Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Data Sources in Australia

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Small- and medium-sized enterprises constitute a significant sector in any economy. Academic research studies, which analyze various dimensions of small- and medium-sized sector in Australia, reiterate the importance of availability and reliability of data sources regarding these firms. Any research study has to be supported with reliable data sources that provide comprehensive, consistent and timely information, enhancing the significance of research results. This article provides information on eleven data sources for conducting a research on small- and medium-sized enterprises in Australia. The main aim of this article is to support the continuance of research in this crucial business sector. The data presented in this article provides vital information for researchers interested in conducting studies on different aspects of small- and medium-sized enterprise sector.

JEL: M15, C80

KEYWORDS: small business, SMEs, data sources, research in Australia.

INTRODUCTION

Since the early 1970s, activity in small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) research in Australia has increased greatly (Johnson & Kells, 1997). Most Research studies concentrate on management issues (Wiesner, McDonald, & Banham, 2007), tax regulations (Chittenden, Kauser, & Poutziouris, 2003), industry (Johnsen & McMahon, 2005), performance (McMahon, 2001), export/import (Styles & Ambler, 2000), innovation and entrepreneurship (Parker, 2006), information technology (MacGregor & Vrazalic, 2008), failure of SMEs (Berryman, 1983), liquidity (Drever & Hutchinson, 2007) and financing arrangements (Watson, 2006b). However, there are still many opportunities for advancing research on Australian SMEs. For instance, there is generally a shortage of broad, in depth and comprehensive analysis about the SME banking market in Australia (KPMG, 2003). According to Drever (2006), it is essential to verify the awareness of the range of financing sources available to SMEs and identify gaps in the current credit management arrangements for Australian SMEs. McMahon (2001) also reported it was vital to include a wider range of industries when studying SMEs financial behavior. Watson's (2006a) work concerning SMEs external funding and growth, stated that there were limited studies on growing entrepreneurial SMEs in Australia.

Any research study must be supported with data sources that provide comprehensive consistent and timely information which enhances the significance of research results. This article provides essential information on SME data sources in Australia. In addition, it makes a contribution to existing academic literature and provides current information on SME data sources in Australia. The article is organized as follows. First, a literature review is presented. This is followed by a discussion of the methodology and results. The paper closes with some conclusions, a summary of the findings, and directions for a future research.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Overall, small- and medium-sized enterprises constitute a significant sector in any economy. It is vital to understand what differentiates SMEs from other enterprises. There are various characteristics incorporated in SME definitions. These include turnover, assets, employment numbers, and management characteristics (Lee & McGuiggan, 2008). In some industry sectors, such as, agriculture or crafts, SMEs play a dominant role, whereas in others, such as financial institutions or communications, their importance is smaller (Korcsmaros, Takacs, & Dowers, 2003). A small- and medium-sized enterprise definition has been considered by several researchers (Berryman, 1983; Drever, 2006; Wiesner, et al., 2007). The lack of a formal definition of a SME has led to different approaches followed by governments and other organizations in various economies (MacGregor & Vrazalic, 2008).

In Australia, there is no common definition adopted for small-sized enterprise (KPMG, 2003), and for medium-sized enterprise (Richard McMahon, 2001). …

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