Rural Small and Medium Enterprises Development in Molise (Italy)

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are a key economic sector in Molise, a region in central Italy, characterized by a high level of rurality. This paper uses descriptive survey research to discuss the findings of a study of the innovation process in a sample of SMEs located in rural areas of Molise. It explores the aims of the innovation and any barriers encountered. Data were collected from 30 respondents with the aid of an on-line questionnaire. The sample was drawn from a database made available by the Chambers of Commerce in Molise. The database includes 165 firms that, in recent years, have introduced innovative technologies. The findings of the study revealed that there is a high level of awareness of the importance of technology among the managing bodies of SMEs. Most rural firms prefer to use new production technologies and new processes, rather than invest in research and development activities. Furthermore, there is a low propensity to set up partnerships with other enterprises along the supply chain and to participate in collaborative networks designed to stimulate innovation. Most owners and/or managers interviewed lamented the lack of financial resources necessary to make technological innovations. They also highlighted the considerable difficulty in accessing public and private funding. The paper concludes with some brief prospects by recommending a few implications for policy. The results of this study are important for both researchers as well as those involved in small business (including government, agencies and owner/managers).

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