach to Endogenous Regional Development in Terms of Innovative Milieu. European Planning Studies 6(2), 117-129. Doi: 10.1080/09654319808720450. [Crossref]

  • Marshall, A. (1920). Principles of Economics. London: Wiley.

  • Morgan, K. (1997). The Learning Region: Institutions, Innovation and Regional Renewal. Regional Studies 31(5), 491-503. Doi: 10.1080/00343409750132289. [Crossref]

  • Mulgan, G. (1998). Connexity: Responsibility, Freedom, Business and Power in the New Century. London: Vintage.

  • Myrdal, G. (1957). Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions. London: Duckworth.

  • Nijkamp, P. (2003). Entrepreneurship in a modern Network Economy. Regional Studies 37(4), 395-405. Doi: 10.1080/0034340032000074424. [Crossref]

  • North, D. & Smallbone, D. (2000a). The Innovativeness and Growth of Rural SMEs during the 1990s, Regional Studies, 34(2), 145-157. Doi: 10.1080/00343400050006069. [Crossref]

  • North, D. & Smallbone, D. (2000b). Innovative Activity in SMEs and Rural Economic Development: Some Evidence from England. European Planning Studies 8(1), 87-105. Doi: 10.1080/096543100110947. [Crossref]

  • OECD (1997). Globalisation and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Paris: OECD.

  • OECD (2006). The New Rural Paradigm: Policies and Governance. Paris: OECD.

  • Oerlemans, L. A. G. & Meeus, M. T. H. (2005). Do organizational and spatial proximity impact on firm performance? Regional Studies 39(1), 89-104. Doi: 10.1080/0034340052000320896. [Crossref]

  • Piore, M. & Sabel, C. (1984). The second industrial divide: Possibilities for prosperity. New York: Basic Books.

  • Porter, M. E. (1995). The determinants and dynamics of national advantage. In J. Drew (ed.), Readings in international enterprise (p. 39). London/ and New York: Routledge.

  • Porter, M. E. (1990). The competitive advantage of nations. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan.

  • Reimer, B. & Bollman, R. D. (2005). The New Rural Economy: Key Observations for Research and Policy in the Canadian Context, Paper presented at the 2nd Future of Australia's Country Towns Conference, Bendigo, Australia.

  • Schumpeter, J. A. (1934). The Theory of Economic Development. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

  • Storper, M. (1995). The resurgence of regional economies, ten years later: the region as a nexus of untraded interdependencies, European Urban and Regional Studies 2(3), 191-221. Doi: 10.1177/096977649500200301. [Crossref]

  • Tallman, S., Jenkins, M., Henry, N. & Pinch, S. (2004). Knowledge, clusters and competitive advantage. Academy of Management Review 29(2), 258-271.

  • Torre, A. & Gilly, J. P. (2000). On the analytical dimension of proximity dynamics, Regional Studies 34(2), 169-180. Doi: 10.1080/00343400050006087. [Crossref]

  • Torre, A. & Rallet, A. (2005). Proximity and localization, Regional Studies 39(1), 47-59. Doi: 10.1080/0034340052000320842. [Crossref]

  • Tödtling, F. & Kaufmann, A. (1999). Innovation systems in regions of Europe - a comparative perspective, European Planning Studies 7(6), 699-717. Doi: 10.1080/09654319908720549. [Crossref]

  • Virkkala, S. (2007). Innovation and Networking in Peripheral Areas - a Case Study of Emergence and Change in Rural Manufacturing. European Planning Studies 15(4), 511-529. Doi: 10.1080/09654310601133948. [Crossref]

  • Wasserman, S. & Faust, K. (1994). Social Network Analysis - Methods and Applications, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Weber, A. (1929). Theory of the Location of Industries, [translated by Carl J. Friedrich from Weber's 1909 book], Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

  • Wight, J. B. (1983). From Centre/Periphery to Territory/Function: John Friedmann in Transition, in Hansen, J. C., Naustdalslid, J. & Sewel, J. (eds.), Centre-Periphery Theory: Theory and Practice, Sogndal.

  • Young, N. (2010). Business Networks, Collaboration and Embeddedness in Local and Extra-local Spaces: The Case of Port Hardy, Canada. Sociologia Ruralis 50(4), 392-408. Doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2010.00521.x. [Crossref]

About the article

Published Online: 2012-01-24

Published in Print: 2011-01-01

Citation Information: European Countryside, ISSN (Online) 1803-8417, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10091-012-0002-y. Export Citation

This content is open access.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in