Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Bridging the Void: Business Advisors and SME's after the Foot and Mouth Crisis

Maggie Ferguson, Dr Graham Baldwin, Peter Cave.

Previous studies (Storey, 1994, CBI, 1995) have recognize the importance and influence of external advisers to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Indeed the problems which surround the provision and acceptance of advice was perhaps best illustrated by Bennett and Robson (1999), who stated that SMEs ‘often have a greater need than larger firms to buy in external assistance, but a greater reluctance to do so’ Lowe and Talbot (2000) further contended that rural enterprises have additional and different support needs in comparison to their urban counterparts. This situation was further accentuated following the recent foot and mouth crisis. Therefore this paper will investigate the perceived usefulness of various external advisors to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) within a rural economy (Cumbria) following the foot and mouth crisis.

The research presents and evaluates the results of 356 questionnaires completed by SME’s from a variety of industries within the county of Cumbria. The key aims of the questionnaire were to ascertain the business support currently utilised by SME’s, their awareness of other advisory agencies and their reasons for non usage of certain providers. Additionally the survey questioned the perceived importance and influence of existing potential advisors within the county.

The findings showed that of those that did use outside advisors, accountants and banks were identified as being the preferred agencies. The most common reason stated for not using other available external advisors was a general satisfaction with the existing forms of operation of their business or concerns with regards to a potential increase in administrative burdens.


Maggie Ferguson  (United Kingdom)
Senior lecturer
Lancashire Business school
University of Central Lancashire

Maggie Ferguson joined the Department or Tourism and Leisure Management at The University of Central Lancashire in September 2000 as a Senior Lecturer in Leisure and Tourism. She has been teaching at degree level for many years and has worked in a number of different universities.

She is a published author who has contributed at many national and international conferences. Current research developments and publications concentrate upon graduate skills and employment, online learning in higher education, and the effects of the foot and mouth crises upon local businesses.

Dr Graham Baldwin  (United Kingdom)

University of Central Lancashire

Peter Cave  (United Kingdom)

University of Central Lancashire

  • business advisors
  • perceptions
  • foot and mouth

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)