SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

December 03, 2015 10:30 ET

Study explores challenges facing Alberta's small and medium sized companies

Visiting professor at the Haskayne School of Business seeks to survey over 1,000 companies in the province

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - December 03, 2015) - An ambitious research project from the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation visiting scholar Simon Raby, will seek to better understand the unique challenges facing Alberta's small and medium-sized businesses.

The study, Promoting Sustainable Performance (PSP), aims to reveal crucial insights into the sustainable economic growth and performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"Researchers and practitioners have only begun understanding the workings of small and medium sized entrepreneurs and the practices and processes involved in their economic sustainability," says Raby, who comes to Haskayne from the University of Kent, made possible by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust in the United Kingdom.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up nearly 92 per cent of total employment in Alberta, according to Industry Canada, yet not much is known about how they operate. There has been a tendency for research to focus on startups and large and well-established firms. It has also been harder for researchers to gain access to SMEs for research purposes due to their common lack of time and money to participate in research projects.

"The leaders of these businesses are typically very busy, balancing operational and strategic demands. Taking part in research, when set against competitive pressures, is seen as down the 'to-do' list. However, this knowledge is essential if we are to advance our collective understanding of how best to support the growth and development of these organizations," says Raby.

The PSP study, which includes multiple choice and closed ended survey questions, is geared towards private and not-for-profit industries with fewer than 500 people and looks at a broad range of issues tied to entrepreneurial growth and performance, including competitive strategy and leadership; markets, competition and supply chain; finance; innovation technology, human resources; communication and development practices and advisory services and networks.

In return for their participation, companies will receive a results summary, which can be used to benchmark with their organizations, and will also be invited to explore new strategies that other SMEs are employing to achieve growth.

Home to the highest density of entrepreneurs across Canada, Alberta has a natural entrepreneurial spirit. It's this spirit amidst the current economic downturn that Raby feels could be a catalyst to diversify and innovate, with entrepreneurialism at the heart of the agenda.

Kimberley Neutens, director of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, welcomes Raby to the university and encourages Alberta's companies to participate.

"Simon's contribution to our research and outreach activities will no doubt be significant -- we are so very excited to have him on board and working with our faculty, alumni and entrepreneurs in our community to identify factors that impact growth and performance," said Neutens.

"His research will support entrepreneurial growth in Calgary and the province for years to come."

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

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