Investigating the success of SMEs in rural locations

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This Research & Knowledge Exchange 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 both explore and uncover key issues and elements enabling and affecting success in rural SMEs. Examination of the current literature around SME success revealed several factors that were prevalent such as firm growth, longevity, size, and innovation.  

Given the scope of the study and its examination of SMEs within a rural location, it is recommended that a quantitative methodological approach would be best suited.  

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 
  • Examination of which factors more accurately represents success in rural SMEs.  
  • Examining whether there exist any prevalent factors that lead to business failure.  

Strategic alignment

Projects deriving from this brief are expected to sit within the Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy and the following department.

Department Cornwall Business School

All successful research degree project proposals must emphasise a clear alignment between the project idea and our Research & Knowledge Exchange strategy. 

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.

Read more
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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: Professor 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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