Placing entrepreneurship and firming small town economies: manufacturing firms, adaptive embeddedness, survival and linked enterprise structures

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  • Birmingham City University


SMEs make a major contribution to the economy of cities and places. The relationship between firms and place is increasingly explained through the application of city-based externality models. Such explanations have limited validity in a number of contexts. One of these is in the economies of small and medium-sized towns and communities (SMST). Whilst convention has sought to apply core-periphery explanations to the functioning of firms within SMSTs, the economies of SMSTs and entrepreneurial processes of SME embedding, adaptation and survival in such places are more complex. This paper explores these entrepreneurial processes in the context of manufacturing firms in five SMSTs in the West Midlands, UK. The paper uses interview data to understand the relationships between SMEs and place through the development of successive and evolving linked enterprise structures. Through these linked enterprise structures, SMEs engage in a process of adaptive embeddedness, resulting in new resource configurations through fluid iterations of structural, emotional, and circumstantial embeddedness. This paper is the first to identify and explore these different forms of embeddedness.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-825
Number of pages20
JournalEntrepreneurship & Regional Development
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019
EventAssociation of American Geographers - US, New Orleans , United States
Duration: 10 Apr 201813 Apr 2018


  • Small Towns, Southern Staffordshire, adaptation strategies, entrepreneurship and embeddedness, linked enterprise structures, manufacturing firms, path dependency, sunk costs