Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Evaluation of Entrepreneurs with a Focus on Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation (Opei). Results of a Questionnaire Survey

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Evaluation of Entrepreneurs with a Focus on Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovation (Opei). Results of a Questionnaire Survey

Article excerpt

Introduction

Supporting of entrepreneurship is part of stimulation of economic growth and is one of the key element of economic change. Policy of supporting entrepreneurship has become significant for regional development. It is entrepreneurship that has positive influence on economic growth (Audretsch, 2001; Carree et al., 2007; van Praag, Versloot, 2007; Naude, 2010; Romero, 2012; Sternberg, 2012; Marcotte, 2012), e.g. Ny ström (2008) confirms a positive relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth and productivity in the long term (approximately 10 years). Seen from this perspective, policy of supporting entrepreneurship is very important. The greatest attention is focused especially on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they are considered to be the greatest source of innovations, economic growth, employment and social integration of the society. Greater flexibility in reacting to changes in the market, more ability to exploit market niches (Hodorogel, 2009) and faster and better implementation of innovations are often listed as advantages of SMEs. Wit and Kok (2014) prove that contribution of SMEs to creation of employment opportunities is higher than in the case of larger companies. In connection to innovations in small enterprises, Burns (2001) claims that these enterprises introduce products and services, which are very different from those of the big companies. Even though conducting research and development is less probable in SMEs than in big companies, when they do conduct them, it is more effective and they launch new products in the market much faster than big companies. Audretsch (2001) sees SMEs as leaders in the process of innovations, which gives them a great competitive advantage. Also Copus, Skuras, and Tsegenidi (2008) see SMEs as a contributor to the competitiveness of the local economy and innovation. Countries such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia have already accepted the fact that SMEs are an essential part of economic reforms (Maletic et al., 2014).

In the Czech Republic, 70% of those employed in the corporate sector work in small or medium-sized enterprises. These enterprises contribute to the employment in economy more than by a half and generate approximately a third of the nominal GDP (Czech statistical office, 2013). The figures concerning the share in employment and GDP are very similar in Poland (Peszko, 2014). Among the disadvantages of SMEs, lack of capital and limited opportunities to gain advantages from the scope of production are mentioned. Their being is very often dependent on banks' lending, so government bodies tried to find ways to simplification of access to entrepreneurial finance (Fossen, 2011). The key element for survival, development, and growth of SMEs, but not only them, is the access to finance. Czech enterprises can use various types of support, financial or non-financial. In the European Union, cohesion policy and structural funds have a key position. When focusing on support from structural funds and the Cohesion Fund, these operational programmes can be named in the period of 2007 - 2013 in the Czech Republic: OP Human Resources and Employment, OP Education for Competitiveness, and OP Enterprise and Innovations (hereinafter "OPEI").

1.Research goals and hypotheses

OPEI, which is the third biggest operational programme in the Czech Republic (about 12% of all the financial resources of the Convergence is determined for it), is focused on supporting entrepreneurs, especially in manufacturing, research and strategic services. The programme is designed especially for SMEs, however, in some programmes, big companies and other subjects may also apply for support. One of the conditions for receiving a subsidy is realization of the project in the Czech Republic, with the exception of the capital city of Prague. Specific conditions are defined in the calls to the individual programmes of support. The article focuses on analysis of subjects with an issued Decision to Provide a subsidy (applicants with loan or guarantee contracts will not be included) and the way they used the aid offered to them. …

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