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The financial crisis and the gathering of political intelligence : a cross-country comparison of SMEs in France, Sweden and the UK

Barron, A. and Hultén, Peter and Hudson, Sarah (2012) The financial crisis and the gathering of political intelligence : a cross-country comparison of SMEs in France, Sweden and the UK. International Small Business Journal, 30 (4). pp. 345-366. ISSN 0266-2426

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This article reports the findings of a study that compared cross-national differences in how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) monitored political responses to the economic and financial crisis of 2007-2009. Original, empirical data collected through an online survey of 206 small business managers in France, Sweden and the UK were analysed to explore the extent that they monitored policy responses to the crisis, their motivations for doing so, and the sources of information they used for political intelligence gathering purposes. The findings show that the monitoring of political initiatives by SMEs in response to the recession varied in accordance with the extent to which their countries are affected by the recession. Also, small business managers on the whole considered it more important, despite the international nature of the crisis, to monitor political responses in national rather than supranational political settings. Contrary to our expectations, we found that SMEs across all three countries drew on similarly wide sources of information when monitoring policy responses to the crisis. Also surprising was the finding that SME managers in the UK relied heavily on official government sources when gathering intelligence on attempts to alleviate the recession's effects.