The Creation and Growth of Small Business Service Firms in Post-Industrial Britain

John R. Bryson*, David Keeble, Peter Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Since 1980, the United Kingdom has experienced a dramatic growth in firms and employment in information-intensive business services, such as management consultancy and market research. This article reports the results of the first substantial nation-wide investigation into the nature and causes of small professional business service firm growth in Britain, undertaken in 1991. It reveals marked differences in the characteristics, markets and competitive requirements of such firms, compared with small manufacturing firms. The demand for their services comes predominantly from large companies, and is more focussed on financial and other services and government. But small firms are also making increasing use of business services. Specialised expertise, reputation and educational and professional qualifications are essential prerequisites for the establishment of new business service firms. Their success is also being enhanced by increasing use of informal networking, collaborative partnerships, and subcontracting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-360
Number of pages16
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to acknowledge the financial contributions to the work of the Cambridge University Small Business Research Centre from the Economic and Social Research Council, Arthur Andersen & Co Foundation, Barclays Bank, Commission of the European Communities (DG XXIII), Department of Employment, and Rural Development Commission. Any views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsoring organisations.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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