The contribution of rural businesses to community resilience
This paper explores the role of private sector enterprises in building the resilience of rural Scotland. In addition, the paper seeks to identify changes in rural enterprise activities and their impact on rural life. The paper is based on quantitative secondary data analysis and two qualitative case studies. These demonstrate how rural enterprises contribute to economic and social development in rural communities and the wider resilience of rural locations. Analysis of the secondary data highlights an increasing contribution by private sector enterprises to overall employment in rural Scotland. The data verify the importance of SMEs and, in particular, micro businesses in rural job creation. They also show the role of rural businesses in increasing the diversification of the local economy and therefore in building wider rural community resilience. The results identify changing employment patterns in rural areas (such as an increasing level of self-employment, parttime and home working and multiple job holding) which might be associated with the capacity to adapt to dynamic changes in the socio-economic environment. Finally, qualitative findings help to further understand how private sector enterprises contribute to the social and environmental resilience of rural Scotland by identifying the role they play in enhancing the quality of life of those living in rural locations. Consequently, the paper makes a substantial and original contribution to existing knowledge and debate on resilience. It uses current data on the characteristics of rural private sector enterprises to identify their economic, social and environmental importance in building the resilience of rural places and their communities.
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