Investigating the success of SMEs in rural locations

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This Research & Innovation Doctoral Project brief summarises our priority areas of research interest under the heading of:  An investigation into what prevailing factors contribute to the success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a rural location.

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with and in response to this brief.

Project brief details

This project intends to explore key issues enabling or affecting success in rural small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). Examination of the current literature around such SME success reveals several factors that are prevalent, such as firm growth, longevity of operation, size of the business and also their capacity for innovation.

Given the scope of the study and its examination of SMEs within a rural location, there are a variety of methodologies that can be applied within this research brief. We welcome applications from a variety of methodological approaches and we are open to proposals of an innovative or creative nature. Support can be provided from academics with both practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject matter and as such, we can accommodate applicants from multidisciplinary backgrounds.

With that in mind, possible research areas may include (but are not confined to):

  • Exploration of the different indicators of SME success and identification of any prevalent contributing factors to that success
  • Examination of which factors more accurately represent success in rural SMEs
  • Examining whether there exists any prevalent factors that lead to business failure
  • The implications of the critical success factors or failures on the development of related SME policy and practice

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the following Research & Innovation programme and department:

ProgrammeDigital Entrepreneurship and Financial Innovation​​​
DepartmentCornwall Business School

As successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and one or more of our Research & Innovation programmes, we recommend that you review details of the programme aligned to this brief before you complete the application process.

Project brief lead

Professor Seamus O'Brien

Seamus' research focuses strongly in the area of entrepreneurship and small business management and he has published widely in this area. Through collaborative research relationships, he is currently investigating factors contributing to adaptation and resilience among micro, small and medium enterprises. He has been an invited speaker, columnist, advisor and champion of entrepreneurship for small businesses.

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Dr Francisco Romera

From 2022, Francisco Romera has been part of Cornwall Business School at Falmouth University, being a Course Leader for Business & Marketing BSc(Hons).

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How to apply

Apply for a Research MPhil or PhD

We welcome all research degree applications aligned with this Doctoral Project brief. ​To apply in response to this brief or learn about the application process click the button below.

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Project brief & project proposal enquiries

To discuss this project brief, ideas or project proposal responding to this brief, please contact: Dr Seamus O'Brien.


Application enquiries

For all other application related enquires please contact the Research & Development team.


T01326 255831

Additional resources

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